Reader Joe asks, What is the history of Riverview’s “White Castle” in the park on Valade Street between Parkway and Vreeland? And, can any more homes be built there since two more have been added toward the east in the past two years?
Joe, I’ll answer the first question first. The history of the white Spanish-style castle you refer to was originally a light pink color. Yes, pink! We used to refer to it as “The Pink Castle.”
The house was built sometime in the 1920s by a fellow named Curtis H. Longsdorf. The records show he was born to Howard W. and Fidelia M Longsdorf on Nov. 4, 1894 in Cuyahoga, Ohio, near Cleveland.
I do not know when they migrated to Michigan, but records show that he had a real estate office and business located at 3033 Biddle Ave, in Wyandotte in 1928.
Marriage records show that Curtis H. Longsdorf and Florene Quincy were married in Riverview in 1929 by a Justice of the Peace named Frank Matthews, who was also a former member of the Village of Riverview council and Village President. Interestingly, Curtis’ best man was Andrew Tear, who was an officer on the Riverview police force at the time.
When the house was built, it was the only one in the area other than one on the corner of Brinson and Parkway. A large cement fish pond was installed by Curtis. The munti-sized garage was put in much later.
The Huntington Drain was there, running through the property west to east from Valade Street, before it was tubed and covered over because of a hepatitis scare in the 1960s.
Another note about Curtis Longsdorf, he was a wealthy man and he purchased all the property south of Pennsylvania to Colvin and east of Electric and west of Clark Street.
He had sewers, sidewalks and brick piers at the entrances off Pennsylvania installed with the intent to build a subdivision of houses. The idea failed to materialize because of the Great Depression.
As for your second question, it is my understanding that this property is designated as a flood plain. The rules on a description of a floodplain many have changed these past years and, the fact is, that area to the east of these newly built houses is designated as park property belonging to the city.
One reader asked me to elaborate on the Ferndale Cemetery.
Sometime between 1851 and 1876 David Baxter purchased 60 acres of land from R.F. and P.R. Johnson, south of Pennsylvania and north of Mud Street (Sibley Rd.). He later purchased 80 more acres from Johnson and Son.
In 1914 a syndicate called The Ferndale Cemetery Association was formed for the purpose of investing in the property for the specific use as a cemetery.
The Ferndale Cemetery Association purchased 140 acres of land north of Mud Street from D.B. Baxter and ads started appearing in the paper in September of 1915, looking for investors and buyers for cemetery lots. Marketing strategy included buy one, get one free.
According to the family, F.W. Liddle laid out the lots for the cemetery association. Also in 1915, an ornate entrance way made of stone piers with two lamps and a 14-foot high and 18-foot wide wrought iron gates and fencing. The entire span was 40 feet in length.
The very first person to be interred was Mrs. Jane Whitstone Johnson. She died in April of 1915.