IONIA, Mich. — One of the structures that has stood the test of time in West Michigan is the John C. Blanchard House in Ionia. It’s fine Italian styling, popular during the Civil War era, has earned the name La Palistina (Delightful Home) with its pink sandstone structure.
Built in 1880, the house belonged to one of the wealthiest, most prominent lawyers of the time. John C. Blanchard was a private lawyer, but would later become the Ionia County Prosecuting Attorney. Some say he never lost a case! The home cost $12,500 to build, but requires about $16,000 a year to keep the doors open and the lights on. Donations are cheerfully accepted!
The house Blanchard had built utilized pink sandstone from a local quarry he owned, and was constructed on a full acre. Most of the rooms are larger than life with doorways eight to 10 feet tall, along with ornate custom woodwork. There’s clearly a noticeable separation of class throughout the house. It was the difference between the haves and have-nots (owners vs. servants).
This meticulously preserved home is listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and the Michigan State Register of Historic Sites. It really does feel like a walk back in time as you see things like an antique organ, piano, original dishware, and many other items from the 1800s.
Also part of the house in the basement is a museum documenting the way things use to be in Ionia around the early turn of the century. In its heyday Ionia had a brewery that made Friars Ale, a Coke bottling plant, three cigar factories, a button factory, and Ypsilanti Reed Furniture later turned defense plant for the war.
This fabulous facility is also available to rent for special occasions like weddings, dinners, and other small venture parties. It’s open for tours each Sunday from 1:00 to 4:00 PM during June, July, and August. You can call 616 527-3369 or 616 527-4945 to arrange a special tour or get more information about rental.
For more information on the John C. Blanchard House click here for their website.