George M. Flumerfelt House
This Queen Anne-style Victorian residence was built for local businessman George M. Flumerfelt in 1895. Designed by the Fisher Brothers architecture firm of Pontiac, it features Palladian windows and an octagonal corner tower. Flumerfelt built the house approximately three years after his marriage to his second wife, the former Clara Crissman. George Flumerfelt lived in the home until his death in 1917; his widow, Clara, sold the property in 1928, after which it became the home of the A. C. Hobart Funeral Home. William R. Potere and Potere-Modetz funeral homes succeeded Hobart. Since 1928, the house has undergone numerous alterations and additions to accommodate the funeral home business.
Backstory and Context
Rochester businessman and civic leader George M. Flumerfelt built this house as his personal residence three years after marrying his second wife, the former Clara Crissman. The Rochester Era of May 24, 1895 carried the following description of the planned house:
Fisher Bros. have completed plans and specifications for a very fine modern frame house for G.M. Flummerfelt, of Rochester. The structure will be 56x40 feet, two stories and an attic, with octagon corner tower. The basement will be divided into furnace and coal rooms, vegetable cellar, etc., with cement floors, with outside and inside entrances. The ground floor will have a parlor, hall, sitting, bed and bath rooms, kitchen and summer kitchen, pantry, dumb waiter, etc. The hall and front stair case will be of panel work; the sitting room with have mantel, grate and tiled hearth, and the whole first floor is to be finished in oak; and the dining room floor to be of inlaid beech and oak. A colonial porch will extend across two sides, divided by a corner tower.
The second floor is to be divided into four chambers and store room, with closets throughout, all to be finished in Georgia pine, and have balconies over porches. Attic unfinished. The roof will be hipped, with gables and dormers and of slate and with galvanized iron crestings and finials. All windows to be of double thick American glass and doors of double polished plate and art glass.
This will be the finest residence in the village, and reflect credit upon Mr. Flummerfelt, as well as its young designers.
The Era further reported on June 14: "G. M. Flummerfelt [sic] has broken ground for his new residence corner Walnut and Fourth Streets." On June 27, the paper reported: "D. B. Kressler has secured the contract for building G. M. Flummerfelt's new residence, over seven other bidders. Dan always gets there and can build a house cheaper and as good as any man in the county."
The architects, William John Fisher and his brother, Charles A. Fisher, were born in Pontiac, Michigan, the sons of German immigrants. Both brothers earned degrees from the University of Michigan and founded an architecture and engineering partnership in Pontiac in 1895. Among the firm's projects were the Rapids Motor Company plant, the 1913 Fisher Block at the corner of Huron and Wayne streets in Pontiac, and numerous schools and business blocks.
In 1928, funeral director Alanson C. Hobart purchased the home, and after adding a garage and remodeling the house, moved his funeral business there in the spring of 1929. The William R. Potere Funeral Home followed Hobart in 1950, and in 1986 John and Mary Modetz purchased the funeral home from Potere and renamed it the Potere-Modetz Funeral Home.
William R. Potere added new chapel and garage space to the building in 1960.
The 1912 History of Oakland County includes a biography of George M. Flumerfelt which reads in part:
Mr. Flumerfelt was born in Oakland township, on September 7, 1838, being a son of William and Esther (Pittinger) Flumerfelt, both of whom were natives of New Jersey. His father was a contractor and builder until he came to Michigan in 1834, locating in Oakland township. He bought one hundred and sixty acres of land and added to this until he had six hundred acres. At the time of his death he was the possessor of five hundred acres. He died in 1884, and his wife followed in 1897. There were nine children in their family: Rebecca and William C., who are both deceased; George M., the subject of this sketch; Margaret, wife of James J. Frost, of Lansing, Michigan; Charlotte, widow of George Green, of Albion, Michigan; Samuel A., Louis C., Abi and Serepta, all of whom are deceased, the last two dying in infancy.
Mr. Flumerfelt attended the district schools and for one year went to high school, and then engaged in work on the farm. He went to Ohio to farm when he was twenty-one, and the following year departed on his extensive western trip. He married Rebecca Cummins on May 10, 1864,and she died in 1890. Their children were four in number: Charles A., deceased; Lizzie, wife of Clark J. Christman, of Alpine, Michigan; William H., of Wyandotte, Michigan; and Walter G., of Detroit, the latter being a machinist. For his second wife Mr. Flumerfelt chose Clara E. Crissman, a daughter of Charles and Laura (Parish) Crissman. They were married on October 19,1892. Mr. Crissman was a native of New Jersey, while his wife was from New York. They came to Michigan in 1832, locating in McComb county, where he followed farming all his life. He died in 1902, his wife having expired six years previously. To their union nine children were born.
George M. Flumerfelt is a Democrat politically. He has held many of the local offices. He was town clerk, was a member of the village board for twelve years, and member of the school board. He was president of the State Savings Bank, then invested with the National Bank, and is a director of the latter. He affiliates with the Methodist church and belongs to the Masonic order and its auxiliary, the Order of the Eastern Star. Mrs. Flumerfelt also belongs to the Eastern Star and was chaplain of her chapter for a number of years.
"G.M. Flumerfelt of Rochester, Will Soon Build a Modern Residence," Rochester Era, May 24, 1895.
"G. M. Flummerfelt has broken ground...," Rochester Era, June 14, 1895, p.1.
"The frame of Geo. M. Flumerfelt's new Walnut st. residence is up," Rochester Era, July 26, 1895.
"D. B. Kressler has secured the contract for building G. M. Flummerfelt's...," Rochester Era, June 27, 1895, p.1.
"A.C. Hobart Buys Funeral Home: Acquires the Flumerfelt Property on Walnut and Fourth," Rochester Clarion, December 14, 1928.
"William John Fisher," in Moore, Charles. History of Michigan (Chicago: Lewis Publishing, 1915), v.2, pp.1020-21.
"Hobarts Retire From Business," Rochester Clarion, June 15, 1950, p.1.
"Potere's to Build Addition Which Will Double the Capacity of Existing Chapel," Rochester Clarion, January 7, 1960.
"George M. Flumerfelt," in Seeley, Thaddeus D. (Thaddeus De Witt), 1867-. History of Oakland County, Michigan: a Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress, Its People, And Its Principal Interests. Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1912, 601-602.
"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MS9K-63R : accessed 13 July 2020), George Fluncerfelt [i.e. Flumerfelt], Avon township Rochester village, Oakland, Michigan, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 81, sheet 4B, family 94, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,735.
"United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MLRV-1QM : accessed 13 July 2020), George M Flumfelt [i.e. Flumerfelt], Avon, Oakland, Michigan, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 117, sheet 8A, family 175, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 668; FHL microfilm 1,374,681.
"United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MZQ5-HWF : accessed 13 July 2020), Clara Flumerfelt, Avon, Oakland, Michigan, United States; citing ED 159, sheet 7B, line 76, family 177, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 789; FHL microfilm 1,820,789.
"United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XQ1V-G78 : accessed 13 July 2020), Alanson C Hobart, Rochester, Oakland, Michigan, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 4, sheet 14B, line 54, family 329, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 1016; FHL microfilm 2,340,751.
"United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K4GB-9WF : 29 February 2020), Alason C Hobart, Rochester, Avon Township, Oakland, Michigan, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 63-4, sheet 10B, line 42, family 236, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 1798.
Rochester Era, July 7, 1933
Rochester: A Sketch of One of the Best Towns on the Map, 1907 [public domain]
Beautiful Rochester, 1897 [public domain]