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1912 Arts and Crafts home built by John S. Paganetti, founder of Paganetti Lumber.

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From Rumrunning to Financial Coaching

First Financial Coaching Shares the History of 144 South Main Street

From rumrunning to financial coaching? Sounds hard to believe, but the 1912 Arts and Crafts home at 144 South Main Street has had an interesting history. Built by John S. Paganetti, founder of Paganetti Lumber (National Lumber Company), Mount Clemens Bank, and Mount Clemens Pottery Company at a cost of $25,000, the home took two years to build. Mr. Paganetti designed the home and selected the lumber and finishing materials himself, with details such as African mahogany box paneling, full depth coffer box ceilings, and even custom furniture for his den—including a roll top banker’s desk in Birdseye maple.

Throughout the home, Mr. Paganetti chose hand cut leaded glass windows in the “tulip and lily” style, which was popular at the time. Many of the home’s fixtures remain to this day, including pearl push button switches, brass door hardware, and even a central vacuum system! The home stands at nearly 4000 square feet, with imposing doors on the main level standing nearly eight feet high. The fireplace in the living room was built from reclaimed brick from Mr. Paganetti’s hometown in Italy, along with rare red Pewabic tile accents. The original front door weighed over 500 lbs, made of mahogany with 4” thick leaded glass.

Mary Paganetti, John’s second wife, was an avid gardener. The grounds of the house were a veritable botanical garden, containing many varieties of roses and other flowers. Mary even hosted field trips for Mount Clemens High School students in her garden.

Over the years, rumors spread that Mr. Paganetti had been a rumrunner during Prohibition. As the story goes, a tunnel connected 144 South Main to the Clinton River 250 yards away. According to the eldest great nephew of Mr. Paganetti, “Uncle John made his first million in lumber and his second million in liquor.” When asked if the rumors of a tunnel were true, he pointed out the spot where the tunnel entrance had been in the basement, covered with a cinderblock cap! What is truly behind the cinderblock remains a mystery.

Smuggling rum may be in the past, but the house continues today as the home of First Financial Coaching. According to Jeffrey Furest and Michael Sarcheck, President and Vice President of First Financial Coaching, the house maintains its original architecture and look today. In the 1980s, the previous owners refinished much of the original wood, rebuilt the porch, and updated the electric and heating—and improvement projects have continued since. Most recently, the back porch was completely rebuilt, and new windows, carpet, and wallpaper were added in 2022.

At First Financial Coaching, says Michael, “Our clients allow us to work with their behavior and their money.” Jeffrey and Michael focus on educating their clients on how investing works, and are not afraid to say no to investment decisions that are not in a client’s best interest. They describe their approach as applying “academic investing principles” with a goal of helping families find financial peace of mind.

Notes Jeffrey, “The financial industry has done a terrible job of creating a default world of investing that is predicated on forecasts and predictions. We are focused on transforming the investing experience from a short-term transactional mindset to a lifelong pursuit of fulfilling an investor’s purpose in life.” Learn more about First Financial Coaching at

  • 1912 Arts and Crafts home built by John S. Paganetti, founder of Paganetti Lumber.
  • Hand cut leaded glass windows.
  • John S. Paganetti designed the home and selected the material himself.
  • Hand cut leaded glass windows in the "tulip and lily" style.
  • John S. Paganetti designed the home and selected the material himself.

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