EXTERIOR VIEW OF THE CALKINS-MACQUEEN Home in Perry, highlighting the new paint colors, which are historically accurate to the house. The antique shutters will soon be repainted burgundy and reinstalled.

   The local garden club and girl scouts will be helping replant garden beds and the yard will eventually be completely reseeded.

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)

     The over 140-year old Victorian Calkins-MacQueen Home and Museum in Perry, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has seen months of careful renovation and preservation due to efforts made by the Perry Historical Society, the city of Perry and numerous community members. The Perry Historical Society, a nonprofit led by Billy Roback, has been heading up organizing the renovation process. A considerable amount of work has been accomplished in recent months.

   The Calkins-MacQueen Home was built in 1878 and is one of the first stick-built homes in the region. It served as the family home of Charles Calkins – and later his daughter, Bessie, and her husband, Alexander MacQueen purchased the home for themselves. The home remained in the family until Bessie died in 1941 when it was then willed to the city of Perry – eighty years ago. In 1974, the Perry Historical Society decided to turn the home into a museum.

    In 2019, the Perry Historical Society requested financial assistance for repairs from the city. The Perry City Council then voted to contribute $15,900 to exterior repairs. However, then Mayor James Huguelet vetoed repairs shortly thereafter, lending to a discussion on possibly demolishing the historic building. That possibility was quickly detoured when the city allocated $6,000 for roof repairs – and from that point on, the Perry Historical Society and the Perry community have come out in strong support of preserving the building, with assistance from the city and other groups and businesses.

   Early restoration began in May 2020 through both community support and private donations. First on the lengthy to-do list was upgrading all electrical wiring, which even included Consumers Energy installing a new pole with wiring being laid underground to avoid exterior hanging wire from detracting from the historic look. Keetch Electric of Perry handled replacing all interior wiring, with every consideration offered to protect walls and floors. Vintage push-button light switches were included in the design, along with modern smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and emergency egress lighting, since the building is used publically.

   Roback offered a thorough tour of the Calkins-MacQueen Home on Tuesday, March 9. He outlined plans for the first floor that include repairing the plaster ceilings, removing the wallpaper and painting walls and renovating floors. The wallpaper currently in place on the first floor, likely dates to the mid-1970s and is in poor condition. Once the paper is removed and the walls painted, the historical society can evaluate whether to repaper. All first-floor light fixtures have now been rebuilt by Win’s Electrical in Owosso.

   Assessing the exterior of the building, Roback was pleased to highlight the new paint – a pleasant, taupe color with white trim. After the city had appropriated funding for the roofs, the city also repainted. The city and the historical society then worked cooperatively toward installing original-looking gutters and downspouts.

   The choice of paint colors was offered to Nancy Parrish to honor her contributions to the historical society dating back to 1974. Parrish was offered a selection of antique colors for her decision. She opted for the taupe and white. The antique shutters are going to be a deep burgundy. The building had been yellow since 2006.

   The Calkins-MacQueen Home has also been completely replumbed, thanks to the historical society, including all new plumbing, new waterlines, sewer drains, a new bathroom with working toilet, hot water and working sinks.

   Foundation work was briefly started in January to secure one corner of the foundation. Soon, the entire foundation, which is actually stone, will be dug out, re-tuckpointed and sealed. Currently, the stone is mostly hidden underneath a false skin on the foundation.

   Roback shared there are many more projects yet to tackle, but was pleased that many contractors have shared the structure is incredibly sound for its age.

   “Everything seen in this home has been donated by the people that live in the community,” he shared, highlighting he is looking forward to a number of upcoming outside events where the community will be welcome to enjoy the location. Plans are in the works for a small farmers market one weekend every month. An artist market with artists from throughout the county might also happen. A number of people have expressed interest in renting the building for special occasions or photo opportunities, too.

   The Calkins-MacQueen Home is located at 127 E. First Street in Perry. If interested in volunteering, donating or becoming involved, please call (575) 499-6213.

Bright Future for Historic Calkins-MacQueen Home was last modified: March 17th, 2021 by Karen Elford