DemolitionLost WindsorOld Newspaper StoriesOld Photographs

Marcon Home Demolition – Russell Street – 1978

Demolition of old Marcon home on Russell Street recalls memories for 92 year old Alma Cronin

By Brian Porter Star Staff Reporter

“Over there’s where I used to play, and that’s where rose bushes once grew.” More than 90 years of memories came rushing back Tuesday to Alma Cronin as she walked around the Frank E. Marcon house in the old town of Sandwich. “My mother used to go in the back kitchen there and help with the vegetables,” she said, pointing to the overgrown rear entrance where broken glass littered the ground. Wreckers were pushing crowbars through the roof as Mrs. Cronin said her final farewell to the once historic residence. A stately willow tree — its roots uplifted — lay fallen in the front yard.

Despite efforts by the Essex County Historical Association to save the house at 3195 Russell St., a final reprieve had failed. Their hopes had been to move the house from the site at a cost of $40,000. The group raised only $6,000. Tuesday, Dumouchelle Brothers demolition engineers of McGregor began tearing down the 104-year-old structure. The riverfront property where the house stands is destined to become the site of a 67-unit apartment complex. Recognized for its Gothic architectural features, including a steeply-pitched roof and gables, hay window, and porch, the house was considered by some to be a historical land-mark.

Mrs. Cronin, 92, remembers the early life of the house as if it was yesterday. “Yesterday” was the late 1880s when she was a youngster living with her mother and father, Calixte and Rose LeBoeuf, in a small house behind the Marcon property. She remembers taking rides on the old City of Windsor ferry boat that travelled to Duck Island and docked across the street from the house. She remembers rows of peach trees in the orchard east of the house and catching frogs in the Detroit River. And she remembers the “old folk” talking about slaves living in the house near the Marcons. “But I never knew much about that. I was too young.”

Marcon had the Russell Street home built in 1874-75 when he was a prominent city official. From 1870 until his death, he served as Essex County solicitor, deputy clerk of the Crown and deputy clerk of the Essex County court. “The Marcons had money,” Mrs. Cronin said. “Once, when Mr. Marcon was standing with some classy people on his porch, I ran up and gave him a grasshopper. I really got scolded for that.”

The LeBoeufs worked part-time for the Marcons before the family moved to start a small farm near the home when Mrs. Cronin was about six. Later she left school at age 11 to do farm chores and remembers selling milk to the Marcons. On the walls of her senior citizen apartment in the Arthur J. Reaume Manor on Mill Street are pictures of almost a century spent mostly in Windsor. A feisty, grey-haired woman who looks and acts 30 years younger, Mrs. Cronin has out-lived two husbands. The first died in 1931 and the second in 1963. She has three children, all living in Windsor, nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

A lifetime collection of yellow, tattered newspaper clippings are stuffed in a fat envelope tied with a pink ribbon and kept in a special drawer. “I’ve had a pretty busy life so I can remember a lot of things,” she said. She worked as a furrier for several years in the city.

Despite her memories of the Russell Street home and her life around it, she isn’t bitter that its time has come. “I’m against spending money on old buildings like that … I don’t know anybody who would go and see it,” she said, suggesting the restoration money should be used to help people such as senior citizens.


As a side note, while Mrs. Alma Cronin is listed here as being 92, her age is probably off. She passed away in March, 1983, due to injuries she sustained from a fire in her apartment in February, 1983. In her obituary she was listed as being 95 years old.

Fire victim, 95, dies in hospital

Alma Cronin was an independent woman who, at 95, charmed her friends and relatives with a warm personality. Mrs. Cronin died Wednesday of injuries suffered in a fire at her Mill Street apartment Feb. 24. She had suffered smoke inhalation and second- and third-degree burns to her arm, leg and hip When flames broke out in her bedroom, on the second floor of Arthur J. Reaume Manor at 605 Mill St. She died about 4 p.m. at Metropolitan Hospital. Coroner Dr. D.J. Broadwell scheduled an autopsy for today. Vincent Wilds, 67, a son from Mrs. Cronin’s first marriage, said his mother fought death with a determination that belied her age. “Her heart was as sound as this table,” said Wilds. “I don’t think any of us could have survived this long what she went through.”

MRS. CRONIN cherished her independence al-though she always enjoyed visits from friends and relatives, Wilds said. She was born and raised in Windsor. After the death 52 years ago of her first husband, Charles Vincent Wilds, she married Harry Cronin. I le has since passed away. Mrs. Cronin, described as alert and capable of moving about, li‘ cd alone in her apartment for about six years. The senior citizens’ complex is managed by the Windsor Housing Authority. Her death was announced Wednesday night at a meeting of apartment tenants. Those who knew her lamented the loss of a friendly neighbor.

“SHE WAS JUST a nice, friendly old lady,” said Mildred McLeod, monitor of the second floor on which Mrs. Cronin lived. “She was a very, very pleasant lady,” said Doris Wilson, 76, also a neighbor. “Everyone liked her. She’d come out into the hall and talk to me. She would tell me how much she liked me.” Mrs. Cronin didn’t speak much about independence but showed it by keeping an immaculate apartment, said Wilson. “In the summer, she was always out on her terrace, which she kept decorated. “I just think its a case of when you get older, a lot of ladies want to be on their own, and live their own life.”

THE FIRE, which began in Mrs. Cronin’s bed and caused about $13,000 damage, was considered accidental. Fire officials are not certain how it started. but Brian Mulligan, an investigator with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office, said one theory is that Mrs. Cronin, was looking under her bed with a candle. The bed clothing caught fire and, although Mrs. Cronin carried it to her bathroom and extinguished the flames, she could not put out her burning bed. She was overcome by smoke.

Her death was the second in the past month which resulted from a highrise fire. On Feb. 1, 62-year-old Doris Dyrda perished in a blaze at 3170 Donnelly St. Mrs. Cronin is survived by her son Vincent Wilds, and two daughters from the first marriage, Mildred Bradd and Pearl Tumble. Funeral arrangements through Janisse Brothers Funeral Home Ltd. were incomplete this morning.

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