A construction crew used a large excavator to knock down the more than century-old white house at 26 Howard Ave., a block off Harbor Drive near downtown Grand Haven.
Mike LaFave said he grew up in the house, which his great-grandfather, Herbert Fase, built in 1903. The home remained in the family for 113 years until LaFave sold it in February 2016.
According to LaFave, the new owners considered renovating the old house, but determined it needed too much work and instead decided to raze it and build a new one.
“The family that bought the house is a very, very wonderful family,” he said. “I’m very happy that they will carry on their own special lives at this hallowed land.”
LaFave recalls fondly the “good old days” of his childhood, when he and his brothers had the run of the neighborhood.
“We moved in in 1961, when I was 5 years old,” he said. “I was a little kid, hanging out at the Pronto Pup stand in 1961. And when the Musical Fountain first came out in 1962, I remember that. It was really cool. I was really fortunate to have this as my playground. It was sand everywhere.”
In the days prior to the Sandpiper Condominiums, the home afforded a view all the way down the channel to Lake Michigan. LaFave said the home’s expansive front porch was a hot-spot for watching fireworks shows.
“A lot of people, a lot of friends, have memories of this home,” he said.
Today, with condominiums and cottages built up around it, the north-facing front porch still offered a view of the channel, albeit a much more limited view than what LaFave remembers.
Selling the house wasn’t easy for LaFave, he said, but when his mother passed away two years ago, he was left with little choice.
“It was very bittersweet, but I just couldn’t afford it,” he said.
LaFave said he put the home on the market on a Thursday and the sale was finalized by Monday night.
“Location, location, location,” he said. “The home was purchased by friends of the family, excellent people. I couldn’t be more happy. They’re wonderful people to deal with.”
A small crowd gathered to watch the razing Friday morning, including many neighbors who were sad to see the 114-year-old house demolished.
“I’m sure they’ll do some grand and lovely thing here, but I love to see the architecture saved,” said Walker Parmelee, who has lived on the 200 block of Howard Avenue for 37 years. “We’ve walked by this house for years and always thought, ‘What a great spot.’”