Building History & Features

Origin of 941 & 943 Wealthy Street Southeast

Our building once bore two street addresses. Architect Pierre Lindhout designed the structure for the Helmus Brothers who completed construction in 1916. The building was built specifically to house both the Helmus Brothers' expanding packing, storage, and moving business and the East Grand Rapids Station C Post Office. As such, the structure was addressed both 943 and 941 Wealthy Street. A single, small, central lobby allowed entry to either the eastern half of the first floor (943) or the western half (941).

The East Grand Rapids Station C Post Office occupied 943 Wealthy Street until 1945. The original walk-in safe as well as the tile apron that once laid in front of a teller counter yet remain.

941 Wealthy Street housed the Helmus Brothers Company offices. The entire basement was used for storage and packing. The second floor, oddly enough, was used for piano storage. (It would seem Grand Rapids once had a surplus of pianos given the specialization of piano storage on the second floor and the accounts of for-hire ventures disposing of pianos in Reeds Lake—see the art installation circling the fountain in Gaslight Village, East Grand Rapids).

A doorway in the west wall of the building (now bricked over) once provided access from the Helmus office to the lot adjacent to the building; this likely allowed easy access to the Helmus family home occupying that lot.

 A packing, storage, and moving company (changing names and hands three times in a competitive market) occupied the building from its construction until sometime in at least the 1930s.

Building Occupants

Available entries from the Grand Rapids City Directories:

  • 1917: Helmus Brothers, Moving Vans 
    Accompanying advertisement reads: “Helmus Brothers (Thomas and Sietse), General Warehousemen, Household Goods Moved, Packed and Stored, Chairs and Tables for Rent."
  • 1919: Helmus Brothers Furniture Storage
    Accompanying advertisement heralds “Fireproof Storage" referring to Helmus buildings at 947-959 Wealthy
  • 1925: Helmus Brothers Storage
    Accompanying advertisement reads: “Helmus Brothers, Representatives Bekins Household Shopping Co to Old Western Points, General Warehousemen. Household Goods Moved, Packed and Stored. Cheap Rates, Long Distance Hauling, Chairs and Tables for Rent."
  • 1932: Blodgett Packing & Storage Co; Helmus Bros. Inc. Storage
    (Both companies are listed as members of Allied Van Lines with the same management)
  • 1936: Station C Post Office
  • 1945: Station C Post Office
    (Following this year, the 943 address is never again listed)
  • 1946: Vacant
  • 1948-1951: Bell Telephone Co
  • 1953: Vacant
  • 1954-1962: Grand Rapids Rehabilitation League
    (Armen S Kurkjian Center)
  • 1963-1965: Vacant
  • 1966-1987: The Evangelical Literature League
    (A variety of Christian organizations and a bookstore also shared space during this time)
  • 1988-1990: Vacant
  • 1992: Station C Studios
  • Station C Studios
    occupied the building from 1992 until Beero Partners purchased the building in 2003 for the home of Atomic Object's software business.

Architectural Description

The structure is a two-story brick building with a flat roof, metal cornice, and cast stone accents. The facade is divided into three bays by four brick piers capped by Ionic capitals. Centered below the roofline is the name of the builder “Helmus Bro's" in cast stone. The first floor of the main facade includes a centrally located entrance flanked by two large storefront windows. The entrance and windows have been substantially altered over the years and retain essentially no historic fabric. The second story has three sets of triple double-hung windows.

The structure is a two-story brick building with a flat roof, metal cornice, and cast stone accents. The facade is divided into three bays by four brick piers capped by Ionic capitals. Centered below the roofline is the name of the builder “Helmus Bro's" in cast stone. The first floor of the main facade includes a centrally located entrance flanked by two large storefront windows. The entrance and windows have been substantially altered over the years and retain essentially no historic fabric. The second story has three sets of triple double-hung windows.
The interior of the first floor was substantially altered over the building's life for rehabilitation facilities, book storage, and acoustically tiled studio space. A historic walk-in safe in the eastern portion of the first floor, however, still exists. Beero Partner's work since purchasing the building revealed the original tile of the post office. The tile apron clearly delineates the line of the original post office teller counter in front of the safe.

The second floor interior was originally entirely wide open storage space. Over its lifetime, various owners and tenants have added small rooms, a bathroom, and an open kitchen. With a ceiling of nearly eleven feet in height, at the time of purchase by Beero Partners, even a small basketball hoop was mounted to the east wall with an accompanying free throw line taped out on the floor. Today Atomic Object's space on the second floor retains an updated kitchen and restroom. The present conference room was once a bedroom. The remainder of the the small rooms have been removed to return the space to an open setting—one conducive to the style of software development Atomic Object practices.

SOURCES

  • Grand Rapids Herald, March 19, 1916
  • Grand Rapids City Directories, 1917-1992
  • Smith-Hoffman, Rebecca and Metz, Jennifer. Historic Preservation Certification Application Continuation Sheet: Station C Post Office at 941 Wealthy Street SE

PHOTO CREDITS

  • 1939 & 1957 Facade images by permission of the Grand Rapids Public Library.
  • All other photos Copyright Atomic Object.