'U' returns Inglis House to private family residence

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - 7:02pm

The Inglis House has been sold by the University to buyers who intend to use the property as a family residence.

The Inglis House has been sold by the University to buyers who intend to use the property as a family residence. Buy this photo
Ceren B Dag/Daily

 

The Inglis House, which was once used by University administration to accommodate overnight guests such as the Dalai Lama and President Gerald Ford, has been sold to buyers who intend to use the property as a family residence.

In 1950, Elizabeth Inglis donated the property to the University after the death of her husband James Inglis, who stipulated that the property would be given to the University as a residence for the University’s president. However, Elizabeth delivered a quitclaim deed to the Board of Regents in 1951 as former University presidents have opted for the more centrally situated property of 815 S. University Ave., the traditional home for presidents of the University since its inaugural president, Henry Tappan.

James Kosteva, University director of community relations, explained the house has not been used since 2012 and would continue to incur significant maintenance costs in addition to the cost of necessary renovations.

“It determined that the University would need to spend a minimum of $4.7 million of capital to make the home usable and would need to fund approximately $550,000 on (an) annual basis to operate the property,” Kosteva wrote in an email interview. “The University administration determined that the long-term costs of property exceed the benefit to be derived and that operation of the property was not mission critical.”

The University administration recommended selling the property, and the Board of Regents approved the sale at a meeting in March. The board decided to use proceeds from the sale to establish a new scholarship for students in the Inglis family name.

At an April regents meeting, community members and members of the Inglis family expressed grave concern over the sale of the property. Esther Kyke, a member of the Inglis family, worried new owners could demonlish the home now that it was no longer under University protection. Kyke and a dozen other members of the Inglis family presented the regents with a letter condemning the sale of the home. 

“It has also come to the collective attention of the Inglis family that it has been publicly circulated that we are very pleased with this decision and that the living relatives approve of the sale,” Kyke  read in April. “The intent of this letter is to formally set the record straight and let it be known publicly and in writing that we as a family unequivocally do not approve of the sale of the Inglis House.”

The 4.5 acre property — including the 12,000 square foot house — was sold for $2.1 million to Dan Musser III, owner of Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel, and his wife Marlee Brown.

The couple plans to use the property as a family home for themselves and their six children.

When the house served as a home for the Inglis family, the grounds of the estate included a caretaker’s cottage, a greenhouse and even a peacock house where they kept peacocks on site.

Though the house requires several updates internally, Musser emphasized his intent to preserve as much of the property as possible for the sake of the historical nature of the house.

“As far as the outside, we want to preserve what’s there. As far as the grounds go, we’re looking at old photos,” Musser said.

Musser said his family’s connection to the University and Ann Arbor goes far back. His wife’s father served as a University regent for over twenty years, and she stayed at the Inglis House as a young girl for several nights.

Musser recalled the moment he first saw the Inglis House and said he felt drawn to it ever since.

“One of the first times I met my father-in-law, he said, ‘Come with me. You have to see this beautiful house,’” Musser said.

According to Musser, when the Inglis property had peacocks, the neighbors would complain because of the loud noises they make. As for their plans for the peacock house, Musser laughed. “We’re thinking more along the lines of chickens. We might convert it to a chicken coop.”