If Only the House Could Talk

By: Danielle Miller, Marketing Manager

As many of you know, on October 28, we hosted an open house to showcase the rebirth of 426 Lafayette. While we do hope to rent the home, the purpose of the open house was to also reflect upon the history, cherish the memories of restoring its beauty, and celebrate its future. In an effort to honor the history, we contacted our local media stations to reach the Grand Rapids community. Lo and behold, the story that WOOD TV8 broadcasted reached a very special individual.

Paulette Guidebeck, of Caledonia, sought out news reporter, Sarah Hurwitz, shortly after she saw her childhood home flash across her TV screen. Paulette, also known as Paulie, couldn’t believe the transformation of 426 Lafayette, and deeply desired to see the home for herself.EPSON MFP image

Sarah Hurwitz kindly referred Paulie to American Realty, where she was eventually able to get into contact with me, Danielle Miller. As marketing manager, I was absolutely honored and thrilled to hear from Paulie. She shared countless stories of growing up at 426 Lafayette, and expressed her interest in visiting her childhood home along with her brother, Dick.

Knowing I would be setting up all day in preparation for the open house, I invited Paulie to meet me for a private tour of the home. Paulie and Dick, along with a few of their closest friends and family members, were amazed when they stepped into 426 Lafayette that afternoon.


Paulie and Dick lived at 426 Lafayette in the 1940’s, nearly 75 years ago. When they moved in, the beautiful, historic home was divided into 4 different apartments. While we sought to highlight the historic charm of the home, the layout today differs from the layout that Paulie and Dick remember. The current “mother-in-law suite” once served as a kitchen, bedroom, and downstairs entrance. The current kitchen served as more bedrooms, and the current butler bar was completely non-existent, showcasing a fireplace in its place. The current living room was, again, more room for sleeping. Paulie, along with her parents and 5 brothers and sisters lived within that space alone.

Despite the tight conditions, Paulie and Dick held excitement in their voices when they reflected upon their childhood memories of living at 426 Lafayette, and were equally excited to see the beautiful transformation.img_3710

While we were able to gather a rich history of the home while working to restore it, we were missing a few decades, with the 40’s and 50’s being the majority of the missing gap. From our understanding, we didn’t think that the home was turned into several units until the late 60’s/early 70’s. It was fascinating to learn that the home stood as several apartments for quite a while.

Today the home stands as a single family unit. Paulie says her friends and family were impressed with the workmanship poured into the home that stands today. Knowing that the home had extensive fire damage and had sat vacant for nearly 25 years, they could hardly believe the home’s rebirth.img_3698

“If only the house could talk and what stories it would tell,” Paulie later expressed in an email thanking me for their tour.

It’s so very true. The home that sits at 426 Lafayette has over 100 years of stories. Stories of struggle, stories of sorrow, and, ultimately, stories of victory. We would like to thank Paulie and Dick for sharing their unique stories with us.