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Corktown renames home tour, adds businesses

Maureen Feighan and Jeanine Matlow
The Detroit News

Heather and Matt McKeon knew one thing for certain when they decided to buy a house that had been abandoned for 30 years in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood: They wanted to live in Detroit.

What they didn’t know, though, is how much work it would require to get their 1897 house back into working order. It was in such poor shape when they bought it that every system needed an overhaul and the foundation was so rough you could see right through it – from the street.

“You could actually see into the basement,” said Heather, an interior designer with Patrick Thompson Design in Detroit.

But the couple, who previously owned a home in Plymouth, wasn’t put off. The bought the house through the Detroit Home Mortgage program last fall and started $150,000 in renovations in November, working with a contractor and a team of subcontractors to renovate their 1,500-square-foot home from top and bottom.

And while it isn’t finished yet, the house will be featured on Sunday’s Corktown Neighborhood Tour, which runs from 12-5.

Renamed the Corktown Neighborhood Tour this year, it’ll reflect all the diversity that Corktown, Detroit’s oldest continuous neighborhood, represents.

“Corktown has always been a blend of residential, retail, and entertainment,” said organizer Blake Almstead. “We wanted to have the event reflect that it’s not your normal home and garden tour.”

Visitors will get a chance to explore a mix of homes, apartments and buildings dating from the 1850s to the early 1900s and well-known landmarks like Holy Trinity Church and the Workers’ Row House. All three floors of the shipping container house on Trumbull also will be open to visitors.

For the McKeons, as hard as it’s been to tackle a project so big, bringing their house back from the brink also has been exciting. Their next big hurdle is getting water turned back on to their house. They are living in a rental house in Corktown during renovations.

“It’s incredibly exciting to hear the neighbors or people walking by say, ‘We wrote this house off a long time ago,’” said McKeon.

Twitter: @mfeighan

Corktown Neighborhood Tour

Tickets for this year’s tour, which will be held rain or shine, are available both online and the day of the tour at the Gaelic League, 2068 Michigan Avenue. The Gaelic League will also have a retail fair that features Detroit businesses. For information and tickets, go to