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Unknown newspaper  

(presumed to be The Day Spring)

Unknown author  

(presumed to be Don F. Cochrane)

Nov. 3, 1936

Transcribed for the internet

By Emma Sefcik – 06/2001



  P.A. Thomas Home At Hartford 

Will Be Southwest Michigan Show Place

HARTFORD, Nov. 3, 1936

Completion of a $40,000 residence in Hartford, said by architects to be one of the most magnificent homes in southern Michigan, is expected by Thanksgiving time, according to P.A. Thomas, of Chicago and Hartford.

     Coming to Hartford two years ago, Mr. Thomas has launched into the dairy business here on a large scale.  His several farms here have been stocked with blooded registered cattle, and he recently began distribution of the farm diary products.

Now enjoying the role of a “gentleman farmer,” Mr. Thomas has been successful in Chicago as a manufacturer of a hair restorer and as a tonsorial operator

Began Building In June

      Last June 5, deciding to make his permanent home in this community, he began construction of the $40,000 residence on a hilltop southeast of the village and overlooking the town.

Approximately 20 rooms comprise the structure, which stands whitely against a woods on that eminence.  It is located directly in the rear of his farm buildings which face the Keeler road, and about a quarter of a mile east.

A boulevard drive will sweep over the estate, through arched entrances, to bring a visitor to this modernistic mansion.

First Struck Quicksand

A misadventure marked the first attempt to build foundations for the Thomas residence. Uncertain footing, blamed on presence of quicksand in a locality near the highway, delayed progress. The home site then was moved to higher and firmer ground.

Steel used in the construction never before has been employed for the erection of a home, says Mr. Thomas. White, marble-faced blocks and Monolythic fluted, concrete corses are attractively displayed as the finishing touches of the exterior.

     With dimensions exactly 55 feet by 65 feet, an English basement provides the foundation for the emergence of two pale-shaded stories. An electrically operated fountain will descend into the maroon tiled pool below, and the grounds promise a beauty of sloping terraces and perfected landscaping.

Home Completely Fireproof

     This country villa is completely fireproof. Water is supplied automatically by two pumps. The heating system is a combination of washed hot air and steam produced from an automatic oil-burner.

     Double garages whose doors are directed to open with an electric eye will furnish accommodations for the owner’s cars.

     One hundred light openings, 90 electric receptacles, 20 sets of three-way switches, concealed radiation, air-conditioning, and indirect lighting are features noted in this new home.

 Install Marble Fireplace

     The basement contains a recreation room, servants’ quarters, and a wine cellar.

     The first floor is entered through a vestibule of marbleized walls and tile floor extended into the hall and throughout the entire level.

     The living room and the doctor’s study will be brightened by the blazing logs in an ebony enameled and Egyptian marble fireplace. For living accommodations, there are a breakfast nook, modern kitchen, dining-room, bath and lavatory.

 Imports from Germany

     Breakfasts will be served beneath the illumination of a chromium chandelier 56 inches in diameter and reflecting on the unusual wall papers specially imported from German.

     Fascinating are the arches, square in one room and curved on the other side. Upon reaching the living-room, no shadow is cast on the other patterns from across the sea – French wall-papers in royal blue coves with vermilion fluting – for the indirect lighting affords none.  Casement windows with wide sills of marble present a far-reaching view of the surrounding countryside.

Sun Rooms On Second Floor

     Withdrawing to the upper quarters, guided by a chromium stair rail a visitor enters the master’s bedroom at the north end of which is a marble fireplace, and at the opposite side a fully-equipped dressing room.  Mrs. Thomas’ bedroom also is provided with a marble fireplace and her dressing room contains numerous fitted cases and chromium plated racks.

     All four of the tile bathrooms, in exquisite shades of Ming green, orchid Persian brown, and marine blue, disclose showers with plate-glass doors and full spray fixtures.  The bathtubs are neo-angle and Mermaid in shape.

     Rays of the sun are brought healthfully through wide windows of two sun-rooms on the second floor through wide windows especially treated to admit ultra-violet rays.

Designed by Chicagoan

     Charles P. Rosson, a Chicago architect, designed the extensive and expensive plans of the house.   C.C.Young, a South Haven engineer, developed them into a reality.  The necessities of a well-established system of ventilation, plumbing, warmth and light were supplied through the efforts of Charles Ympa, Howard Hulbert and Ray B. Lundy.

     Even now, this former Chicagoan’s home, which Mr. Thomas claims to be the only one of its kind in the United States, is so unique in design and construction as to attract wide attention.


 This is the original photo that accompanied the 1936 article above about the Thomas Mansion.  Name of newspaper (presumably, the Day Spring) and author (presumably, Don F. Cochrane), are unknown.

2007 – additional notes:
This 9,000 sq ft home contains 7 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, huge walk-in closet off master bedroom, wine cellar, sun rooms, penthouse and has been restored to beautiful condition. 

The Herald Palladium

Hartford Mansion becomes group home

HARTFORD — Hartford Mansion House, built in 1935 by a millionaire from Chicago, is now home to Hartford Lifestyle Center, a residential care facility specializing in people with head injuries.
     Manager Sharon Parkins said the group home opened on July 27 and is licensed for 10 residents. Her husband, Pastor Kevin Parkins, is the home’s spiritual counselor and has recovered from a head injury himself.  He is also pastor of the Eau Claire Friends and Faith Church. The couple is originally from Berrien Center.
     While the home specializes in caring for people with head injuries, Sharon Parkins said they will consider residents with other medical issues who need 24-hour care. Because the home has stairs, she said residents must be able to walk.
     In 1993, Kevin Parkins was in an automobile accident and suffered a closed head injury. Sharon Parkins said it took a couple of years before she was able to leave her husband alone. At the same time, she was raising five of their six children, with the youngest only three months old. He has now fully recovered.
     At the home, she said they will provide the mental puzzles needed to stimulate the nerve endings in the brains of the residents so they can become independent. They will also provide a diet of natural, unprocessed foods and vitamins the brain needs to heal.
     The business is owned by K.C. and Theebam Mammen of Berrien Springs. They have operated several adult foster care homes in Berrien and Van Buren counties and have more than 30 years of experience in home care service.
     A registered nurse will visit the home once a week and be on call at all times. A doctor will visit once a month.
     For an appointment, call 621-2200.

Click on the articles below to continue with other articles about the Thomas Mansion:

Leaders of Jersey Cattle Industry are Guest of  Dr. P.A. Thomas Here

Quicksand Halts Construction of New Thomas Home  


Information for this web site was gathered from personal interviews, newspaper articles, scrapbooks, personal photo albums, and other documented materials - many available to the public at the Hartford Public Library or Van Buren County Historical Museum.  Please report any typographical errors, updated information, or incorrectly stated information to the webmaster for correction.  Reprinting for personal and instructional purposes is permitted, however, unauthorized commercial reprinting of this information or unauthorized linking to photos-pictures on this site is strictly prohibited without written permission from the webmaster. 

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HartfordHistory Icon - Hartford MI

Pearls In Our Past - Hartford Michigan
A Pictorial History of Hartford Michigan
Emma Thornburg Sefcik
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History of Hartford Michigan
Copyright © 2000 - All rights reserved.

Revised: March 23, 2009