Four and one-half years since repairs started in earnest, we are delighted to announce that the extensive exterior restoration has been completed on Sibley House – and completed beautifully! Through the generous contributions from Christ Church, Detroit congregation, foundations and generous donors, we celebrated – in a most glorious way – the completion of the project in the spring of 2016.
The 1848 Greek Revival home is located at 976 East Jefferson, just east of Christ Church, Detroit. Envisioned by Detroit’s first (appointed in 1806) mayor, Judge Solomon Sibley – and lived in by generations of Sibleys – the home holds an esteemed spot in Detroit’s rich history.
In 1845, Judge Sibley made plans to build a house next to the Episcopal church, Christ Church, Detroit, just organized by his son-in-law, Charles Christopher Trowbridge. Even though Judge Sibley died before the house was completed, it is said that the solid white pine posts that served as the original foundation were handpicked by Sibley himself.
During World War I, the house was used by a French War Relief organization, and about the same time, the Rector and Vestry of Christ Church determined that a greater effort was called for to assist the Syrian and other foreign born families living in nearby neighborhoods. As a result, in 1919, Sibley House was opened as a settlement residence under the direction of the Women’s Guild. One of Judge Solomon Sibley’s granddaughters, Miss “Kitsy,” was the resident hostess. She vigorously resented any suggestion that her work with the settlement house be recognized, and her response to such suggestions was always, “if you do anything of the kind after I am gone, I WILL COME BACK TO HAUNT YOU!” There are those who swear that Miss Kitsy kept her promise as one of the walls in Christ Church has a large brass cross dedicated to her memory.
The settlement house evolved into the Christ Church Neighborhood Club that at the time was considered one of the central contributors of Detroit’s growth as a multi-ethnic city. Neighbors from the surrounding area were warmly welcomed and made to feel at home in their adopted city.
The house was again used during World War II by the British War Relief Society. Following the war, housing was scarce and a veteran and his family moved in. In 1958, the house was fully renovated and modernized so that it could be used as a rectory, and since that time, various groups and tenants have occupied the house.
During the mid-1980′s, the Junior League of Detroit lent its support and funding to restore the house and its grounds. As recently as 2005, a major capital campaign was launched by the members of Christ, Church, Detroit to upgrade the facilities in the house to further support the mission of the church.
Sibley House was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1958; included on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971; and was recorded in the Library of Congress as a distinguished American building in 1934.
The congregation of Christ Church, Detroit has been very steadfast in their overall support of this current restoration including their very generous financial support.
If you have questions and/or comments about the restoration and/or the new fund to secure the dollars for a Michigan Historical Marker, please email The Sibley House Fund at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Sibley House Fund is a designated 501(c) 3 non-profit fund.
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