The Union House is a 19th-Century Queen Anne Victorian Farmhouse - an historic remnant of pioneer America built after the Civil War.
In 1830, Elam Beardsley built a log cabin on the property and became the first white settler in Mason Township. The actual age of the home, is unknown, but may have been built as early as 1867. It sits along the old "Sauk Trail" extensively used by settlers and Native Americans traveling between Detroit and Chicago.
Not much is recorded about Elam Beardsley; however, after a short time, he sold his land to his son Othni and "headed west". Over the next 25-30 years, the land was subsequently owned by Augustus Bird, Thomas Pratt, Dietrich Kelb, Adeline Keeler, James Hitchcox, and Helen Miller.
Edward and Mary Ann Pipher bought the land in 1881 for $6,000 and added the original structure. At that time, there may have been as much as 100 acres with the property. Word has it that the house was built by Samuel Rinehart who died in 1882. The original wood frame home was constructed in the shape of a cross. It sits on a stone foundation and a windmill that used to stand on the north side once provided water.
Eventually a granary, chicken coop, wood shed, two-seater outhouse and large barn were included. Many modern conveniences were added over the years including air conditioning, upstairs bathroom, a pool in the backyard and a new 34 foot porch which stretches across the back of the home.
The Pipher family consisted of Edward, his wife, Mary Ann, their 5 children William, John, George, Jennie and Charles. They appear to have been good, God-fearing farmers. They attended church, raised their children and paid their taxes.
Edward Pipher died in 1901, leaving sons George and John to run the farm. Charles and William, as well as Jennie, eventually married and moved off the farm. Jennie married John Cleveland. The bachelor boys lived with their mother in the house until she died in 1924. Ironically, all five of her children died within 10 years of her death. William the oldest, passed first in 1924, followed by Jennie in 1926, Charles and John who died within a week of each other in 1930, and George who died in 1934.
Shortly before he died, George, the youngest and last surviving child, asked Sid Swigart to move in and help run the farm. Swigart, his wife and sons did so and lived there a short time before George's death. The Swigarts continued to live in the house for 12 years and ran the farm.
George's death clouded ownership of the farm because neither he nor two of his brothers had any children. Thus, the heirs to the Pipher house became the surviving grandchildren of Edward and Mary Ann Pipher. One of these grandchildren was Lloyd Cleveland, son of Jennie Pipher and John Cleveland. During the time following George's death, Lloyd Cleveland began to consolidate ownership of the farm by buying out his fellow cousins. In 1946, Lloyd, who had operated a grocery store in Union, moved into the farmhouse and the Swigarts moved into his home in Union.
Lloyd and his wife, Leila, began to modernize the home, bringing the plumbing indoors and adding a telephone. They lived together in the house until Leila became ill and was hospitalized and died shortly after celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in 1963. Lloyd stayed in the house for another 6 years before joining his son George out West.
Bruce and Linda Arbogast acquired the home from Lloyd in 1969 and lived here with their seven daughters for approximately 25 years. They continued to introduce some modern fixtures. They put in a bathroom upstairs, a pool in the backyard, remodeled the kitchen area and replaced the porch across the back of the house. They also owned the Union Market.
In 1995 the Arbogasts sold the home and 5 acres of land to Steve and Tracy Bibler who, after 7 months of intensive renovation, opened the doors to The Union House Bed & Breakfast on Labor Day of that same year. Renovations included 3 bathrooms upstairs, air conditioning, a new well, fenced in back yard, parking lot for the guests, wallpapered and painted all the rooms and painted the outside of the house.
They operated the Bed & Breakfast for approximately one year and later decided to sell the house and move to Elkhart, IN.
Judy Scott and Barbara Wright (sisters) became the proud owners of this magnificent 19th Century farmhouse in May 2001. Judy, retired from General Motors after 32 years, and Barbara, retired from the United States Air Force after 24 years, decided to embark on a new adventure together. After 9 months of cleaning and renovating, they reopened the Bed & Breakfast in March 2002. Some of the improvements to the house include; hardwood floors in the parlor, dining room and bedroom, wallpaper and paint in many of the rooms, sidewalk, nature trail and new septic system. The house is filled with European antiques, souvenirs and memorabilia from around the world. They specialize in "The Simple Pleasures of Life".
More Historical Photos of the Union House:
If you'd like to see a larger view of the photos below, simply click on the photo of your choice and click the right side of the image to move forward through the images (clicking the left side of the image returns you to the previous image).