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403 SOUTH JEFFERSON
DOW HOUSE
(Connected to First Congregational Church - Site 11)
Site 12
(Constructed as a residence for Mary Dow)
1936
Architect: Alden B. Dow, Midland, Michigan
Architect for 1957 connecting wing: Frantz and Spence

 

“ ‘It’s perfectly beautiful,’ was the general comment of the Jefferson Avenue M.E. Home and Foreign Missionary Society members when they gathered Friday afternoon to inspect the new modernistic home of Miss Mary E. Dow.”

“‘Ultra Modern’ House’s Doors Open to Public” The Saginaw News

 

403 South Jefferson - Dow House - View from West 2008Designed by architect Alden B. Dow for his aunt, Mary Dow, this home reflects the client’s desire for “a small house with big rooms.” Taking advantage of a sloping site, the architect organized the residence on three levels. Privacy is maximized by careful placement of windows, use of glass block and positioning planter boxes to screen views. The garage is placed prominently on the front of the house. Accessed by doors from the master bedroom and a small stairway near the front entrance, the garage roof served as outdoor living area - a contemporary equivalent to her neighbors’ front porches.

 

Unit Blocks, a cinder block designed and patented by Alden B. Dow, are combined with panels of stucco, standing seam metal, steel casement windows, glass block, and cypress to create a compact, yet rich composition. In constructing the interior and exterior walls, fourteen individual block designs are employed. Dark gray in color, they are painted white as specified by Dow.

 

A 1957 addition connects the Mary Dow home to First Congregational Church. While the connecting wing covers the house’s original entrance, the interior and much of the exterior are intact. Recently the church has restored missing elements and has planned additional restoration work.

 

 

Photographs

 

c. 1938 view from South - Photograph courtesy of the Alden B. Dow Archives

 

c. 1938 view of living room

 

 

 

Map

 

Rollover map of Historic South Jefferson Walking Tour 100 South Jefferson Avenue 403 South Jefferson - Dow House (This is connected to the First Congregational Church) Jeffers Park 403 South Jefferson - First Congregational Church 600 Federal Avenue 500 Federal Avenue - Castle Museum 505 Janes Avenue - Hoyt Library 303 Jefferson Avenue 310 South Jefferson Avenue 321 South Jefferson Avenue 523 Hayden 411 Hayden 505 Millard 503 South Jeffferson 508 South Jefferson 523 South Jefferson 505 Thompson 518 Thompson 604 South Jefferson 614 South Jefferson 615 South Jefferson St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral South Jefferson and Hoyt - Location of the fire of 1893

Sources

“New Buildings:  Michigan Residence Has Cinder-Block Exterior and Interior Finish."  Architectural Record  September 1939. 46–48,58.

“250 Attend Missionary Benefit Exhibition.”  The Saginaw News  Clipping from Mary Dow House papers Alden B. Dow Archives.

Construction Documents. Mary Dow House papers.  Alden B. Dow Archives.