1212 Helen st, Midland, MI
Designed by Alden B. Dow FAIA in 1941.
Louis Butenschoen joined the Dow Chemical Company in 1935 as a member of the sales staff. During his career, he would develop the sales market for dry cleaning solvents and eventually became the manager of the new solvents unit. In 1941, he contacted Alden B. Dow to design a house for his family. A color rendering of the floor plan was presented to the Butenschoens in April, and a contract with the Alden Dow Building Company was signed on July 18, 1941. The $12,200 home was to be completed by December. Though work began immediately, construction actually continued into July of 1942, with the final cost amounting to $12, 728.
The one-story brick house sits on a corner lot close to a number of other Dow-designed homes. Access to this rectangular structure is from a driveway that opens directly into a single-car garage. A low-pitched hip roof holds the structure tightly to the site. A sidewalk from the driveway runs along the front of the house to the main entry. This walkway is partially sheltered by a trellised extension of the roof line that reaches out by the front door.
The front door opens into a spacious living room. Natural brick continues from the exterior to the interior, creating the transition from outdoors to indoors. A wall of windows with a built-in bench below faces the street. A brick fireplace is opposite the windows. Living room and dining room flow together with a gracious curved wall and fir trim molding to match. A large screened porch is off the dining room; the adjacent kitchen is compact and efficient.
The private zone features three bedrooms and a bath and is placed at the rear of the building behind the garage. The master bedroom has a door to the screened porch. Although quite modest at 1,450 square feet, the house is still free-flowing and comfortable. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.