The Lilley Mansion was built by Francis Lilley in 1876 and serves as a classic example of the second empire style of architecture. At the time of construction, the town of Spring Lake had yet to be incorporated. Although Spring Lake's population was just 1800, the town boasted nine sawmills, a printing office, three hotels, and five churches of different Christian denominations. The town also had numerous means of commerce, including two general stores, two drug, three grocery, two hardware, two furniture, two butcher, and one feed store! In addition, over half of the total land that now encompasses Spring Lake was devoted to growing fruit.
Born in Essex County, England in 1844, Lilley immigrated with his parents at the age of 11 to America, first settling in New York and later Milwaukee. In 1867, they relocated to Spring Lake, where Francis worked in the Lumber industry. When the town was incorporated in 1869, Francis served on the Spring Lake Council as the elected City Marshall. In 1874, Francis Lilley and George Sisson formed the now famous partnership of Lilley and Sisson, located about three blocks from where The Lilley Mansion currently sits. Two years after their partnership formation, the Lilley Mansion came to be.
In 1866, Lilley married Elizabeth Ballinger. Together they had two daughters, Helen and Maude. Elizabeth passed in 1904 and Lilley on March 13, 1923. Both are buried together at Valley City Cemetery in Muskegon.
After his passing, the home was occupied by William Spencer and his family until 1945, when it was purchased by two dentists, (and the first female dentist in the state of Michigan) Dr. and Dr. Albert Rysdorp and family. In 1959, Clyde Kieft purchased the home and converted it to apartments. In the fall of 2005, Norm Beebe purchased the property and resold it in the Spring of 2019 to the current owner.
Much care and attention will be made to restore the home as diligently as possible, with emphasis on maintaining original architecture, history, ad its importance to the local community.
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