The summer home of Alice Follett Uhl
Edwin F. Uhl was a Grand Rapids mayer, ambassador to Germany in the 1890s, lawyer, and banker. This
was a time when the rich and wonderful all around the country were well connected, and pretty much
felt it was their due to have the absolute best of everything. There are many examples of houses like this one still standing in and around the Grand Rapids area. That Uhl's widow could afford a house like
this just as a summer home illustrates the tremendous gap between those in control and every man. The
really rich, like the Rockefeller's, Vander Bilts, and Astor's, tried to outdo each other in who could have the biggest "cottage" on the ocean shore in Connecticut. Showplaces for the very wealthy and usually
very useless, they were often used for just six weeks a year. Costing around $5 million in and before
1900, in the dollars of those times, when joe average made $1,500 a year, the "cottages" were typically
used for all of six weeks of non stop "picnics" and other festivities meant to impress their peers. A
might cost $50,000. Give to charity? Some, like John D. Rockefeller, did fund substantial foundations.
Others, like the Vander Bilt's, pretty much sqandared the original fortune of $75 million. But that was
$75 million in 1875, which was more than the entire US budget. The home around Grand Rapids are modest
by those standards, but still exemplify a material gluttony and conspiculousness that the rich of today
still enjoy, but make of an effort to hide from the prying eye's of us riff-raff.
This house was originally built in 1898, burned in 1912, and was allegedly rebuilt in an identifcal
GPS cooridinates: 42.917414 -85.654052
Left click on any item below for a much larger version
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The house is on the right.
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