South Bend has been home to many prolific families over the years. One that you might not have heard of is the Kizer family.
William Kizer, a local business leader who grew up as part of a pioneer family, lived with his wife Elizabeth Brick at 803 West Washington on the city’s near west side. The construction of their Romanesque home in the mid-1880s preceded Copshaholm — the Oliver family mansion located directly across the street — by nearly a decade.
Kizer founded two South Bend-based businesses with partner Jacob Woolverton: the South Bend Malleable Range Company, which manufactured coal and wood ranges, and Kizer & Woolverton, which specialized in financial instruments and real estate. Kizer also invested in everything from railroads to timber companies and served as an appointee in city government, as well as a director of a local bank.
Beginning at the turn of the century, the Kizer family was beset with a number of tragedies. William and Elizabeth saw two of their three children die. Ward Kizer, their 17 year old son, died of congenital heart failure in 1902. Horace Kizer died of a stroke at age 40.
Willomine Kizer, the only daughter of William and Elizabeth, was a two-time champion of the St. Joseph Valley Women’s Golf League. She was also an active fisherman, hunter and tennis player. She died in 1929, only two years after her mother, leaving behind an estate worth $10 million in today’s value.
The Kizer House was vacant for a few years before becoming a sanitarium and eventually multi-family apartments. The property, which is once again vacant, is up for sale. The 8,200 square foot home has 8 bedrooms and a number of unique features: a stone exterior, original woodwork, 10 fireplaces, and turreted corners that give the mansion a castle-like appearance.
“The Kizer Family [Brochure].” Indiana Landmarks.
“South Bend Range Corporation.” The History Museum. http://centerforhistory.org/learn-history/business-history/south-bend-range-corporation
803 W Washington St. Realtor.com. http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/803-W-Washington-St_South-Bend_IN_46601_M49476-79175
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