The Longacre House was originally a small six-room Victorian House built in 1869 by Palmer Sherman. Mr. Sherman had many fruit trees and grew alfalfa seed for the Ferry Seed Company. The Sherman House was the only brick house in the area and was a landmark for those traveling on Farmington Road. The house consisted of a parlor, dining room and kitchen downstairs and three bedrooms upstairs. The front entrance faced Farmington Road. There was a porch across the front, and the house was decorated with 19th century gingerbread.
Barns, a spring house, and a water well were also part of the property. Mr. Sherman, father of nine children, owned 100 acres but gradually sold portions to other farmers. He retired from farming in 1879 and the house and grounds were rented to others for 36 years. In 1915 the house and property were sold to Luman Goodenough, a Detroit lawyer, and until 1918 was used only as a summer home. Then, Mr. Goodenough employed Marcus Burrows to redesign and expand the house into a 20 room Georgian country house, including four porches, seven baths, a greenhouse and a library.
This was one of first houses in the area to have electricity and a telephone. It was necessary for Mr. Goodenough to have erected a long series of utility poles and the necessary electric wire from Grand River Avenue, where there was a generating station, a distance of about two miles. The final remodeling was completed in 1930, when the library was added. With the help of neighboring farmers, the stone wall was erected along Farmington Road to replace the Sherman's white picket fence.
Mr. Goodenough's formal gardens were well known in the area. Pools and fountains in the gardens added to the beauty. Five gardeners were employed to maintain the grounds.
The Goodenoughs raised three children in this house and kept horses, sheep and goats on their 40 acres. Several plots of ground were sold to others, including Mr. Burrows who bought acreage west of The Longacre House and built a home for himself. The architect also designed and built a house for the late Mrs. Eleanor Spicer, Mr. Goodenoughs daughter. This home is also west of The Longacre House.
In 1968, after the death of Mr. And Mrs. Goodenough, the Goodenough family donated the house and five acres of ground to the people of Farmington to be used as a non-profit community center.
Income to support the house is derived from classes, special events, rentals and an annual fund drive. The formal gardens have given way to the parking lot, an outdoor stage has been erected on the site of a pool, and an old barn has been removed
A log cabin, which was a playhouse for the Goodenough children, is still there, as is the old Sherman spring house and water well. The lovely junipers, maples and elms planted by Mr. Goodenough still shade the lawns.
These and the present flower beds are a pleasant reminder of the days long gone when Mr. Goodenough would stroll through his beloved gardens, always looking for new ways to bring beauty to his surroundings.