Warren A. Cartier, an 1887 Notre Dame civil engineering graduate, was generous to his alma mater, donating land and lumber to establish an enclosed athletic field that for decades was home to ND’s football, baseball, and track and field teams. But it is in the neoclassical Ludington, Michigan, mansion he designed and shared with his wife, Kate Dempsey Cartier, and their three sons that Warren’s aesthetic and inventive character can be seen.
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Each room in the three-story Ludington Avenue house, built in 1905, contained a thermostat to individually control the temperature of the steam heating system. “It was a rather sophisticated system for its day,” says Gary Schnitker. He and his wife, Sue Ann, bought the mansion a century after it was built and run it as a bed and breakfast. Warren, says Schnitker, visited the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and returned with ideas on how to make a home both comfortable and stylish.
A button on the floor of the dining room, where the Cartiers hosted many dinner parties, meant Kate could easily summon that event’s hired help — the family, notes Schnitker, had only one live-in domestic staff member — when the next course was due. And a warming oven was concealed in a radiator near the buffet, so breads and such could be served piping hot. A few other rooms in the house also contained call buttons, and a special device in the kitchen denoted which room the call was coming from. The house’s chandeliers could be lit by both gas and electricity.
Instead of a ballroom on the third floor, Warren had a gym, complete with a multi-jet-needle shower, and a photography darkroom. For relaxation, a billiards table was available in the basement.
Warren followed his father, Antoine, into the lumber business, and his appreciation of timber products shows in the mansion, where each room features different wood flooring, including black walnut, sycamore, cherry, red oak and mahogany. The house’s five fireplaces are each surrounded by different tile work, much of it, says Gary Schnitker, imported from Italy.
It took 18 months to build the house, which today still contains some original furniture and Cartier belongings, tracked down by the Schnitkers and purchased from Warren and Kate Cartier’s descendants.
For more information on the Cartier Mansion Bed & Breakfast at 409 E. Ludington Ave. in Ludington, Michigan, see, Cartier Mansion
Carol Schaal is managing editor of this magazine.