Save this old house. This lovely Neo-Classical duplex was built around 1906 by the milliner Bernard Newburger who lived next door at 518 as an investment property. At various times in its history, 514 was further subdivided in to two units, but 516 seems to always have been single family. There was relatively frequent turn-over, especially in 514, but the tenants all worked (or had retired from) the various commercial and industrial enterprises that were making St. Joseph prosperous in the first half of the 20th century.
For the first decade or so of its history, both sides of the duplex tended to be rented to members of the vibrant Jewish commercial class, which isn’t surprising as that is the group that Bernard would have spent his time with. Between 1912 and 1916, the young widow Florence Grinspan and her small daughter live in 514. Her husband Mark, a clothing merchant who had emigrated from Russia to escape the anti-Jewish pogroms, had died suddenly in 1912. Florence worked hard to keep his business going to provide for herself and her daughter. After Florence moved out, Leo N. Lowenberg, the manager of the Paris Hat shop, moved in with his wife Nannette and his daughter Nancy Lee. Leo registered for the draft at the outbreak of WWI while living here, but due to his age (he was born in 1888), he does not seem to have served.
Until 1911, 516 was occupied by the prominent physician Frederick Eliseu. He fled the anti-Semitism of Romania and settled in St. Joseph. In 1896 he made a bit of a splash in the news when he helped to save a two-year-old boy who had been run over by a Wells Fargo Express Wagon while playing on the curb.
The rent at the duplex must have been reasonable because widows were frequent tenants. In addition to Florence in the 19teens, 516 was occupied by Kate Lins, the widow of Charles Lins who ran a dry goods store until his death in 1908 and her daughters until 1913. Emma Marquis, a widowed clerk at Hirsch Brothers Dry Goods, lived in 514 between 1933 and 1942. The person who made her home here, in 516, the longest was Helen H. Damsel who took up residence in 1917 with her husband and remained for decades after his death, until she herself died in 1949.
The first tenant in 514 was the colorfully named Charles Wendall Holmes who lived here until 1912 with his wife Luella (her friends called her Ella) and their son Charles Jr. Both men worked for the important Tootle-Campbell Dry Goods store; Charles Sr. as secretary and treasurer and Jr. as a traveling agent. Ella appeared to enjoy entertaining in the home.
Some of the tenants on both sides were managers and had to face the challenges that came with that position. In 1918, while living in 514 A. Fred Poole, a superintendant of the Larabee Flour Mill had to deal with a strike by workers asking for inc
Some of the tenants of 514 and 516 were immigrants or the children of immigrants. Most were from Eastern Europe, fleeing the anti-Jewish oppression that was endemic at the time. Julius Rose, the occupant of 516 in 1915, was a naturalized citizen from Poland who had a wholesale novelties store. Francisco Joseph Garcia appears to have been the only Mexican immigrant to have lived in the duplex and he was here for only one year, 1921. Garcia was a packinghouse laborer his entire life (he died in St. Joseph in 1955).
Garcia was not the only packinghouse employee to call the duplex home. In 1932 James E. Bullmaster a butcher in the houses lived here with his third wife Lula. Perhaps the most prominent tenant was George H. Damsel who lived in 516 with his wife and family. George was an important man in the livestock industry in South St. Joseph. He began his career in Chicago working for the John Clay Live Stock Commission Company, moving to St. Joseph in 1900 continuing to work for the firm. He was elected twice as president of the live stock exchange and as senior president of the National Live Stock Exchange.
George Damsel died in 1930, but his wife continued to live in 516 until her own death in 1949. In 1946, their daughter Helen N. moved in to 514 with her husband Edward J. Petry.