Calvin A. & Alta (Koch) Campbell House

People: Alden B. Dow

Date: 1940

City: Midland

Calvin A. & Alta Koch Campbell House, Alden B. Dow, 1940.  Michigan State Historic Preservation Office File Photo.

The Calvin A. and Alta Koch Campbell House, located in Midland, Michigan, is a two-and-one-half story, motified T-plan, brick and panel house with a hipped roof. The house is set well back from the street on a sloping, corner lot that sits adjacent to the Dow Gardens. The South-facing house is an elegant example of the prewar architecture of Alden B. Dow.

In the summer of 1939, Calvin Campbell contacted Dow about designing a home for him. At this time in Dow’s career, he was moving away from the unit block system he had developed, and beginning to work more frequently with other exterior materials. The plans for the house were drawn in the late summer and sent out for contractor’s estimates. The Fred C. Trier Construction Company won the contract with its bid of $25,000. Work on the house began in September 1939, and it was completed by the following July. The final cost of the house was $26,586.

Calvin Campbell was a fraternity brother of Alden Dow’s at the University of Michigan in the 1920s, and later became vice president and general counsel of the Dow Chemical Company. On March 31, 1949, he and his wife Alta accompanied Willard Dow, president of Dow Chemical and brother of Alden, and his wife, Martha, to M.I.T. to hear Winston Churchill speak. The company plane that carried them went down in icy conditions over Ontario. Mr. Campbell was the sole survivor. In the resulting reorganization of the company, he was named Secretary of the Board of Directors.

The Campbell house is a fine example of the maturation of Dow’s designs. From his early work with unit block or brick plans, Dow later mixed several building materials in a dynamic combination. The Campbell House is elegant yet eminently livable, and an excellent statement to comfort, function, and good design.