The Bell Tower

condominiums

219 E Commerce Road, Milford, Michigan

New Residential Options in Downtown Milford


The Bell Tower project, located just two blocks from downtown Milford, offers six condominiums in a renovated 1903 field stone church, and five new townhomes located across Hickory Street.


The development is designed to provide a higher density single-family residential option in proximity to the village shopping districts, and an alternative to the surrounding single family homes.  It is intended to serve the needs of empty-nesters, young professionals and couples that are seeking a more urban lifestyle within walking distance of a vibrant downtown with multiple entertainment and dining options.


The renovated fieldstone church includes two garden level units and four street level units.  Garden level units will include recessed patios.  All street level units include decks and cathedral ceilings.   A unique common features is the Bell Tower platform accessible by spiral stair, which will provide breathtaking views of the Village.

 

The new townhomes include five two story units with attached two car garages accessed from the back of the units, and additional guest parking located along the east property line.  Each unit will have a full basement.

 

Construction of the condominiums was completed in 2016.  Construction of the townhouses is anticipated in 2018..   


The History of the Bell Town Building

Milford began at a point where Pettibone Creek flows into the Huron River. It started when the Ruggles Brothers, Elizur and Stanley, built a sawmill on the Huron Riverin 1832.   By the early 1840s, Michigan had become the 26th state and Irish immigrants were fleeing the famines.  Some of these families settled in the Milford area and were served by the Roman Catholic missionaries in White Lake and Pontiac.   About ten years later, Daniel Morrison and his parents, James and Katherine Morrison, offered their home at 320 West Commerce for the celebration of the first mass in Milford.   Many residents continued to travel to Dublin Chapel in Union Lake for special events and Mass. 

 

The first official Mass was celebrated by Fr. Wicart on the second Sunday of October, 1863 on the upper floor of Morrison’s General Store at the corner of Commerce and Main Street.   On that day, and subsequent Sundays, music was provided from a melodeon, or small pump organ, that Fr. Wicart would bring in his buggy or sleigh when he traveled down from Pontiac.

 

In 1870 a small English style white frame church was built on Summit Street and the property to the east was purchased for a cemetery.   This area, where the Saint Mary’s Cemetery still exists, was called “Church Hill”.  The first pastor was not appointed until 1890. 

 

On October 20, 1903, under the leadership of Fr. Thomas Halley, the cornerstone for what became known as the Stone Church on the corner of Commerce and Hickory as laid.   Plans for the new church had begun around Christmas of 1901, when Fr. Halley called a meeting of the men of the parish one Sunday after service, presented the matter and asked for suggestions, but stated that any plan to move or repair the old church building on Summit would not be considered.   There wasn’t much said by the parishioners at the meeting and little encouragement was forthcoming.   However, the work of securing subscriptions began the next week.   As the people became acquainted with their leader, it was evident to them that something would be done and that the work never faltered.  A plan was devised to move the Rectory from its current location at the northwest corner of Commerce and Hickory, north one lot on Hickory (this house still exists) and to build a new church on that corner, facing East Commerce.   The forty-five members of the church diligently raised funds for the next five years.

 

On March 28, 1903, Fr. Halley received the detailed architectural plans done by Architect Harry J. Bill of Detroit, with an estimated cost of $7,500 to complete the church, not including electric light fixtures and heating plant.   The building design was of Gothic architecture, 45 by 94 feet outside and with side walls of 20 feet and a spire 60 feet high, built of local field stone with projecting points at the corners, trimmed with cut limestone and a slate roof.  The ground plan was a parallelogram, with slight extensions on either side toward the north, giving it the modified cruciform effect.   The interior wood work was of red oak with egg-shell finish.  The pews were of oak and the audience room 65 by 40 feet, seating 300 comfortably.  The building was to be well lighted by over 100 elective lamps and heated by a hot air furnace. 

 

Bids went out in April of 1903, and were awarded to Sam Richmond of Milford to move the Rectory.   Sam became ill and another mover from Northville was called in to complete the move on April 25th.   Adolphus Kuehnle of Howell was awarded the building contract.  Work began quickly at the end of April, parishioners did the excavating, their horse drawn wagons hauled tons of natural field stone, gravel and sand from area farms, and they pitched in wherever they could. 

 

Contactor Kuehnle carried on the construction during the summer but before the end of the season he became bankrupt, and forfeited his contract.   Local builder Hiram A. Lowell of Milford took over supervision of construction and stone masons John Maloney and W.J. Cochran did the majority of the stone work.   A new architect, Donaldson & Meyers was hired to complete the construction.  

 

A corner stone was laid October 20, 1903 by Bishop Foley, and from then until the day of dedication, the construction was continued as funds permitted.   Father Halley adhered strictly to the pay-as-you-go plan.  He organized the Milford Dramatic Club which entertained the Milford public with dramatic mysteries and thrillers and raised over $3,000 for the building fund.   The Ladies’ Alter Society, the Young Ladies’ Sodality, the Young Men of the church and other groups raised money through bazaars, dinners, socials and subscriptions to pay for the new building.  A statement shows that they raised $3,298 for the building in 1904.

 

Sunday, July 7, 1907 was the dedication day.   Records show that the church and furnishings were almost fully paid for at a cost of $16,000, with the exception of about twelve hundred dollars.   Impressive ceremonies were held to dedicate the new church.   Bishop Foley was present to perform the service and the large audience that filled the church came from miles in every direction and included many besides the regular members. 

 

In 1967, St. Mary’s Lady of Snows moved to their new church on East Commerce Road and began a new era.  Another church and several different business have used the building on Commerce and Hickory over the years including Hypnotists, Party Rentals, and Physical Therapy.   In 2014, this beautiful and historic building was purchased and renamed the Bell Tower Condominiums.   The Bell Tower Condominiums have created the most unique living experience in Michigan by providing luxury living while maintaining the historic integrity of this 109 year old field stone church.

 

Special thanks to Linda Dagenhardt and the Milford Historical Society for this article.  

Contact Us

For information on availability and price, please contact:

Tige Reader

RE/MAX Classic

800 N. Milford Rd, Suite 100

Milford, MI 48381

Office:  (248) 684-6655
Direct:  (248) 496-4500

Email:  tige.reader@outlook.com

Website:  www.tigereader.com