Hugh T. Keyes is one of Grosse Pointes most prolific designers; during the 1930’s he constructed some of the finest homes in the community. When he completed 635 Lake Shore “Woodley Green” in 1934 for then president of First National Bank of Detroit, Emory W. Clark, he created one of Grosse Pointes most distinctive homes.
For everyone who travels frequently along Lake Shore you will have noticed the superb red brick home with the large flag on the front elevation – Woodley Green.
Woodley Green is considered, by many, as one of Keyes finest homes. This belief recognizes how special this house is; given the number of significant houses Keyes designed in Grosse Pointe and Bloomfield Hills throughout his distinguished career.
Keyes was born in Trenton, Michigan, 1888. He studied architecture at Harvard and worked in the office of Albert Kahn until World War 1. During the war he served in the Navy for two years before returning to Detroit to work for the firm of Van Leyen and Schilling. It is believed Keyes became licensed as an architect in Michigan in 1920, joining the firm of Smith, Hinchman and Grylls before opening his own practice in 1921.
He had a wonderful diverse repertoire ranging from the Tudor revival homes he designed in Grosse Pointe (during the 1920’s), to the French Normandy style home at 78 Lake Shore (built in 1928) through to the ranch home on Fairway Hills Dr., Franklin (in 1961), one of his final commissions before his death in 1963.
Woodley Green – 635 Lake Shore – built for Emory W. Clark in 1934
Hudson House – 114 Lothrop Rd – built for Stewart Hudson in 1937
Trix House – Fisher Road – built for Herbert B. Trix in 1937
Joy House – 60 Renaud Rd – built for Richard P. Joy, Jr. in 1938
635 Lake Shore has all the hallmarks of a classical late eighteenth century Regency style design. It is an elegant home, with fine detailing. The symmetrical red brick front façade features an oversized doorway flanked either side by bow-fronted wings. The large collection of casement windows feature delicate iron window guards, while the balustrades, hipped roof, and short masonry chimneys complete the typical traits found on this style of home.
William Hawkins Ferry describes the home as having “the appearance of some venerable English country seat”.
The 14,964 home has a looping gravel driveway and is set “in the midst of beautifully landscaped grounds on Lake Shore Road”. It is one of the largest homes in Grosse Pointe. It is believed Emory W. Clark and his family resided in the home until 1958. Benson Ford (grandson of Henry Ford) purchased the home and commissioned Keyes to make extensive renovations in 1959, thereby increasing the size of the home to over 18,000 sq ft.
During the latter half of the 1930’s Keyes’s began to work more on projects in Bloomfield Hill’s but continued to return to Grosse Pointe to work on several more commissions during the 1940’s and 50’s.
His Regency style homes in Grosse Pointe are arguably some of the finest ever created, and next time you drive along Lake Shore and pass house number 635, ask yourself is there a more distinctive home?
Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2016 Higbie Maxon Agney
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(For more historical information on Grosse Pointe, visit Grosse Pointe Historical Society).