By Denis LeDuc
This Victorian Italianate style house sits right at the corner of Utica Road and Dodge Park and is one of only a few buildings in the county on the National Registry of Historical Places. Had it not been for the original owners of the house, William and Sarah Upton, Dodge Park may have never come to fruition.
The interior of the house was built with materials imported from England. The exterior of the Upton House was originally the color of natural red brick, but over the years and renovation efforts, the house is now ivory with green trim. The picture above, taken in 1982, shows ladders used by the painters during one of the early restorations of the house. The hipped roof, tall cupola, double-hung, four-pane windows make the Upton House look like a house right out of an Alfred Hitchcock novel.
With every historic building, there is at least one historic family with its own story to tell. The Upton family embodies what Macomb County was built upon, immigrants who worked hard, showed perseverance and demonstrated innovation. The Uptons immigrated to America from Leicestershire, England in 1841. William Upton was only 10-years-old when his parents came to America and eventually settled in Sterling Heights in 1845. His father purchased a very large parcel of land at Schoenherr Road and Clinton River Road. Upon his death, he willed the land to his son, William. William and Sarah married in 1861 and they would have four children. Their son, Charles W. Upton, would later become the founder of C.W. Upton Wood and Coal Company which became Dillman and Upton, which is still in business today.
In 1866, William and Sarah built their home, which was eventually named The Upton House. While raising a family on a farm, William wore many hats. He farmed the land, fished out of the Clinton River and sold his catch to the locals. Eventually he would become a real estate broker, sheep broker, constable, road overseer, and he was involved in the Salvation Army. William and Sarah sold their house and moved to now downtown Utica at the end of the 19th century. Pictured are William and Sarah Upton taken in 1915.
In 1922, then-current owners Fred and Augusta Heldt conveyed part of the farm to the state of Michigan to create Dodge Park. The Upton House and surrounding land would see several owners before the house itself was eventually bought by the City of Sterling Heights in the late 1970s. Presently, the Upton House is used by the Sterling Heights Community Foundation and the Sterling Heights Historical Commission Photo courtesy of Sterling Heights Public Library and Historical Commission.