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What Should Happen to the Wilcox House in Plymouth?

Visions for Vacancies: Developments have stalled at iconic Plymouth house, but what would you like to see?

Overlooking Kellogg Park in downtown Plymouth, the iconic Wilcox House commands attention from passersby with its incredible history, yet has remained empty for years.

Built in 1901 by William F. Markham, president of the King Air Rifle Company during Plymouth's heyday as arguably the air-rifle capital of the U.S., the house was sold to Plymouth icons George and Harriet Wilcox in 1911.

In recent decades, however, condominium projects and other development plans have failed to materialize and the house has stood vacant.

Still, it could be argued the house has aged gracefully and still has untapped potential if the right idea comes along.

So, what would you like to see here?

Be sure to tell us in the comments what you'd like to see happen to the Wilcox House. It surely is an important part of Plymouth's history. 

Brad Jensen November 18, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I would like to see someone renovate and live in the house. If it has to be a business, then maybe the Coffee Bean should move into it?
Kristin D. November 18, 2012 at 05:28 PM
I think they should make it into a bed and breakfast or a small hotel.
Sherada Marie Collins November 18, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Yes, a Bed and Breakfast or small hotel.
sandra christner November 19, 2012 at 12:51 AM
I believe, in the light of this economy , the best thing to do is to approach a company such as The Taubmans. Present a plan to open 4 or 5 upscale shops and see if they would be interested in investing. Also Plymouth has a need for some type of grocery operation. Maybe a Whole Foods or authentic Italian market. Perhaps a deli. Maybe Zingerman's of Ann Arbor would be right for the area.
D.Walker November 19, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Finish the restoration and make it part of the Plymouth Historical Museum. It could be filled with the proper period funishings. It could be open to the public for tours and rented out for weddings, historical photo oppportunites, or formal dinners/parties. It could provide job opportunity and additional income for the Historical Society. My niece works at one of the two historical homes in Chicago's cultural area. She gives guided tours and educates school children. The Wilcox House could bring education and income to the city of Plymouth.
Paul Schulz November 19, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Great Idea's everyone, however the price is the biggest problem. First you have to purchase the property for the asking price at just over 4 million dollars, Then you have to build around the current house. You cannot tear down the original house, the city would not allow it. Developing the property without razing the existing building, is not going to happen. Its cost prohibitive. No one will invest if they are not allowed to completely blow out the property with a variance that would not fit the current downtown. Even if a hotel chain were to add on to the existing structure and incorporate it into a new 50 room "mayflower type" hotel, with the prominence of the Townsend Birmingham., the initial 4 mil, kills it. It will probably take another 4 million to complete the project. That is why the property has sat vacant for so long. Look at it this way. If you had say 8 million dollars to invest, would you sink it into that property? And what would you expect back in revenue? Hey and I didn't even get into the property taxes. The best option would to have the city purchase the property for parking. There are 200 parking spots in the rear of the Wilcox house. The house could also be rented out for weddings, events, etc.... Everything stays the way it is for another hundred years, downtown Plymouth gets additional parking, and a lot of couples will celebrate the joy of marriage, on a historical location, that would be preserved for generations to come. SCHULZ DEVELOPMENT
Angie Muscat November 19, 2012 at 01:51 AM
I think D. Walkers ideas are right on. Having lived in Plymouth for 25 years I'd love to be able to walk thru the house. Period furniture and plymouth history would be icing on the cake. The house has a very interesting history. I'd hate to see business go in there. The building belongs to the community.
sandra christner November 19, 2012 at 04:22 PM
This a good idea. :)
sandra christner November 19, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Vote on a millage for the city to purchase it. Yes it would be great to have tours and all the historic value, but that wouldn't generate the money to maintain it and keep it running with a profit.Plymouth is not a prime tourist attraction except for the ice show.It seems a reassessment of the property is in order.
Jim Salamay November 19, 2012 at 08:57 PM
I don't know all the obstacles but I think it would be great if this home could be fully restored and become a municipal property, cared for by the Plymouth Historical Museum. I'm sure couples would book up weekends for weddings and such.
Paul Schulz November 20, 2012 at 12:14 AM
The property is in horrible shape inside. Eventually the house will rot away, be condemned, cannot be saved, and is razed. That's how we lost the Mayflower Hotel. Thats how the development game is played. During World War 2 the property was split into 3 apartments. Two downstairs, and one up, where Jack Wilcox lived. As a friend of the late Jack Wilcox, I can say that he would be very disappointed that the property has not been developed. It was a poor decision that when he offered to donate the property to the city, it was not welcomed. Big mistake. The leadership in Plymouth is failing. A good example is the purchase of the church on Ann Arbor Trail to provide more parking for downtown. The city is right in deciding to purchase land for additional parking downtown. Its needed, and the demand will only increase over the next 20 years. The Wilcox house, at 4 million dollars would have been the best investment for parking long term, right downtown, where its needed. It also allows for various uses of the property, weddings, corporate outings, etc.... You would think somebody up on the City Commission would have some brains enough to figure it out. Who is going to park, or even know there is parking available, several blocks west of downtown. And they will be dumping over 2 million dollars into it.... How foolish! In my opinion, the municipal ownership of the Wilcox House, would be the most prudent decision this commission has ever made. If they only had some foresight!
Paul Schulz November 20, 2012 at 03:56 AM
I have to add, that many years ago, I used hang out with Mr. Wilcox from time to time, and talk with him usually from his front porch. He shared a wealth of Plymouth's history with me. I can share some really cool stories about the treasure trove he had shown me there. Some other time. What I would give just to have him around for just another day. To describe a picture he once showed me of the original home, was simply amazing. Stunning for its time. There was a big gazebo mid property, with cars under it there was what looked like a goldfish pond. And there was a horse carriage under the overhang, next to the porch. In the back you could see the Grange hall, if anyone remembers them. The Wilcox/Markham home is still to this day a gem, and beautiful estate. If I had that kind of cash, and plenty more, I would buy it, add on, and return it to a beautiful victorian, single family home with a four car garage, pool, tennis court, private putting green. You get it! I bet everyone here could imaging living there.... Sitting back, enjoying Friday concerts in the park from your front porch. How cool would that be....
Devanie Weise January 23, 2013 at 05:00 PM
I would love to live in it personally I grew up right behind the wilcox house my house stood right behind it which is now an empty lot they tore down my house a few years ago which made me sad but the wilcox house is part of Plymouth I would love to see it be restored maybe made into a museum of some kind as a part of Plymouth's history.

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