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my old house

The Amedee Marentette House
342 Rosedale Boulevard, Sandwich

by Terry Marentette

Bits of the Pontchartrain Hotel were incorporated into this Sandwich home, photo circa 1922

When my mother worked for Western Union in Detroit over eighty years ago, my father Amedee Marentette, aka “Mid,” was the sole proprietor of the Acme Hardware store in Sandwich. Since he didn’t have anyone but himself to account for, once in a while he would take some time off to meet my mother for lunch in Detroit. At this point in time, they weren’t married yet, although they had been engaged for almost ten years.

With his impending marriage on his mind, (scheduled for 1923), my father saw a sign advertising the sale of all materials from the demolished Pontchartrain Hotel. Upon investigating, he was pleased to discover that the prices were very low. He wanted to build a dream house, or in his words, a “grand house” as a marriage gift, perhaps because my mother had been waiting so long.

After inquiring about getting the materials to his store in Sandwich, he felt that he just about had everything in place to put his plan into action.

Thus, our house at 19 Rosedale Boulevard (now 342) was born.

Dad purchased doors, window frames, tiles, electrical switches, fixtures, brick and part of a central vacuum system (in 1920?), which did not work then, and does not work now, according to the current owner. The master bedroom had a master panel with about 24 switches, which were two way – they could be operated from two locations. Therefore, any noise in the night meant that one could turn on lights and fixtures anywhere in the house!

The bedroom doors, and all the closet doors, had one-inch plate mirrors on the backs. All remain to this day, except for one. When I first met the current owner, she asked me why the built-in buffet and china cabinet had drawers marked with “Pontchartrain Hotel – Detroit, Michigan.”

For many years, there was a small, three foot solid brass drinking fountain in the foyer, which was the same as the children’s fountains in the old J.L. Hudson Department Store in downtown Detroit. I suppose it was there so that my mother could play bridge and not be interrupted if my brothers needed a drink. The light fixture from the porch (which we installed in a later home) appears to have been from an indoor fixture in the hotel.

Mrs. J. J. Grozelle, whose husband was the manager of the Home Bank (later the Imperial Bank) at Sandwich and Mill, in Sandwich, often mentioned to me in later years, that she would have liked to have seen the house fully furnished. Apparently, all the money went into the building of the home. I guess that with a 28-foot living room, if you sat in front of the fireplace, you would have had to scream to someone sitting in one of the few chairs across the room, in order for them to hear you!

All the tile in the kitchen and bathrooms were unglazed and a day lady once told my mother, “the man who put these tiles in here was trying to kill his wife.” Dirt would accumulate rapidly on the tiles and in the grout and they were very difficult to clean.

I have no record of what the house cost. We did have a bill that itemized walnut doors: 90 cents each, duty: 20 cents. The beveled glass front door was one of two that came from the entrance to the dining room of the Pontchartrain, and remains in the house.

At the time that this house was built from my father’s plans, I believe that John L. Forster’s house to the south of ours was already built. Mr. Forster was principal of Sandwich Collegiate, now Forster Collegiate. The house to the north was, for many years, the residence of Mayor Arthur J. Reaume.

The house originally had a large brick garage. My mother often regretted not renting it during Prohibition to a man who said he needed storage for “food products.” We knew what these products were strictly of the liquor variety, as he was obviously a bootlegger.

Sadly, we lost the house in the Great Depression and had to move into my grandmother’s house on Elm Avenue in Windsor. Though I never lived in the house on Rosedale, (I was born after we moved), it remains close to my heart.

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