Henry T. Brush

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Henry T. Brush
Jeanie F. Brush (née Campbell)

Henry T. Brush (August 9, 1849 – July 15, 1879) was an American architect who practiced in Detroit, Michigan in the latter part of the 19th century.[1] Brush was born in Detroit, the son of Amanda Brush. Henry's father was from Canada and died by the time he was 11. Amanda remarried William Cicero Grant, who was instrumental in the early education of Henry and his older brother James. William was a mathematical instrument maker.[2]

Education and career[edit]

Henry started working in 1868 at the age of 18 as an architect/draughtsman in Detroit. In 1872, Henry obtained a job at the Detroit architect office of J.V. Smith & Co. The next year, he moved to the firm of Porter & Watkins for a short time before he and Hugh Smith formed their own company. In the second half of 1875, Hugh and Henry split and formed separate firms. George D. Mason originally started his architectural career with Smith’s new firm in an effort to learn to design cornices from him, but that only lasted a summer. By fall, Mason had moved to Henry’s firm as he thought opportunities were better there. Henry’s firm must have initially struggled, either from the split with Smith, or the ongoing economic depression, seeing that Mason worked for nine months there without pay. In 1878, Mason left Henry's firm. That same year, Henry formed a new partnership with John M. Donaldson. Brush and Donaldson remained partners until Henry's death in 1879.[3]

Family life and death[edit]

In 1872, Henry married Jeanie Flora Campbell. In 1874, their first and only child, Annie Frances, was born. Jeanie soon succumbed to complications of the birth, dying on September 18, 1874.[4] In 1876, Henry married Charlotte M. Grosvernor. The next year, their first and only child, Frederick F. Brush, was born.[5][6]

During the late 1870s, Henry suffered from chronic bouts of depression due to the loss of his first wife, Jeanie, and business failures due to the economic upheavals in the country resulting from the Panic of 1873. On July 15, 1879, at about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, after lunch with his family, he proceeded up to his workroom in his house on 157 Wayne Street in downtown Detroit. A while later his wife checked on him and he seemed fine consulting some books and working on some drawings. Upon her leaving, Henry removed two revolvers from the desk drawer and slowly positioned himself on the floor of his workroom. He placed the two revolvers in his mouth, one belonging to himself and one to Charlotte's father, and discharged them both simultaneously.[7][8]

Charlotte married Henry's last business partner John M. Donaldson in 1882 and the two raised Fredrick as well as two children of their own, Alexander and Bruce. Annie Frances, the daughter from Henry's first marriage to Jeanie Flora Campbell, was raised by the Campbell family in Orchard Lake, Michigan.[9][10][11]

Selected commissions[edit]


All buildings are located in Detroit, unless otherwise indicated.
  • Methodist Church of Canada, located on East Park near Queen, Chatham, Ont., Canada (1873)
  • Orchard Lake Chapel, Orchard Lake, Michigan (1874)
  • Central Hall (with Hugh Smith), Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Michigan
  • Detroit Public Library (with Hugh Smith) (1875–1877) – demolished, replaced by Downtown Library in 1932
  • Williamston School House (with Hugh Smith), Williamston, Michigan (1875) – burned, 1887
  • Ransom Gillis House (with George D. Mason) (1876 or 1878)
  • Clement Lafferty House, West Fort Street between 12th and 13th streets (1876) – demolished
  • George O. Robinson House (with Hugh Smith), corner of Cass Avenue and Ledyard (1876) – demolished during WWII
  • David Ward House, West Bloomfield Township, Michigan – demolished
  • Ypsilanti High School, Ypsilanti, Michigan
  • Twenty-first Street Public School (1874)
  • Seventh-Day Adventists' Tabernacle, Battle Creek, Michigan
  • Woman's Hospital and Foundlings' Home (1876)
  • Public School Windsor, Ont., Canada
  • Shaarey Zedek Synagogue, at Antoine and Congress Streets
  • Residence of Hon. T. W. Palmer, corner of Woodward and Farnsworth (Interior Alterations)
  • Residence of L.L. Farnsworth, corner of Woodward and Frederick (1876)
  • Residence of A.H. West, Petite Cote, Ont., Canada
  • Residence of W.H. Burk, Petite Cote, Ont., Canada
  • Residence of Hon. Henry Heames, corner of Fort and 22nd (1874)
  • Residence of Mrs. Caroline Eaton, Woodward opposite Frederick St. (1872)
  • Residence of E.G. Allan, High St. between Woodward and John R.
  • Residence of A.H. Muir, Jefferson Avenue
  • Residence of J.J. Berger, corner of Russell and Congress Streets
  • Residence of S.B. Dixon, Forest Avenue
  • Residence of C.C. Hickey, Warren Avenue
  • Residence of Wm. McGrath, corner of Cass and Forest Avenues
  • Residence of Wm. J. Fowler, Cass Avenue
  • Residence of Mrs. Willson, corner of High and Clifford Streets
  • Public School building, Franklin, Pennsylvania


  1. ^ Kossik, John M., 63 Alfred Street: Where Capitalism Failed, CreateSpace, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4528-7495-1
  2. ^ Smart, Charles E., The Makers of Surveying Instruments in America Since 1700 (Troy: Regal Art Press, 1962, p. 51-52)
  3. ^ Kossik, 63 Alfred Street: Where Capitalism Failed pp. 15-19.
  4. ^ Personal communication, Re: HT Brush, May 10, 2005.
  5. ^ Marquis, Albert Nelson, The Book of Detroiters : a biographical dictionary of leading living men of the city of Detroit, Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Co., 1908, 496 pgs.
  6. ^ Weeks, Harriet Morse, Descendants of Richard Hayes : of Lyme, Connecticut, through his son Titus Hayes, Pittsfield, Mass.: Eagle Pub. Co., 1904, 192 pgs.
  7. ^ The Dead Architect, Detroit Free Press. Thursday July 17, 1879, Page 1.
  8. ^ Horrible Suicide, The Evening News, Detroit Tuesday July 15, 1879, 4 O’clock Edition.
  9. ^ Marquis, Albert Nelson, The Book of Detroiters : a biographical dictionary of leading living men of the city of Detroit.
  10. ^ Weeks, Harriet Morse, Descendants of Richard Hayes : of Lyme, Connecticut, through his son Titus Hayes, Pittsfield, Mass.
  11. ^ Personal communication, Re: HT Brush, May 10, 2005.
  12. ^ J.W. Weeks & Co., Detroit city directory for 1879 : embracing a complete alphabetical list of business firms and private citizens, a directory of the city and county officers, churches, public and private schools, benevolent, literary, and other associations, banks and incorporated institutions : to which is added a complete classified business directory of Detroit Detroit: J.W. Weeks & Co., 1879, 922 pgs.
  13. ^ Methodist Church pre-1879, Personal communication 5/10/2005
  14. ^ Orchard Lake Chapel and Historic Marker
  15. ^ Ferry, W. Hawkins, The Buildings of Detroit : A History, Wayne State University Press, 1980.
  16. ^ Tracing of Etching of Williamston Public School, Personal Communication, 5/12/2005.
  17. ^ Book on history of Williamston Public School, Personal Communication, 5/12/2005.
  18. ^ Information and drawings of Twenty-first Street Public School, Woman’s Hospital and Foundlings’ Home, Sherey Zedeck Synagogue, Residence of L.L. Farnsworth, Residence of Hon. Henry Heames, and Residence of Mrs. Caroline Eaton from: Farmer, Silas,The history of Detroit and Michigan, or, The metropolis illustrated : chronological cyclopaedia of the past and present : including a full record of territorial days in Michigan and the annals of Wayne County, Detroit: S. Farmer & Co., 1884, 1071 pgs.
  19. ^ Bricks and Boards, As Built up in Detroit During the Centennial Year 1876, What the Architects Have Done and What They are Doing, Detroit Free Press, December 15, 1876

External links[edit]