Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Art Moderne Homes of Lyle Zisler

If you drive around Grosse Pointe you will come across numerous homes that are a vastly different design from those that surround them. We are talking about modern homes, created by one of a kind designer’s who have the skill to introduce something a little bit different to Grosse Pointe.

Many of these designer’s are not household names but are accomplished architects who brought something unique to Grosse Pointe. We have covered the work of several designer’s who warrant a mention within this category, including:

Lyle Zisler-professional photo

Lyle Zisler – courtesy of detroityes.com

We now turn our attention to a young architect by the name of Lyle F. Zisler. There is very little known about Zisler, but we can share what we have found out. He was born in 1910, and died in 1958. He was the architectural editor in 1929 for Michigan Technic (a publication produced by the University of Michigan) writing several papers for the publication. Based in Detroit, he was self-employed and became a member of the American Institute of Architects in 1938.

Having introduced you to Zisler, now lets introduce you to his most prominent home in Grosse Pointe, an Art Moderne residence once described by the Detroit News as ‘the most modern house of its day’. ‘One of the few restored homes from the Art Deco period in our area’.


The house is located at 641 South Oxford, Grosse Pointe Woods. It was built in 1937, and was created by Zisler for his own family. The two-story home is 2,099 sq ft, constructed of light-colored sandstone and glass blocks. The design was extremely innovative for its time, featuring a two-story glass block window on the front elevation and floor to ceiling windows at the back of the house.

The wonderful photo’s (below) of the home come from the book Art Deco in Detroit – books.google.com, and (www.daads.org). Research on the website(www.daads.org) provides a glimpse into the interior of the home including this magnificent stainless steel curved staircase. The research states the home, when built, featured a wonderful collection of Art Moderne furniture, and this remained the case when the home was sold by the Zisler family (in 1994) to its current owners who have maintained its Art Moderne qualities inside and out. This home was also featured in the book ‘Art Deco in Detroit’ by Rebecca Binno Savage, Greg Kowalski, and is a wonderful example of an Art Moderne Home.


641 South Oxford – courtesy of Art Deco in Detroit – books.google.com and daads.org


641 South Oxford – courtesy of Art Deco in Detroit – books.google.com and daads.org

Zisler, also in 1937, completed another superb Art Moderne residence in Grosse Pointe. Located at 705 Pemberton, Grosse Pointe Park the house is two-story, constructed of brick with a painted masonry exterior. It also features the large glass blocks, as featured on the house on South Oxford, and at 2,090 sq ft it is almost identical in its size.



705 Pemberton is also featured in the book ‘Art Deco in Detroit’. The authors describe the style of the house as Art Deco, but ‘the home could also be referred to as Nautical Deco in style’. The book continues with its description of the home, ‘because of the popularity of cruise ships, this home’s designer has incorporated a ship’s balcony railing and porthole windows’.


705 Pemberton – courtesy of Art Deco in Detroit – books.google.com


705 Pemberton – courtesy of Art Deco in Detroit – books.google.com

These superb photo’s from www.detroityes.com offer us a glimpse into the construction of the home and an interior photo.

705 Pemberton Rd_1937_3

705 Pemberton – courtesy of detroityes.com

705 Pemberton Rd_1937_4

705 Pemberton – courtesy of detroityes.com

Art Moderne homes came to prominence around 1932, beginning a five-year period of design that was unique to America. Influenced by Art Deco, an international style movement that took the world by storm at the end of the 1920’s, Art Moderne was inspired by the desire to streamline the design of everyday objects, a concept conceived by industrial designers. Architects began to employ these traits in their designs utilizing long horizontal lines, and curving forms. Common characteristics are rounded corners, flat roofs, smooth exterior light-colored walls, porthole windows and curved glass brick walls wrapping around corners, as were the occasional inclusion of nautical elements.

In his work Zisler employed many of the facets associated with Art Moderne, which is evident on his designs at South Oxford and Pemberton. However he did create several additional homes away from this style, including:

  • 1025 Audubon, Grosse Pointe Park – 1939
  • 833 Park Lane, Grosse Pointe Park – 1939
  • 311 Grosse Pointe Boulevard – 1940

Lyle F. Zisler was a talented individual and his Art Moderne homes of Grosse Pointe are a credit to this architectural community.


Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2016 Higbie Maxon Agney


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).