We know almost nothing about the early life of Ludwig Volusin Bude except that he was born in Halle, Germany, on August 12, 1827. He had married there and his wife had died. Somewhere, he obtained an excellent education in architecture.
Several of the buildings he was responsible for in Saginaw show a familiarity with the architecture of Venice and the Adriatic area. He himself never spoke of his family or his life in Europe, almost as if his life had begun when he reached East Saginaw in the 1850s.
Eventually, he made his home and office at the corner of Baum and Emerson. The building was raised on pilings because it was on the edge of a bayou that flooded, especially in the spring. That may be why, as sewer commissioner, Bude led the efforts to fill in the bayou, eliminating not only flooding but the source of the mosquito-borne malaria. He also served as a city school inspector.
He was an accomplished engineer, a wood carver and cabinet maker as well as one of the area’s first architects.
Most of the business buildings and homes he designed have ceased to exist, like the handsome Schirmer’s Drug Store at the pie-shaped corner of Sheridan and Hoyt. Among those that have survived are the Mason Building at the southeast corner at Washington and Genesee, the Henne Building on Lapeer and the Passolt house on S. Jefferson which was an early home of the Historical Society of Saginaw County.
The Goppelt House at 411 Hayden is the most completely documented example of his work with drawings and specifications at Hoyt Library. Says Tom Trombley, of the Castle Building’s collection, “These ink and watercolor renderings are as elegant as the building that was constructed from them. They testify to his skills as a designer and draftsman…he set a very high standard. Through the buildings he designed and the students he trained, his influence on the course of Saginaw’s built environment far exceeds the number of buildings that survive.”
Bude was a pioneer member of the Germania Society and taught in the Germania school. An article in the Saginaw News noted that he was a great teacher “…a strict disciplinarian of the old school but a perfectionist who imbued in his students a zeal for accuracy.”
He taught mechanical drawing and mathematics at the school for several years but he mostly taught architecture in his own studio. Gustave Endert studied under Bude for about a year. He remembered that Bude insisted that his students be as neat and precise as he was. They worked with pencils so fine that a magnifying glass was often needed to view the plans.
Another student, Adam Martin, recalled that Bude was patient and never scolded his students. Arthur Heun was only eight years old when Bude noticed his talent and began instructing him. Heun became a famous Chicago architect; among his buildings is the J. Ogden Armour home in Oak Forest, Illinois.
Bude’s studio featured several of his hand-carved models of buildings and bridges, modelled in wood with great care and attention to detail.
The love of Bude’s life was his second wife, Lisette. Born in Germany, she had already been married twice before she and Bude met. It was rumored that her first husband had been robbed and murdered. His brother came here to investigate and became her second husband. He, too, was murdered, this time Indians were blamed.
Much later, on a chilly night, Lisette was looking for a cow that had wandered off into the woods along Sheridan Road. She glimpsed the glow from a small campfire and she found a strange man, wrapped in a blanket and racked with fever. Lisette took him to her farm house and nursed him back to health. They fell in love and enjoyed a very happy marriage for many years.
Bude’s students remembered “Aunt Lisette” bringing them little glasses of cordial and her homemade spice cookies. Lisette died on September 3, 1910. Ludwig could not go on without her. He stopped eating and died eight days later. Their grave markers in Brady Hill Cemetery are made by the Northwestern Terracotta Works, founded by Fritz Wagner, one of Bude’s students.
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