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History: Calvin Fillmore

 

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Besides houses, Fillmore built at least two churches. In 1839 he put up a frame building at Fifth and Broad, now long gone, for Dexter's Baptist congregation. In 1841 the Methodists hired him to build a church on Central Street, complete with a partition to divide the sexes. That church was replaced in 1925 after being struck by lightning.

But Fillmore's most impressive legacy is Gordon Hall. Between 1841 and 1843 he collaborated with the village's founder, judge Samuel Dexter, on the twenty-two-room house, which had nine fireplaces and nine-foot-tall sliding pocket doors. "The most elaborate of mansions of this period in Michigan with the general character of the large estates in the south," a 1934 edition of the Historic American Buildings Survey called it. The house is now being restored by the Dexter Area Historical Society.

Two of Calvin's sisters--Julia, who marred Charles Harris, and Olive, who married Henry Johnson--followed him to Michigan. Sylvester Newkirk, who was apprenticed to Calvin and went on to work with him, married Olive's daughter Julia.

In 1845 Calvin and Maranda bought more than 100 acres in Scio Township.

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