There are people who are interested in history, and then there are people who are really interested in history. Ian Tomashik and his loyal companion, Abbey Ashburn, are among the latter.
Ian Tomashik stands near a french door in the house.
In 2018 the couple bought a home on Pardee which concretizes their interest in history. Ian is a follower of Henry Ford, and he is proud of the fact that Matthew and Elizabeth Reckinger became the first Dearborn couple to sell their farmland to Henry Ford. Elizabeth was a Korte, a prominent Dearborn family. Says Ian, “Matthew traded his half of his family’s acreage at Recknor’s Corners, a rural interurban stop near the current Ford Headquarters, for a home at 812 Mason. Mr. Ford paid $500 per acre for their property, and the Reckingers likely used their wealth to erect this rental property at 2650 Pardee. So, indirectly, Henry Ford built this home!”
Ian tracked the line of ownership of the home. He got the records from Wayne County’s Register of Deeds in Greektown. The Reckingers purchased the property from Joseph Grace, the subdivision developer. They erected this home and possibly a twin nearby as rental properties. A 1930 census report indicates that about half of the neighborhood’s homes were used as rentals.
The next couple to own the home were Joseph and Mary Henn, Elizabeth’s daughter from a prior marriage. Joseph had been the Springwells Township highway commissioner and treasurer, the City of Fordson public works commissioner and Springwells State Bank president. They continued using the home as a rental.
One of the renters, William Canter, became one of many killed at the Nowlin Street railroad crossing on June 12, 1928.
Vernon Brown became the home’s first owner-occupant when he moved in with his twin brother, Alfred, and mother, Elizabeth. They lived there from 1941 until 1966. They made several 1950s updates including coved ceilings, stick-built kitchen cabinets, an expansive linoleum floor and upstairs bathroom.
According to neighbors, the Browns were euchre enthusiasts who had the doorway between the living and dining rooms widened and equipped with sliding doors to decrease noise in the living rooms and upstairs bedrooms.
Enola Gay picture signed by Col. Tibbets is part of the house's decor.
Charles and Leona Branny were the home’s longest continuous occupants. They were responsible for the aluminum siding, cast iron porch railings, steel windows and carpeting. From 2005 until 2011 four other families owned the home. Susan and Heather Raitz owned the home from 2011 until 2018. They made several updates including new siding, roof and windows.
Ian and Abbey purchased the home in 2018 after making visits to eight other homes in two days. Ian was persistent in his quest for an older home. As Ian had grown up on Mohawk street and Abbey had grown up on Oak, they were both interested in living in Dearborn. The two came upon the Pardee home. Ian loved the look of the outside. He loved the history and the charm. Said Ian, “The house needed us as much as we needed it!” Abbey loved the floor plan. She is a paralegal, and the home is close to her employer in Taylor.
A Boblo Boat lantern is on display in the house.
The home has a living room, dining room, kitchen, utility room, and an office/craft room on the first floor. There are two bedrooms on the second floor. At an architectural salvage facility in Detroit Abbey spied a set of French doors for the office/craft room, which is undergoing renovation. Ian and his dad, Bob, installed the doors. The couple take pride in the boiler, which was installed by Reckinger Heating and Cooling, from the same extended family that built the home.
Original hardwood floors are covered by layers of plywood and linoleum. The couple will refinish the base floor. Among the couple’s finds when tearing up the old floor covering were a 1955 penny and a bullet.
One of their favorite collectibles is a lifesaver that they found at Village Antiques in Dearborn. Abbey told Ian that someone else had bought it but surprised him and presented it to him as a Christmas present. Among Ian’s interests are Great Lakes freighters, and this artifact came from his favorite ship.
A telegraph used to send Morese Code sits inside the house.
In the living room is a desk from the early part of the last century on which sits a lamp from the Ste. Claire, one of the Boblo boats, that once sailed the Detroit River. The couple has an antique Morse code telegraph. Ian once tried learned the code while he was in high school.
Among the finds in the crawl space was an old milk bottle from the Detroit Creamery Company. It dates from 1929. Coincidentally, Abbey’s grandpa collects milk bottles, and filled it with imitation “milk” for show. Except for the kitchen, the floor of the home is supported by a two-foot hardwood beam. A smaller support sits under the kitchen.
An aerial map shows that there were comparatively few homes in the area in 1925 when the picture was taken. Most of the land was still being farmed.
The items from the past include two dressers that came from Abbey’s great-grandparents, who also lived on Pardee. From them, Abbey and Ian also inherited a picture of the Enola Gay which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. In their travels they met Colonel Paul Tibbets who piloted the aircraft and had him sign their picture.
One of Ian’s happiest days was when he not only was offered his first professional job--at Zoyes Creative in Ferndale--where he is an architectural model maker, but he also saved a piano from the trash. The piano is now a centerpiece of their dining room. He also retrieved a sewing machine table from his grandparents’ cottage on which he built a hardwood top.
A 1925 aerial map of the area where the house sits.
As Ian’s mom’s family was from Mohawk, Michigan, and the family lived on street with the same name, it was appropriate that the couple have a map of that part of the state. It hangs in their living room.
A 1925 aerial map of the area where the house sits.
Ian’s favorite home is Henry Ford’s Fair Lane mansion. He hasn’t purchased it yet. However, he and Abbey have made their start and are walking in the auto magnate’s footsteps.