In the mid-1800’s, the Territorial Road was one of three main east-west routes across Michigan, allowing pioneers and farmers to travel from Detroit, through Battle Creek, all the way to St Joseph.   It was literally the I-94 of its day.  That’s where Battle Creek’s first schoolteacher, Warren B. Shepard, chose to build a two-story brick home.  That was 167 years ago, and the house still stands today.  If you live in Battle Creek, you may have driven past it hundreds or even thousands of times.  If you’re like me, you wonder what it was like in those early years, and what the house could be if the right person bought and renovated it.   Well, that person has come along, thanks to efforts by Calhoun County Treasurer Brian Wensauer, and Krista Trout-Edwards, executive director of the Calhoun County Land Bank.

Be sure to click through the photo gallery at the bottom of this story to see the inside of the house. 

Tim Collins, Hans Stark, Krista Trout-Edwards, Brian Wensauer TSM Photo

Back in early March, the county decided to try one last time to save the home, one of Battle Creek’s oldest.

As we reported earlier this week, Executive Growth Properties LLC purchased the historic home at 373 Riverside Drive, and have plans to renovate it.  Owners Hans and Alicia Stark, who also own Michigan Tile and Carpet in Battle Creek, have done this type of work before, recently restoring the house on Capital Avenue N.E. that housed the old RSVP Restaurant.

I was invited to see the inside of the home.  It was very interesting, and I felt a definite presence of some kind inside.   Not anything evil, but more like a lonely and isolated person who welcomes rare visitors who come with good intentions.  There’s no electricity in the boarded-up house, so I explored the house, armed only with my trusty iPhone and one of Hans Stark’s Dewalt power flashlights.

The downstairs is pretty much an open room, with lots of red brick, hand-hewn beams, and some old wooden trim.   I looked down the basement stairs and decided against a trip down there.  But as I took a flash picture, I noticed something odd.   Some floating orbs---lots of them.  I carefully made my way up the steepest stairway I’ve seen in a while, to the upstairs.  More orbs.  I kept taking flash pictures trying to figure out what I was seeing.  Maybe dust?  Maybe moths?  Maybe some sort of “presence”?   I don’t really believe in such things, but there was something there.   Check out the video.

Hans Stark says the inside of the home will be gutted down to the brick and beams, and says he’ll also salvage and restore as much of the woodwork and trim as possible.  The building will need a new roof, but the home is in exceptional structural shape, and is dry inside, thanks to the Battle Creek Community Foundation putting a roof on it 20 years ago. Stark says he’ll also re-build the front porch and rear kitchen addition, which were removed several years ago.

373 Riverside-Shepard House-Willard Library Photo

Check out our photo gallery.  It’ll be fun to see the new photos in about two years, in the summer of 2021.    Hans Stark will be my guest on the 95.3 WBCK Morning Show next Tuesday, June 18th, following the 8 o’clock news.

Click Through the Photo Gallery Inside Battle Creek's Shepard House