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.

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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

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Robert O. Derrick Homes on Provencal

Following on from our recent posts about the homes on Provencal – Number 41, Number 234 and the residences designed by Raymond Carey – we continue our review of this prestigious road with the homes designed by local architect Robert O. Derrick.

Courtesy of historicdetroit.org

Born in Buffalo, NY in 1890 Robert Ovens Derrick graduated with an architectural degree from the University of Columbia in 1917. Shortly after he arrived in the Metro Detroit area to begin what was to become a significant career in shaping the architectural scene of Grosse Pointe during the 1920’s.

Having completed his first project in the community, the ‘Little Club’ in 1923, Derrick went on to design over twenty five homes in the Grosse Pointe Communities, along with several community buildings.

Derrick lived and worked in Grosse Pointe, residing with his family at 407 Lincoln. He received many commissions by prominent businessmen in Metro Detroit who were looking to relocate their families out of the city to the increasingly popular distinguished superb of Grosse Pointe.

Arguably Derricks most productive and defining era occurred between 1923 and 1931, during which he worked in an array of architectural styles. The majority of his commissions were large residences, all of which are memorable, and still around today, including the homes he created on Provencal, which include:

  • 23 Provencal – 1924 – 4,829 sq ft
  • 248 Provencal – 1925 – 11,385 sq ft
  • 214 Provencal – 1925 – 11,767 sq ft
  • 204 Provencal – 1927 – 13,084 sq ft

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – 234 Provencal

We recently presented the homes Raymond Carey designed on Provencal, Grosse Pointe Farms. The spectacular residences he created on this prestigious street vary dramatically in size, ranging from the 6,779 sq ft located at 380 Provencal through to one of Grosse Pointes largest homes – 194 Provencal which is 12,185 sq ft in size.

Raymond Carey was no stranger to grand homes. Having grown up and studied architecture in England Carey was surround by the substantial town and country estates that were part of the scenery in his hometown of Bath.

In 1909 Carey left England and arrived in Winnipeg, Canada. Having worked as an architect in both Canada and for a short time in San Francisco Carey moved to Detroit in 1921-22 to open his own practice. According to research from http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/ Carey, in 1924, teamed up with Horace H. Esselstyn, an Engineer in Detroit *. Their firm Carey & Esselstyn was active from 1924 to 1929, and during this period ‘Carey produced some of the most distinctive and sumptuous residential masterpieces of his career’.

Many of the homes Carey designed in Grosse Pointe were created during this period, with the majority in his signature neo-Georgian and Tudor Revival approach.

At its height of popularity in the 1920’s, Tudor Revival residences required skill by the architect to reproduce the typical characteristics in the right proportions to display the charm associated with this style. Given Carey’s skill in this approach, and the homes he was surrounded by growing up as a child, it is not surprising this style was particularly influential in the large English Country inspired residence located at 234 Provencal.

Courtesy of the Grosse Pointe Historical Society

The home, built in 1929, is approximately 8,122 square feet and is situated on a 100’ x 560’ lot. It is constructed from solid stone with a slate roof, and has exquisite detailing across the exterior.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Raymond Carey Homes on Provencal

Born in England in 1883 Raymond Carey was a prominent architect in Grosse Pointe Farms. He designed many luxurious homes during the 1920’s – 1930’s, an era of substantial growth in the community.

Having grown up and studied architecture in Bath, England, Carey had been surrounded by some of the finest Georgian residences in the world. This level of inspiration influenced much of Carey’s work, particularly here in Grosse Pointe.

Raymond Carey arrived in Winnipeg, Canada at the beginning of the 20th Century. By the early 1920’s Carey had relocated to Detroit. He had become a key figure in creating fine Georgian style homes, and his work had become extremely sought after.

Throughout Grosse Pointe the 1920’s were a golden era for Georgian design. Carey created at least 15 homes in the community (that we know of), including several prestigious homes on Provencal, along with the Cottage Hospital Nurse’s House, in 1929, located at 150 Ridge Road.

Carey was particularly adept to designing large homes, which is certainly evident in the homes he created on Provencal, which includes:

  • 338 Provencal – 1928 – 10,304 sq ft
  • 380 Provencal – 1929 – 6,779 sq ft
  • 234 Provencal – 1929 – 8,122 sq ft
  • 390 Provencal – 1931 – 10,000 sq ft
  • 194 Provencal 1931 – 12,185 sq ft

Lets start with the largest of his Provencal projects – number 194.

194 Provencal was built, in 1931, for Earl Holley, former chairman of the Holley Carburetor Company of Detroit. The 12,185 sq ft home has particularly handsome detailing including Corinthian pilasters; a columned entrance flanked by two large curved bow windows. It is a fantastic example of Georgian architecture and at 12,185 sq ft it is one of the largest homes in Grosse Pointe.

194 Provencal – courtesy of Detroityes.com

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Homes with International Style

International Style is an important architectural movement that began to gain popularity during the 1920’s and 1930’s. The term “International Style” first came into play via a 1932 exhibition organized by American architects Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson – ‘Modern Architecture: International Exhibition’, which declared and labeled the architecture of the early 20th century as the “International Style“. Source: Wikipedia

The International Style began to gather pace in the US at the beginning of the 1930’s. Many US cities on the East Coast began to construct skyscrapers – lead by pioneering architects in this moment such as Philip Johnson – whilst ground breaking residential projects were being created by Frank Lloyd Wright and Eliel Saarinen to name but a few.

Based on research from Wikipedia the most common characteristics of International Style buildings are said to be: rectilinear forms; light, open interior spaces, and taut plane surfaces that have been completely stripped of applied ornamentation and decoration.

Here in Grosse Pointe, during the 1930’s, several international style projects had begun to appear in the community including: 766 Westchester, 888 Pemberton (by Alden Dow), and 641 Oxford, 705 Pemberton (by Lyle Zisler).

766 Westchester

888 Pemberton

641 Oxford

705 Pemberton

Louis Rossetti, in conjunction with Raymond Giffels & Victor Vallet, created several international style homes in the community during this era, including – 10 Provencal, 780 Grand Marais, 1119 Harvard, and his own home located at 1145 Balfour (in 1945).

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Moving With The Times – 41 Provencal

In the late nineteenth century an international movement of decorative and fine arts had begun in Britain. Known as the Arts and Crafts movement it stood for traditional craftsmanship using simple forms whilst harnessing natural materials. The Arts and Crafts movement flourished in Europe and North America between 1880 and 1910, heavily influencing art and architecture.

The first Arts and Crafts Society in the United States was established in Boston in 1897. In 1906 a similar society was formed in Detroit, believed to be the second such organization in the United States. At the time many of the leading architects in Detroit were huge advocates of the movement including William Buck Stratton and Albert Kahn who was one of the original-founding members of the society.

Both Stratton and Kahn were huge exponents of the Arts and Crafts movement in the City, regularly employing key components of the style into their residential projects. As part of the dedication to the societies expansion Stratton helped organize the first and second annual exhibitions of arts and crafts – held at the Detroit Museum of Art in 1904 and 1905. By 1916 the organization became the first Arts and Crafts society in the US to construct its own building. Source: www.detroit1701.org

In 1906 Albert Kahn was commissioned by Lewis H. Jones to design a large mansion in Indian Village – located at 8191 East Jefferson Avenue. Lewis H. Jones was president of the Detroit Copper and Brass Rolling Mills Company, along with being an active official in many other large manufacturing projects and organizations throughout the City.

The design of the home Albert Kahn conceived for Lewis Jones was one of grandeur. It encompassed a classic Tudor Revival style along with keeping the spirit of the Arts and Crafts Movement throughout.

The home at its 8191 East Jefferson Avenue location –  Courtesy of detroityes.com

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Top Producers of 2016!

Higbie Maxon Agney congratulates the Top Producers of 2016!

Jaime Rae Turnbull, Libby Follis, Dennis Andrus, Michelle Agosta, Darlene D’Amico and Heather Adragna Ulku!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Architect Charles Noble

It is always fun to profile an architect who not only created large, beautifully detailed structures, but could also turn his hand to designing elegant residences on a vastly smaller scale. For many architects who worked in Detroit during the first 30 years of the twentieth century many of them were capable of adapting to this variation in scale – including Albert Kahn, Louis Kamper and George D. Mason to name but a few.

This week we profile the work of Charles Nobel – born 1890, died in 1955. This versatile architect was very productive in the city of Detroit during the 1920’s, creating several iconic buildings.

Possibly his most famous creation was the Lee Plaza Hotel on West Grand Boulevard. Having received the commission from by Ralph T. Lee – referred to by the Detroit Free Press in 1940 as “Detroit’s most spectacular real estate operator during the 1920s” – he made more than $1 million in 10 years’ (around $15m today): Source historicdetroit.org

Lee Plaza Hotel – Courtesy of detroityes.com

Nobel began working on the Lee Plaza Hotel in 1927. It was a stunning Art Deco inspired 17-story masterpiece. Its steeply sloped roof of red Spanish tile made a dramatic impact on the Detroit skyline. It featured an abundance of beautiful decorative elements inside and out, including Italian marble in the lobby, ornamental ceilings and elaborate plasterwork.

At the time it was one of Detroit’s most elaborate apartment hotels. When the Lee Plaza Hotel opened it contained 220 luxury class apartments ranging from one to four rooms. It cost $2.5 million to build – around $35 million today: Source historicdetroit.org.

In 1931 Charles Nobel created another Iconic Art Deco building – the Kean Apartments. 16 stories high with four apartments per floor, it was one of the last of the large residential apartments built on Jefferson for many years. Nobel’s attention to detail on the buildings exterior was superb, and the intricate details second to none, as displayed by the photo below.

The Kean Apartments – Courtesy of Wikipedia

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Dodge Mansion and The Houses on Harbor Hill

Once upon a time, many years ago there was a very successful auto baron by the name of John Dodge. The Dodge family moved to Detroit in 1886, where the two young brothers John and Horace took jobs at a boiler maker plant.

In 1900 John and Horace set up their own machine shop in Detroit. During their first year in business together the brothers’ were making parts for the automobile industry. Success came very quickly. Having won a contract to build transmissions for the Olds Motor Vehicle company in 1902 they were then contracted to build engines for Henry Ford, a deal that also included a share position in the new Ford Motor Company.

By 1910 they had built a plant in Hamtramck, and John was vice president at Ford. In 1913 John left Ford and joined forces again with his brother to form ‘Dodge Brother’s’, where they developed their own line of automobiles. By October 1917 they had produced their first commercial car.

Having become extremely rich very quickly the Dodge brothers were known to live rather extravagantly. In 1906 John commissioned a large home in Arden Park (off Woodward), which was designed by Smith, Hinchman and Grylls. In 1907, shortly after marrying his third wife Matilda, he purchased 320 wooded acres near Rochester, Michigan – the first of nine farms he would buy in the area.

John Dodge – courtesy of Wikipedia

In 1918, in order to be closer to his brother Horrace, John Francis Dodge purchased a large plot of land on Lake Shore, Grosse Pointe Farms. He once again hired the prestigious firm of Smith, Hinchman and Grylls to design what was intended to be the largest home in the Detroit area – 110 rooms, and 24 baths. According to research from the book Tonnancour he added a three-acre peninsula to the property (jutting out into Lake St Clair), in order to dock his new 104-foot power cruiser.

After attending an auto show with his brother in New York, 1920 John tragically died of pneumonia. Matilda was understandably devastated and apparently could not decide whether she wanted to finish the vast stone house on Lake Shore. In 1925, after remarrying, Matilda and her new husband moved to the Rochester property that John had purchased in 1907. Research from the Grosse Pointe Historical Society states the new Rochester home ‘incorporated many details (windows, stonework etc) from the unfinished home on Lake Shore’. This left the home as an empty shell, with the local children having great fun playing in an around it for many years. It was finally dismantled in 1940.

Dodge Mansion – Courtesy of Tonnancour by Arthur Woodford

Shortly after the demolition, the land was sold and the plot subdivided into what is now known as Harbor Hill. During the early 1950’s this area was developed with around 20 homes.

Harbor Hill – Courtesy of Bing.com

The majority of the homes were built between 1950 – 1954 in a variety of architectural styles that included colonial, early American, English, and ranch. Noted architects including John L. Pottle and Omer C. Bouschor designed several homes.

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