Sixth Street in Traverse City is a quiet, cobblestone street lined with large trees and grand Victorian homes, but none is more stunning than the massive Perry Hannah House, better known as the Reynolds Johnkoff Funeral Home. It towers over the rest of the street with it’s turrets, gables, and magnificent wrap around porch. Tours of the house by given by appointment, and it has even played host to a wedding.
The Hannah House was built from 1891 to 1893 by the father of Traverse City, Perry Hannah, the lumber baron. It was built by the Hannah’s as a retirement home, and it was the first home in Traverse City to have central heating and the second house to be wired for electricity.
“But some of the fixtures were still gas powered as Mr. Hannah was not sure the new concept of electricity would catch on,” says Funeral Director Rick Harkert with a smile.
From 1934 to 1937, the Hannah House was a school after a large portion of the Traverse City Central School burned to the ground. In 1937 it was bought by the owner of the Weaver Funeral Home, who made the Hannah House a funeral home ever since. In 1983 it was renamed the Reynolds Jonkhoff Funeral Home.
The house is roughly 6,000 square feet with 40 rooms in total. The loving attention to detail is evident throughout the house. There are 10 fireplaces, each intricately carved with details that correspond to the type of wood the mantelpiece is made of: one made out of cherry wood has little cherries, one made from oak has oak leaves. The glass panels in the front door, the china cabinet, and the stained glass window are from Tiffany’s of New York.
The unfinished attic is particularly amazing. It was originally supposed to be a ballroom, but the Hannah’s were in their late sixties when the house was completed and they decided they did not need a ballroom anymore. There is a skylight that runs through the entire building down to the first floor entry hall. A little porch on the roof of the building gives a splendid view of the city Perry Hannah helped build.
It cost $40,000 to build the house, but today it is estimated to be well worth over a million dollars, possibly even five-million dollars.
The gardens are relatively new and quite stunning with a hedged in portion featuring a lovely gazebo that used to be the bell tower of the local school. There are immense perennials and annuals. It offers a peaceful oasis from daily stresses.
“The massiveness and the intricate woodwork, as well as the species of wood,” make the house awesome according to Harkert. And he’s right, it’s a fantastic building.
~Sarah Blodgett, feature writer