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Our Historic Past

Mr. William Peter

William Peter came to Columbiaville in the mid 1800's as a German immigrant working for the lumber industry. Though he was young and spoke little English he was a man who worked hard, saved big, and took advantage of opportunities that came his way.

In 1852, he married a girl by the name of Roxanna Clute. Just 17 at the time, her father strongly disapproved of the union due to Peter's citizenship. Having no other choice the couple decided to elope. They worked hard over the years and built much of the town we know as Columbiaville. With business interests in the town of Toledo, the couple decided to move. It was there that they bore and raised two children, Harriet and Alvin.

In 1892, the Peter's decided to move back to Columbiaville and the Mansion was begun. At this time, Mrs. Peter picked out the place she wanted to live, at the corner of 2nd and Water Street. This would put the Mansion right in the middle of town, for convenience as they were growing old and she wanted to be in the center of activity. Roxanna had planned it all herself. 

 

The materials used in the Mansion's construction came from Peter's own lumber yards. The wood, and many other materials, was shipped from their own factories in Toledo and Bay City. The brick for the 18 inch thick outer walls was from The Peter brick yard. The only materials that did not come from the Peter's operations were the marble, sinks, and tubs. The marble that is located throughout the Mansion came from Germany. The original sinks and tubs came from Europe.  Peter's hired craftsmen and artists from all over, many from Germany, to finish the woods and paint the walls and ceilings with gorgeous designs, birds, and flowers. The sixteen room Mansion took four years to complete.

 

William Peter (right) with pike pole standing by huge cork pine log with Mrs. Peter (left) and their son, Alvin (center).

The Mansion possesses a unique architectural style featuring the cubic form of the Italianate which was popular during that time. The main hall and entrance feature a rich paneled oak on the walls with a beautiful parquet floor made from hard oak. Mr. Peter was an expert on timber and enjoyed surrounding himself with its fine specimens.

Each room has a fireplace with finely carved wood mantels enclosing ceramic tiles of different colors for various rooms. The picture windows and entrance doors are also of beveled glass.

The original chandeliers with their frosted globes were designed to utilize either electricity or carbon gas for illumination. The ceilings in several rooms are decorated with frieze in the plaster of intricate design.

The Peters moved into the Mansion in 1896. Unfortunately, Mr. Peter did not get to enjoy the Mansion for long, as he died in 1899. Mrs. Peter continued to live in the Mansion until her death in 1917. Since then, the home has passed into several different hands. In 1972, The Lapeer County Historical Society placed a historical marker on the lawn. In 1979, the Mansion was registered with the National Registrar. 

The research of the building and history is credited to Robert Blue, a long time resident and historian of Columbiaville. Mr. Blue passed away several years ago. He is sadly missed but fondly remembered.

The Mansion Today 

In the 1980's, the Mansion was owned by the State and turned into low-income housing. This did not last long and the 1990's the Mansion sat empty; until 1998. Teresa Cook, had lived the area for a few years and even had her own craft store just a block from the Mansion.

While browsing a summer yard sale, Teresa caught a glimpse of the interior through a open doorway. During her second look through one of the windows, could not believe her eyes! Inside the 12-foot-high ceilings, large fireplaces, and doors with beveled glass. She was speechless. 

After walking through the Mansion, Teresa decided to take on the project of restoring the Mansion to its former glory.  In September 1998, Teresa had the keys to the Mansion and was ready to get to work.

When she and her family began the restorations of the Mansion, Teresa worried that she was in over her head by taking on such a large project. "We've had many, many hard days. Many days I've thought, 'What have I done?' " That thought lasted until the day the Christmas tree arrived.

Wayne, Teresa's father, decorated the tree and set it up in the front room to bring some life into the Mansion. That simple tree gave Teresa hope and motivation to continue on with the project. "My Dad did a lot so I could continue what I was doing. None of this would have been possible without his help." 

After a year of cleaning, and thousands of dollars later, the Mansion had its doors open to the public for the first time in several years. 

Today, the Mansion is a place to relax and have a good time with friends and family. From staying the night in one of our beautiful bedrooms, or enjoying a night of murder and mayhem, the Mansion will take you back in time. 

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