540 South Almont Avenue
The James F. Fairweather/Jacob C. Lamb House, built between 1871 and 1874, is a two-story, wood frame, Gothic Revival structure. An L-plan front section with a tower-like projection containing the principal entrance is located in the angle of the L. The front is divided into three bays, which recede from left to right. A front-facing gable displaying ornamental barge boarding caps each. The bay windows date from a later, nineteenth-century modernization of the home but present a pleasing array of fluted pilasters, narrow double-hung sash, and brackets. Changes in the home’s foundation from cut store under the original two-story section to field stone under the first single-story back addition and concrete bed under the garage document the construction of the two additions in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries; the brick foundation under the porch reflects an improvement rather than an addition. The home is also a fine example of Gothic Revival residential architecture and one of only a few Gothic Revival-inspired homes in Imlay City.
The significance of the James F. Fairweather/Jacob C. Lamb House (later the Hovey and then Cheney house) stems from the commercial activities of both its principal owners and the political activity of Jacob Lamb. Fairweather was an early dry goods merchant who helped establish the commercial base of the community during the 1860s and 1870s when the arrival of the railroads, the start of lumbering, the early development of the Thumb area’s road system, and the initiation of regional marketing of local farm products first spurred Imlay City’s growth. With the homes’ purchase by Jacob Lamb in 1879, the house became associated with a man whose involvements in produce and dry goods marketing, grain and wool brokerage, agriculture, banking, and state politics made him the key figure in the community’s period of “boom” growth that lasted into the early twentieth century.