June 28, 2012

The Imagination Station

The Imagination Station, 2230-2236 14th Street, June 27, 2012.
Image courtesy of
The Detroit News.

At approximately 7:30 am on Wednesday, June the 27th, a single-alarm fire broke out in a vacant home at 2236 14th Street in Corktown. By the time the Detroit Fire Department put out the blaze, it had spread to the vacant house next door at 2230 14th Street. The structures comprised the Imagination Station, which was ultimately intended to undergo renovation and become a center for arts and education. The home to the north (2236--nicknamed "Lefty") has been damaged beyond repair and will be demolished. Its companion ("Righty") sustained serious fire damage and will probably meet the same fate. [Update: I have been told by Mary Carter of the Imagination Station that this house can still be saved.]

The older of the two homes is "Lefty", whose original address was 320 14th Street. It first appeared in the 1873 city directory, when it was listed as the residence of railroad engineer Henry Dole.

Dole was born in Seneca Falls, New York around 1834 and moved to Detroit when he was about twenty-nine years old. He and his wife Martha had five children, all of whom survived to adulthood. On April 17, 1889, his wife died from consumption in this home.

By 1895, Dole had moved and a doctor by the name of Joseph P. O'Dwyer moved in. Interestingly, another doctor of the same name was a pioneer in a medical procedure known as intubation, but the similarity was just a coincidence.

Dr. O'Dwyer was born in Strathroy, Ontario on July 7, 1869. He entered the Columbia College of Physicians at the age of sixteen and graduated at twenty. On October 17, 1893, he married Mary Sullivan in Detroit. They had four children, one of whom did not survive childhood. When Dr. O'Dwyer moved to 320 14th Street, he ran a private medical practice out of the home until he moved around 1901. He later lived next door in a house that once stood where the abandoned Roosevelt Hotel is now.

The houses that comprise the Imagination Station in 1897.

The house to the south did not appear in the city directory until 1893. The address at the time was 318 14th Street, and the head of household was Jeremiah Howe, Superintendent of the Detroit Copper and Brass Rolling Mills.


Born August 15, 1850 in County Tipperary, Ireland, Howe came to the United States at the age of twenty. In May of 1876, he married Margaret Ganley, with whom he fathered nine children, seven of whom reached adulthood. After working his way up through the ranks of a brass company in Connecticut, he accepted a position with the Detroit Copper and Brass Rolling Mills in 1881. The Howe family only lived at 318 14th Street for a short time, having relocated to 227 East Grand Boulevard by 1897. The house appeared to be rented by a number of different individuals after that.

2230 14th Street circa 1954.

2230 and 2236 14th Street in 1961. Photo from DetroitYes.com.

"Righty" in 1976. Courtesy of the State Historic Preservation Office.

Image from the Imagination Station's Facebook page, taken June 27, 2012.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.