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The First Course of Mrs. George H. Boyd’s Luncheon and Mrs. Boyd’s Home

“The Council will be asked to approve the purchase, from the executors of the Letitia M. Boyd estate the property at 1617 South Washington for the price of $50,000 spread over two years. The purchase is in line with Council policy to purchase property in the Grove area for public use and, eventually, convert Lake Linton into raw a water storage reservoir.”

-The Saginaw News, June 24, 1962, p. 29.

Goodridge Brothers photograph of Morley/Boyd home, c. 1880. Collection of Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University.

For almost a century, 1617 S. Washington was the site of the George W. Morley family home.

George W. Morley, Mrs. Boyd’s father, arrived in East Saginaw in 1863. City directories indicate that by 1876, the Morley family was living at the address. When Letitia M. Morley married George Boyd in 1896, the Saginaw Evening News reported:

“Mr. and Mrs. Boyd will leave for the east and will be absent from the city several weeks. They will be at home after November. 8, at 1617 South Washington avenue – the home of the bride’s parents.”

While the exact year 1617 South Washington was constructed is unknown, the Grove, the neighborhood on North Washington Avenue where the home was located, was platted in 1867. While located some distance from the business districts of East Saginaw and Saginaw City, lots sold quickly, and on June 17, 1867, The Enterprise noted:

“As might be imagined, the architects have been engaged of late upon the designs for many of the houses [in the Grove]. The plans show most beautiful buildings, quite equal in every respect to any to be found, vastly in advance of the general character of, dwelling houses in this vicinity. Two years will undoubtedly give the city an avenue whose elegant residence[s] and handsome grounds may be shown to strangers with pride.”

The focus of the article from which this quote was taken was the Timothy and Gurdon Corning home, 1446 South Washington Avenue. The architect of the Corning Home was J. B. Dibble. The article indicated he would design homes for “others who are to build in the neighborhood.” While there is no documentation confirming the designer of the Morley-Boyd house, similar details on the two Second Empire buildings suggest that Dibble may have been the architect of 1617 South Washington.

Sometime before 1889, George W. Morley had his home altered – a remodeling that would transform the family’s home. A dormered mansard roof was replaced with a steep new roofline. With a stylish new silhouette – and more space on the third floor – the home was completed with a stylish porch, bay windows, and other details. (In densely constructed late nineteenth-century Saginaw, the addition of a third floor was not at all unusual. There are several documented examples.)

The exact date of this alteration cannot be confirmed, however, the Board of Public Works records that in July 1887 George W. Morley made general alterations to his home at 1617 South Washington Avenue. The cost of the work was listed at $4,500 – the amount seems plausible. In that same year, a 3,500 square foot home on South Jefferson Avenue cost about $10,000 to construct.

There is much more about 1617 South Washington Avenue to learn. However, the fact the Morley-Boyd family lived in the home for over eight decades testifies that they were satisfied with their home.

The recipe – Mrs. George H. Boyd’s Mixed Fruit in Grapefruit Basket

Note: This is the first course of an elaborate luncheon menu conceived by Mrs. George H. Boyd that was featured in Twelve Menus: A Cook Book that was published by The Young Woman’s Auxiliary to The Woman’s Hospital Association in 1900. This link will take you to more information about the book and the creator of this recipe:

The recipe as it appears in Twelve Menus:

Cut grapefruit in half; remove and save pulp and juice, discarding the fibrous part. With a pinking iron* and a sharp knife decorate the shells to suit the fancy, using ribbon if desired. Let chill on ice and at serving time fill with the juice and pulp of the fruit, white grapes skinned and seeded and thin slices of bananas, all chilled and mixed with powdered sugar and flavored with Maraschino.

Our Interpretation:

For two servings:

1 Grapefruit

½ Cup of peeled and seeded white grapes (or peeled seedless white grapes)

1 Banana, sliced thinly

1+ Tablespoon powdered sugar

1+ Tablespoon Maraschino Liqueur

Note: Quantities are approximate and will need to be adjusted in accordance with the size of the grapefruit and personal taste.

Cut grapefruit in half. Remove flesh discarding membrane and seeds. Take care not to damage the shell. Decorate to fit your mood and décor. If needed, cut a slice off the base to assure the shell is level.

Preparing Grapes:

Skin grapes – yes, grapes can be skinned. There are two methods:

Method A: Use a sharp knife to lift a corner of the skin and peel the grape.

Method B: Place grapes into boiling water for about 10 seconds. Remove and immediately plunge the grapes into ice water. It will loosen their skin; however, you will still need to revert to method A.

Although we were using seedless grapes and did not need to cut the fruit to remove the seeds, we felt accuracy demanded half grapes – and it made peeling a little easier.

Peeled grapes are luxurious, wonderful, and addicting. They are exhausting to prepare.

Preparing Grapefruit:

We used a ruby grapefruit – it was all that was available in the store. However, a white grapefruit would give the salad a more uniform look. Also, it was difficult to remove all traces of pink flesh from the interior of the “basket."

Although one could use grapefruit sections, we followed the directions and removed anything that was fibrous.

Combine grapefruit flesh, grapefruit juice, grape and banana slices. Refrigerate salad and shells separately. Immediately before serving, add powdered sugar and Maraschino. Fill baskets with fruit mixture and plate. (We did not test the length of time that the bananas will keep in the refrigerator.

We used Luxardo Maraschino and the combination of flavors was really quite wonderful.

*Note: Pinking irons are normally associated with textile work and come in several forms. The test kitchen research staff is a little uncertain about exactly what tool was suggested and how it was to be employed. After way too much thought, we freelanced with a sharp knife and zester. We hope Mrs. Boyd would not find our interpretation unsatisfactory.


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