Welcome to the Starkweather Building, home of the Starkweather Arts Center. This building was built in 1865 and has had many uses over the years. From the late 1800's until 1987, the building was owned by the Starkweather family. Helen Starkweather, an art and drafting teacher in the Romeo schools for over 30 years, was the last person to reside in the building. Upon her death in 1987, the building was bequeathed to the Romeo Historical Society with the stipulation that it be used as a community art center.
The Starkweather Society was formed and with contributions of time, labor and funds from many sources, the first floor was opened as an art center in November, 1999.
We are a 501 (c) 3 non profit and rely entirely on donations, memberships, sales, event revenue, and grants for our operation.
Ford Gallery and Gift Shop Area:
This area was the space used by Helen's mother as a millinery shop. The building was divided into a north and south space by a wall, part of which was removed to make the space into one area. The area that houses our gift shop was the workroom for the millinery and the millinery supplies and hats are stored in these cupboards above. A wall originally divided the workroom from the front sales room.
Fireplace Room, Dining Room Bedroom, Bath & Kitchen:
Helen Starkweather used this back space of the building as her living quarters, and she made many changes to the building. The front angle door was added on Main Street, and the living space was changed into an "Arts & Craft" Decor with the addition of the bay window and fireplace in the fireplace room and pannelled walls and Craftsman windows in the dining room and kitchen. The ceilings were also dropped. The small room off the Dining Room was Helen's bedroom, and is now used as an office. It has a closet and a set of built in drawers. The bathtub was removed from the bathroom and the room was reconfigured.
The Romeo Indian Village Questers restored the kitchen in 2011 with the aid of a Quester Grant. The cast iron sink was brought down to the main floor from one of the upstairs apartments and the Hoosier cabinet was purchased by the Questers. The folding shelf below the window was designed by Helen and includes iron brackets made at the Clyde Craig Blacksmith Shop in Romeo.
This area originally was used as a warehouse and was converted into apartments in the 1940's. The north side and south front rooms were one apartment and a two room apartment was in the southwest rooms. A wall divided the front two rooms and has been removed, along with three layers of ceilings to create our upstairs gallery and music performance area. The windows were restored in 2008 to their original "two over two" configuration and the flooring was replaced with block grant funding. The heating and cooling and gallery lighting was accomplished with a grant from the Four County Community Foundation.
We opened the upstairs for use in November 2009, ten years after the main floor opened.
Landing Room and Classroom:
The pine floors in the Landing Room are original and were restored. We aren't sure where the Victorian mantle is from...it may have been removed from the main floor when Helen added the Craftsman mantle. We also have an art classroom and storage area. Musicians use it as a "warm up" room on open mic nights.
Carriage House and Garden:
The courtyard garden was restored by the Questers in 1995 and included the restoration of the three iron gates and window well grates. An iron fence was added between the gates replacing a wire one. Plantings were donated by Wiegand's Nursery in Macomb.
The Carriage House dates from the 1930's. The building was designed by Helen using salvaged bricks from a demolished Romeo mansion - the same building where she rescued the fantastic iron gates. The beams came from her family barns that sat on the current Village Park site. Helen used this building as her art studio. The pew is the Starkweather pew from the Methodist Church... half is installed in the upstairs loft and the other half is upstairs in the Gallery.
Note the iron work on the beam overhead and the brackets on the stairs.
The basement was dug out by Claire Tincknell, after the building was built. Claire worked as a handyman for Helen. He said he was never allowed to purchase new wood, he was to use what she had salvaged!
He and his wife lived in the large apartment in the upstairs in the 1940's.