Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Grosse Pointe Projects of Alexander Girard

Last week we covered the exceptional home, 232 Lothrop, created by the extremely talented artist Alexander Girard.

Described as one of the most important, prolific and influential textile designers of the twentieth century, Girard was also extremely skilled as an architect, interior, product, and graphic designer.

Alexander Girard (early 1950’s) – Courtesy of Vitra Design Museum

This week we focus on Girard’s other architectural projects in Grosse Pointe. Aside from designing the modern contemporary home located at 232 Lothrop (1951), Girard also created two further homes on Lothrop – number 222 (1948) and 234 (1949), along with 55 Vendome in 1951. All of his projects were created in his signature contemporary modern style, which was particularly prominent throughout the United States during this era.

Having re located in 1937, with his family, from New York to Detroit, Girard began the next phase of his career. In 1938 Girard designed the Junior League of Detroit’s Little Shop in Grosse Pointe. Shortly after, in partnership with H. Beard Adams, he opened his first store, located at 16906 Kercheval. The firm of Girard and Adam’s specialized in interior architecture, design and decoration.

Courtesy of – Alexander Girard, A Designer’s Universe.

In 1945 Girard utilized the former space he had held with Adams to open his own studio and store, to sell products, and stage small exhibitions of painting, sculpture and jewelry. In 1947 Girard relocated his shop to 379 Fisher Road. The new location provided Girard with a building to not only sell products, but also incorporate an office, and a space to showcase his irrepressible talent – offering, “complete architectural and design services for home, office and industrial fields”. Source: Alexander Girard, A Designer’s Universe.

379 Fisher – Courtesy of Alexander Girard, A Designer’s Universe.

379 Fisher Floor Plan – Courtesy of Alexander Girard, A Designer’s Universe.

Girard worked with many wealthy and celebrity clients in Metro Detroit, decorating and designing the interiors of their homes. This included several projects in Grosse Pointe:

222 Lothrop. Completed in 1948, this was Girard’s own home. It was located on a large lot close to the Pine Woods, a heavily wooded area in Grosse Pointe Farms. Based on research from the Vitra Design Museum we understand Girard created his new residence out of two old houses. Constructed from California redwood, the home featured innovative lighting solutions, plywood furniture designed by Girard as well as first samples of wall displays that would become a constant feature of his interiors. Source: Vitra Design Museum

As the floor plan below demonstrates the first floor was an open configuration, dominated by a large central living area – a typical feature of homes designed using this architectural approach. At some point in the homes history the house was raised – the floor plan and the photo below are from 1969.

The image below presents a superb representation of the interior of this home. Source: Atlas of Interiors

Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – 232 Lothrop – An Exceptional Home

This is the story of an exceptional home in Grosse Pointe Farms. Some of you might remember this work of art, while for others this will be an introduction to a modern contemporary masterpiece.

232 Lothrop was built in 1951, but was razed several years ago. This one of a kind home was commissioned by Dr. George Rieveschl, a research chemist, and was the product of two masters of modern architecture. Alexander Girard designed the original home, while William Kessler extensively remodeled the property in 1959 (at a reported cost of $250,000 – around $2million today).

Situated on a secluded wooded ridge of over one and a half acres the residence was located on the highest point of land in Grosse Pointe Farms on a magnificent pine shaded site. Each room had its own view of the woods and gardens, filled with over 360 trees – the majority were towering pines and hemlocks.

Front of the home

As with many contemporary residences, the design of the home was based on clean lines, and a substantial amount filing every room. In the case of 232 Lothrop, this was achieved via the large 12’ ft high Thermopane window walls, patios, and the five skylights that were located throughout the property.

Rear of the home

Atrium looking west

Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Mrs. Henry Stephens Estate – 241 Lake Shore

Each week we ask for suggestions of homes, buildings and streets you would like us to profile. This week we focus on one of our recent requests – the grand estate of Mrs. Henry Stephens – 241 Lake Shore.

At the beginning of the Twentieth Century Grosse Pointe Farms was in the midst of a substantial transformation from a summer colony to a year-round residential community. The growing desire for many of Detroit’s wealthy residents to move out of the city to the suburbs was well underway. The area evolved quickly, the ribbon farms and summer cottages were replaced with grand estates and formal landscaped gardens – most visibly on Lake Shore.

One of the more notable arrivals was the estate for Mrs. Henry Stephens (wife of lumber baron Henry Stephens Jr. who passed in 1910).

Facing south on Lake St. Clair the former ribbon farm lot was long and narrow, measuring around 215ft by 1100ft. The map below, from 1915, shows the substantiation area this estate covered. Upon its completion the property included a 6,000 sq ft house (built in 1913), a large lawn on the lakeside, formal garden with garden house, tennis court, green house, garage and stables, a large vegetable garden, orchard, gardener’s cottage, and a carriage house.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Multi-talented designer Charles A. Platt created the house. It was a 25-room French Baroque style mansion – a significant, departure from his Italian inspired work at Alger House (now the Grosse Pointe War Memorial) completed in 1910.

Platt was a renowned artist, gardener, landscape designer and architect. With his array of artistic skills Platt was able to employ his talents across all aspects of his work and quickly became known for integrating stunning villas with beautiful gardens. He designed several buildings in the Detroit area, including at least 5 in Grosse Pointe. You can read his full story by clicking here.

The house Platt designed for Mrs. Henry Stephens employed all of his many talents. It was a magnificent brick home with exquisite detailing. Based on research from Tonnancour, we can provide the following description – ‘Keystones and stone panels are located beneath the large windows on the second floor, providing a perfect contrast to the brick, while the French doors are accompanied by graceful iron grille-work railings’. The driveway approach and entrance court were purposely positioned at the end of the house, so that the front of the home had an uninterrupted view of the lake. The rear of the house overlooked the formal gardens.

Courtesy of ‘Architecture in Michigan’ By Wayne Andrews

Courtesy of Architectural Record, Volume 47

Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to 225 Touraine, a Cottage or a Castle?

Welcome to 225 Touraine – a charming gem, nestled in the midst of Grosse Pointe Farms. From the outside it has all the characteristics of an utterly charming little cottage, but on closer inspection this home expands to a large 4,214 sq ft residence, which begs the question…it is a cottage or a castle?

There are a limited number of homes in the Grosse Pointe communities that provide an illusion of size on this scale. Most homes over 4,000 sq ft present us with an instant impression of a large grand home. However, 225 Touraine doesn’t fit the mould – the quaint little country cottage exterior it is quite delightful, whilst the splendid interior is equally appealing.

Oscar C. Gottesleben & Walter A. Bernardi originally built the house for Industrialist D. H. Locke in 1927. We understand the home has remained in the family through four generations.

When we drove past 225 Touraine we were instantly captivated by its beauty and understated presence. The front elevation gives little away. The large-scale chimney with its intricate brickwork might be a dominating presence, but once you enter the limestone-framed front door, with its intricate woodcarving, there is so much more to explore.

The great room features a stunning slate floor, oak paneling, a large stone framed natural fireplace along with the main focal point of the room – a superb 96 pain window. Many of the doorways are set within large archways, which makes for a dramatic view down the long hallways that form many focal points to this home.

Courtesy of realcomp.com

Courtesy of realcomp.com

Courtesy of realcomp.com

Courtesy of realcomp.com

The modern kitchen still showcases the original working Chrysler/Koppin refrigerator – a multi paneled appliance, which was a popular addition to houses of this era.

Courtesy of realcomp.com

The impressive garden is extremely pretty. According to research by the Grosse Pointe Historical Society all four generations have contributed to its design and development. The landscaping includes a rock garden, a massive white oak, English style borders and a plunge pool. The home was included in a ‘Points of Interest’ tour in 2012.

Courtesy of realcomp.com

Courtesy of realcomp.com

Read more

Open Houses for this weekend – Sunday, August 13, 2017 11:00 am -2:00 p.m.:

HMA has an open house this weekend – Sunday, August 13, 2017

Kurt Drettman will be holding open 32039 Riverdale, Harrison Township

Huron Pointe Sub. House sits on LARGE DOUBLE LOT!! 100×150 ft. Boat hoist (Holly hoist /rated 20,000+ lbs.) Room for a pool/ BIG side yard. Open canal w/ beautiful bay views across street. Open kitchen concept. Wood floors and exotic wood cabinetry, 3 bedrooms with office. Plumbing in office suite to allow for additional 1/2 bath. Master bedroom has balcony, some built in furnishings, tray ceilings. Upstairs has open rec. room with more great water views. Stunning stamped concrete water side patio w/ walkway along break wall. Great waterside Cabana/rec. room. 75 gal.hot water. Marvin windows. New roof (late 2015) Painted/stained 2016.New furnace 2017. One of a kind, custom, quality materials.  This 2,917 sq. ft. home is listed for $624,900.

 

 

For more detail please visit: http://ow.ly/en0N30elA55

We look forward to seeing you!

For a full list of this weekend’s Open House’s visit: http://ow.ly/OfcZr

 

 

 

 

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – 18 Holes of History – the Golf Course at the Country Club of Detroit

One of the most popular venues in the Grosse Pointe communities is arguably the golf course at the Country Club of Detroit. Set on 212 acres the club is steeped in history, as are the lush greens and fairways of this prominent course.

Over the years it has been home to a number of prestigious national amateur championships, including the U.S Amateur championship, last played at the course in 1954, won by Arnold Palmer.

The original course first opened in 1927, having been designed by British golf architects Harry Colt and Charles Hugh Alison. Together, during the 1920’s, they designed a number of famous courses throughout the United States. One of their most respected designs is the Milwaukee Country Club in 1929, a course ranked by Golf Digest, in 2007, as one of the Top 50 golf courses in America. They were also responsible for the design of the course located at the Century Club (1927) in Purchase, New York, the course at Plum Hollow Country Club in Southfield, Michigan (1921), and, in conjunction with George Crump, the prestigious Pine Valley Golf Club, (1918), which was ranked the #1 Golf Course in the United States in April 2017. Source: Wikipedia.

Harry Colt was born in 1869. According to research on Wikipedia, during his career he designed over 300 courses (115 on his own) in North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa.

Harry Colt – Courtesy of bathgolfclub.org.uk

Based on research from bathgolfclub.org.uk – at the beginning of the 20th century golf courses had traditionally featured straight lines and sharp angles. Colt softened these lines, introduced curves and created visual challenges to tease and intrigue the golfer. You can read the full story of Harry Colt by clicking here.

Charles Hugh Alison was born in 1883. A renowned British golf course architect, Alison spent a large part of his career working with Harry Colt. Prior to World War 1 Alison had created a couple of courses in the US, but was required to return to England to serve in the army. After the war had ended he left England and returned to America where he would become a respected course designer. During his nine years in the US he designed more than 20 new courses, and redesigning several others, before heading to Japan (in 1930) to continue his work, where he became extremely influential in course design. You can read the full story of Charles Hugh Allison by clicking here.

Read more

Open Houses for this weekend – Sunday, July 9, 2017 1-3 p.m.:

HMA has an open house this weekend —  Sunday, July 9, 2017 1-3 p.m.:

Melissa Singh will be holding open 19735 Woodmont, Harper Woods

Hardwood Floors! Fireplace in living room! Neutral decor! Florida room overlooks deep lot!  This 1,146 sq. ft. home is listed for $99,000.

 

 

For more detail please visit: http://ow.ly/pxC530dhYTC

 

We look forward to seeing you!

For a full list of this weekend’s Open House’s visit: http://ow.ly/OfcZr

 

 

 

 

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Provencal, The Modern Marvels

This week we conclude our exploration of the homes on Provencal. Over the series we have learned just what a unique, private and special street this is, and still there is so much more to learn.

The homes on Provencal evoke a classic feel – grand designs created in classic architectural styles by some of Detroit’s leading architects. The majority of the homes we have featured thus far were completed prior to 1941 – completed during the golden years of the architectural transformation that Grosse Pointe Farms witnessed during the 1920’s.

However, post 1950 the development of Provencal has not stood still. Several of the grand homes that had been built in the 1920’s were demolished to make way for newer homes, while leading architects and contractors quickly snapped up the available lots to build modern homes for their clientele.

We use the word ‘modern’ in a loose sense. Just because a home was designed in 1950, does it need to resemble a typical home found in that era?

Where Provencal is concerned many of the latter homes, which were added to the community were designed with a sense of tradition. The respective architects have done themselves, their clients and their designs justice in terms of accommodating their new builds with the established style(s) of the existing homes.

It is the ‘modern’ homes that we turn our attention to. Lets start with a project by Milton L. Grigg, the man who brought a little bit of Thomas Jefferson to Grosse Pointe in the shape of 320 Provencal – built in 1956.

320 Provencal – Courtesy of Grosse Pointe Historical Society

Custom designed and built by Grigg, best known for his work in the field of historic preservation, it is an authentic reproduction of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the primary plantation near Charlottesville Virginia built in 1772. Based on research found at the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, the two-story house is 4,513 sq ft, with 4 bedrooms, a maid’s room and a bathhouse. The entrance to the home boasts a magnificent portico with four columns, believed to be a two thirds sized copy of the north portico found at Monticello. It is reported the front doors are mahogany, containing 480 pieces. You can read the full story of this home by clicking here.

Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Provencal, The Private Street

Provencal Road in Grosse Pointe Farms is in every sense of the word ‘private’. A private street, with private homes, and with so little information available the history of many of the houses remains private.

Over the past few weeks we have gathered as much information as we could possibly find on this unique street. We know one home was moved from Indian Village to its current location on the first block of Provencal, and then there is the large Tudor residence reminiscent of an English Country Estate. We have found five homes created by English architect Raymond Carey, the four homes created by prominent local architect Robert O. Derrick, along with the three houses by distinguished designer Hugh T. Keyes.

This week we explore six homes on this private street that were designed by a selection of prominent architects’ between 1926 and 1941. The majority of the residences were created by noted Detroit based artists, while one home was the work of a nationally recognized designer John Russell Pope – one of only two of his projects found in the community.

Lets start with 44 Provencal. Commissioned by William C. Rooney in 1926, the 3,636 sq ft traditional Colonial brick house was created by J. Ivan Dise and Clair William Ditchy – one of three collaborative projects in Grosse Pointe by the Detroit based architects.

44 Provencal

Built in 1927 330 Provencal was designed by Henry F. Stanton – a diverse designer, faculty member of University of Michigan and master of exquisite brickwork.

330 Provencal

The large 8,625 sq ft brick property displays many of the typical characteristics often found in Stanton’s work – detailed brickwork, massive brick chimneys, an elaborate front entrance – in this instance carved limestone scrolls – along with a steep slate roof. (You can view more of his Grosse Pointe projects by clicking here).

Limestone scrolls – Courtesy of realtor.com

The interior features extensive woodwork, including a wood paneled library, heavy beams and paneling above the fireplace in the living room, along with a superb main staircase and large main hall framed with wide, carved oak trim and arches.

Extensive Woodwork – Courtesy of realtor.com

The home also features an abundance of decorative plaster trim, six fireplaces (four on the first floor, and two on the second), along with a 1,300 sq ft carriage house over the three-car garage.

Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Hugh T. Keyes Homes on Provencal

Regular readers of our blog will know that we have recently been focusing our attention on the superb homes on Provencal. So far we have profiled – Number 41, Number 234 the residences designed by Raymond Carey and the homes created by Robert O. Derrick.

This week we continue with our exploration with a review of the work by another prolific Grosse Pointe architect – Hugh T. Keyes.

Hugh T. Keyes – Courtesy of Wikepedia

A noted early 20th century architect, Keyes was a prolific designer of fine homes in the Grosse Pointes and was arguably one of the most diverse architects to ply his trade in the community.

His work centered on creating grand estates for the industrialists of Metropolitan Detroit (clients included Ford, Hudson-Tannahill, Bugas and Mennen) and he is considered to be one of the most versatile architects of the period.

Born in Trenton, MI in 1888, Keyes studied architecture at Harvard University and worked under architect C. Howard Crane. After graduating he quickly became an associate of Albert Kahn working on Kahn’s “signature project” the Detroit Athletic Club.

He was also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and served in the Navy during World War 1. He then spent time in Europe, traveling in England, France, Italy and Switzerland gathering inspiration for his work.

After serving with the Navy during World War 1, Keyes returned to Michigan. He briefly worked at Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, before opening his own Detroit office in 1921. His style was wonderfully diverse and ranged from Tudor Revival (highly popular in the early 20th Century metropolitan area) to rustic Swiss chalets.

Throughout out his career Keyes built many significant houses in Grosse Pointe with the majority located in the Farms, including three homes on Provencal:

  • 34 Provencal – 1912 – 8,162 sq ft
  • 260 Provencal – 1927
  • 344 Provencal – 1929 – 8,496 sq ft

Read more