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The Van Raalte Family Homstead: Its Rise and Demise, 1847-1961 (excerpts)

During the approximately thirty-five years the Van Raalte family lived in the Van Raalte homestead, it was a home filled with children, visitors, and lots of activity... After his wife Christina’s death on 30 June 1871, Van Raalte continued to live in the home with his unmarried daughters Anna and Maria. The 1875 deed of purchase stipulated that the unmarried daughters had the right to continue living in the family home until they married and set up housekeeping in their own homes.

The house has been gone for forty years, but people, especially those who remember the gracious home, still ask the question from time to time: Why was the home of the founder of Holland, Michigan, destroyed? This essay is an attempt to tell the history of the Van Raalte family home and the events that led to its demolition. The intent is not to place blame for the destruction of the homestead but simply to relate what happened and why. Possibly there is a lesson in it for us all that if we do not care for our historic buildings, they may, one by one, be destroyed.