The Curtiss House is an historic property built in the Queen Anne/Tudor Revival style at the end of the 19th century. Previous owners of this approximately one-half acre corner lot had landscaped around the house only. Now all the grounds are filled with color and texture including inner gardens accessible through two gates in wrought iron fencing salvaged from a convent and three garden areas outside the fencing. In the inner gardens textures play off each other in curving beds accented with rocks, some of which were bartered for beer or scavenged near Lake Superior. Fethe private gardens, features include a three tiered working fountain planted as a container, a patio made from salvaged brick, and a hidden contemplation garden next to the carriage house on the property that has a wooden swing and a salvaged bronze wall fountain at the terminus. Two marble benches were built from salvage, and a wall built from broken concrete is covered with ivy. Wooden fencing adds privacy and along with the plant material reduces the traffic noise.
The gardens outside the fences are visible to the public and designed to enhance but not obscure the house. One area of iron fencing alongside the driveway is draped in five varieties of roses as well as iris, clematis and yew. The front yard and two side yards are planted with islands of trees with lower tiers of pachysandra, hosta and forest ferns from the upper peninsula of Michigan. Stained cement blocks were used for two container gardens that are planted with vegetables, herbs and annuals on a rotation schedule.
The Center Avenue Historic District of Bay City, Michigan was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The Curtiss House Gardens were included in the Bay City Garden Club's garden walk in 2010.
Persons associated with the garden include: Charles B. Curtiss I, Charles B. Curtiss II, Charles B. Curtiss III (former owners, 1892-1971); William and Toni Holtzapple (former owners, 1971-1987); Ruth Koerber and John Kleekamp (former owners, 1987-1996); Craig and Maureen Johnston (former owners, 1996-2003); William H. Miller (architect, 1891-92).
The folder includes worksheets web links to articles and historic images.