Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Architect – J. Ivan Dise

During the era of substantial growth in Grosse Pointe many of the residences that were constructed were designed by the leading architects of the time, including Albert Kahn, Robert O’Derrick, William B. Stratton, and Marcus Burrowes. Several of these designers remain household names within Metro Detroit.

However, what about the architects who were prominent at the time, but are now the architects that time forgot? We are talking about skilled designers such as Leonard Willeke, Hugh T. Keyes, George Mason, Charles Kotting, and J. Ivan Dise (to name but a few). We drive past their creations everyday and their work continues to set the architectural theme for the community we live in.

Ivan Dise created a large number of homes (17 that we know of) in Grosse Pointe and a very recognizable public building in the Farms. However, is J. Ivan Dise a name that we instantly associate as a prominent architect in the community?

Ivan Dise Dise was born in Pennsylvania in 1887. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1909 he began his career in New York with the prestigious firm of Cass Gilbert. During his time there he had a hand in several commissions the company had secured from the City of Detroit, including the Detroit Public Library and the Scott Memorial Fountain on Belle Isle.

Dise moved from New York to Detroit in 1919 to join the architectural firm of Albert Kahn, where he would work until 1922. After working with Kahn for 3 years he set up his own firm, and worked on many civil and residential projects within Metro Detroit including: the Methodist Children’s village, the Boulevard Temple Building, many Detroit Public Schools and several homes, along with a key public building within the City of Grosse Pointe Farms.


Methodist Childrens village  Boulevard Temple Buidling


The majority of his work in Grosse Pointe occurred during the 1920’s and 30’s including three collaborative projects with fellow Detroit architect Clair William Ditchy. His houses are some of the most attractive in the area.

Residential projects:

849 Balfour, Grosse Pointe Park

849 Balfour built in 1923 Grosse Pointe Park

1003 Buckingham, Grosse Pointe Park – J Ivan Dise and Clair William Ditchy

Dise_Ditchy_1003 Buckingham_1924

986 Lochmoor, Grosse Pointe Woods – J Ivan Dise and Clair William Ditchy

1346 Kensington, Grosse Pointe Park

1346 Kensington built in 1926 Grosse Pointe Park, MI.

130 Kenwood, Grosse Pointe Farms (the Luther David Thomas (Gladys Riggs) House – an English Tudor style home, built in 1926. The 7,256 sq ft homes has 7 bedrooms and 5.2 baths. It sold for 1.85m in 2003 and is one of the larger Dise homes in Grosse Pointe.

130 Kenwood

391 Country Club Lane, Grosse Pointe Farms

391 Country Club

745 Balfour, Grosse Pointe Park – J Ivan Dise and Clair William Ditchy

745 Balfour

53 Cloverly Road, Grosse Pointe Farms

53 CLoverly


68 Cloverly Road, Grosse Pointe Farms

63 Cloverly

26 Kenwood Road, Grosse Pointe Farms

1020 Bishop, Grosse Pointe Park

1020 Bishop built in 1929 Grosse Pointe Park

Walter Drake Residence and Garage, Windmill Pointe, Grosse Pointe Park,

823 Westchester, Grosse Pointe Park

823 Westchester built in 1936 Grosse Pointe Park

402, 408 and 414 Notre Dame, City of Grosse Pointe

164 Lothrop, Grosse Pointe Farms

164 Lothrop built in 1949,GPF


Public buildings:

In addition to his residential work Dise was commissioned by the City of Grosse Pointe Farms in 1929 to design the cities sewage pumping station (located at Chalfonte Avenue and Kerby Road). It is suggested the architectural style of the building is Arts and Crafts influenced interpretation of Tudor and Gothic. The handsome one-story building is constructed of brick and limestone with a cross gable slate roof and large windows in cross formations (on the Kerby and Chalfonte side). Much of the buildings exterior trim features an extensive use of limestone as decorative elements, including the striping, window surrounds and mullions.

Pumping Station_1

Pumping Station_2

Pumping Station_3


The interior of the building, on the southern half, has a terrazzo floor, yellow tile and buff brick walls. The majority of the equipment used today was installed when the building was built, including the induction and pump motor, the boiler and the 10-ton-capacity Armington Crane.

The pumping station is listed as a Michigan Historic Site and (at the time of the build) had historical significance in the development of the Public Works of Grosse Pointe Farms from a village to a city.*

Pumping Station_4

Joseph Ivan Dise died in Detroit in 1969. With over eighteen homes in and around the Grosse Pointes, Mr. Dise was a prolific contributor of homes in the community. While he may not be a household name in the 21st century, he was a prominent designer that has left us with some superb lasting legacies.

We will be continuing the series with a look at one of J. Ivan Dise’s and Clair William Ditchy’s collaborative projects – 745 Balfour – next week.


Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2015 Higbie Maxon Agney


* The plot for the plant was purchased in 1920. The property known as lots 1-4 between Chalfonte and Mack on Kerby Road was purchased from Eugene Beaupre.


If you have a home or building you would like us to profile please contact Darby Moran – Darby@higbiemaxon.com – we will try and feature the property.

(For more historical information on Grosse Pointe, visit Grosse Pointe Historical Society).