Activists hope to save 143-year-old mansion
SAGINAW, Mich. -- It was once a symbol of power and prosperity, now the Charles Lee Mansion in downtown Saginaw stands vacant. However, many hoping the spirit of the holidays will help save this historic landmark.
"This will be the 143rd Christmas this house has seen," says Alex Mixter who has produced a documentary featuring the historic mansion. "It's just amazing to think about what this whole street was."
"It was built in the 1870s by lumbar baron Charles Lee," says Cornelius Phelps who works with the Ezekiel Project. "His mill was actually behind it."
While it is officially called the Charles Lee Mansion, many people know it by a different name.
"I'll say the Lee mansion and everyone looks at me and then I'll say the Cat Lady House and everyone goes oh right right right that house," says Mixter.
Rosemary DeGesaro was an actress who lived in the home several years after Lee. She was known for walking her 3-foot tall leopard down Washington Avenue.
"It's a really cool house," says Mixter. "The more you learn about it the more you get hooked on it."
Currently the home is owned by the city which began the process of demolishing the house in 2016 but activists are hoping the county land bank will buy the property.
"That's why were coming out with lights to say this is a really cool house," says Mixter. "We need to put a spotlight on it. It would be really exciting to see this turned into a coffee shop or visitor center or it could be anything."
"This house stood over the transition of Saginaw from pioneer town to industrial hub to what I'm really excited to see us be next," says Phelps.