ALERT: Aquinas College is experiencing phone system difficulties at this time. Incoming calls cannot be received and outgoing calls cannot be made. Inter campus phone functions are still operational. We are working to resolve this issue as soon as possible.
   Heritage & Traditions  
   

The History of Holmdene Manor

Holmdene Manor
1905
Edward Lowe and his wife Susan (Blodgett) Lowe purchased the 69-acre McCoy dairy farm. Edward was the son of English immigrants, James Lowe and Eliza Butterworth. Edward joined the logging firm of Delos Blodgett in 1892. Susan was the daughter of Delos Blodgett.
 
1906
Construction of the 22-room Holmdene manor began.
 
1908
The Lowe family takes up residence in the Tudor-style building.
 
1911
Theodore Roosevelt visited Grand Rapids for a Lincoln Day address and stayed with the Lowes, occupying a guest room on the second floor.
 
1922
The formal garden is designed and installed by noted New York garden designer Ellen Biddle Shipman.
 
1926
Susan Lowe’s brother John Wood Blodgett built his manor house, Brookby, on the corner of Plymouth and Robinson Roads.
 
1939
Holmdene Gardens
Following the death of Edward Lowe, the property was sold to the University of Grand Rapids, which occupied the buildings for only a few years before closing the school.
 
Video: Holmdene 100th Anniversary
1945
The Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids, with the help of Michael Leonard and John E. Frey of Union Bank of Michigan, purchased the Lowe Estate and moved Aquinas College from its downtown site. Holmdene served as the main administration and classroom building for the College.
 
1955
After the new Administration Building was completed, Holmdene became the residence for Dominican Sisters who taught and worked at the College.
 
1980
Holmdene was granted Historic Landmark status by the Grand Rapids Historic Preservation Commission.
 
1982

During a year of renovations, rooms in Holmdene were converted to offices for administrators and faculty.

2004
The Holmdene Restoration Committee was formed through a gift from and under the leadership of Louis and Arlene Corsiglia.
 
2007
Holmdene Historical Society was established.
 
2008
Holmdene 100th Anniversary is celebrated.
 
About the Holmdene Historical Society
The Holmdene Historical Society was established at Aquinas College to protect, restore, conserve and maintain the historic manor house and other buildings constructed in 1908 by the Edward Lowe family. The Historical Society works with the Aquinas College Historical Commission and the College archivist to call attention to maintenance and preservation of the historic character of the original estate buildings.
 

The Work of the Society

The Holmdene Restoration Committee oversees the preservation and restoration of the historic structure. All exterior renovation must be done in compliance with the Grand Rapids Historical Preservation Commission. Thanks to several donors and the work of the College’s maintenance and grounds staff, the following renovations have been completed:

 
  • Removed the ivy from the building to prevent erosion of bricks and mortar.
  • Renovated the original front doors.
  • Replaced the terracotta tile in the vestibule.
  • Replaced storm windows on the south façade
  • Completed the painting and scraping of some exterior windows and fascia.
  • Restored the fountains in the Holmdene gardens
  • Began the renovation of plantings in the Holmdene gardens.
  • Repaired steps and the east side brick porch.
 
Much Work Remains to be Done
  • Replacing the current roof with cedar shake facsimile.
  • Restoring copper gutters and downspouts.
  • Rebuilding the southwest chimney.
  • Tuck-pointing the exterior brick.
  • Repairing the brick patio and replacing wall ornaments.
  • Weather-treating the soft limestone decorative trim and columns.
  • Preserving the marble lions at the entrance and the Italian marble urn on the patio.
  • Completing exterior painting and storm window replacement.
  • Updating interior electrical system
  • Restoring the gardens.
 
How You Can Help
Membership donations are tax deductible, and members will be invited to special presentations and events held at Holmdene.
>>Download the Pledge Card (pdf)
Membership Levels
Endowment Gifts Edward and Susan Blodgett Lowe Society
$10,000 + Architectural Society
$5,000-9,999 Preservation Society
$1,000-$4,999 Heritage Society
$50-$999 Restoration Society
 
For more information on the Holmdene Historical Society or to become a member, download, complete and mail in the pledge card or contact the Advancement Office (616) 632-2809.