Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Revealed – 43 McKinley

Arguably one of the most recognizable homes in Grosse Pointe Farms is 43 McKinley Place. For many years the house, situated on the corner of Grosse Pointe Blvd and McKinley Place, has only been visible through the ivy that covered the front and side elevations.


For those of you who regularly pass this residence you may have noticed the ivy has now gone and the home has been revealed – it is time to share the tale of this most recognizable property.


43 McKinley was designed by Alphus Chittenden and Charles Kotting for Dr. Ernest T. Tappey in 1905.

The Detroit based firm of Chittenden and Kotting was founded in1903. During their 13 years together Chittenden and Kotting created several ‘landmark’ buildings in Detroit including the Detroit Boat Club’s building on Belle Isle, and the office building of the Detroit Stove Works plant. They worked predominantly in Detroit’s elite neighborhoods’ such as Indian Village and Grosse Pointe, creating many splendid homes.

The house Chittenden and Kotting created for Dr. Tappey, a resident of Detroit for over 50 years, is a classic English style residence constructed from brick, featuring a heavy slate roof with copper gutters and downspouts, Built in 1905, the 8,500 sq ft residence was possibly one of the larger homes constructed in the Farms during this era.


Courtesy of the Grosse Pointe Historical Society


Courtesy of the Grosse Pointe Historical Society

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Talmadge C. Hughes and his homes on Meadow Lane

Those of you who are familiar with Grosse Pointe Farms know that throughout the community there are many dead end streets. We recently covered one such street – 30 Preston Place, the elegant former residence of Louise Webber and Edward P. Frohlich.

We would now like to turn our attention to another dead end street, Meadow Lane, and the 4 homes that were created by architect Talmadge C. Hughes on this road.


Image courtesy of: historicdetroit.org

Mr. Hughes was born in Alabama in 1887. Having completed his studies and travelling extensively he arrived in Detroit (the year of his arrival is not known) and worked for several prestigious firms in the city, including Smith, Hinchman and Grylls and Albert Kahn Associates.

It appears he had a varied career, from research in the book ‘A History of Detroit’s Palmer Park’ by Gregory C. Piazza, we understand Hughes designed several theatres in Metro Detroit, including the Emsee Theatre, Mount Clemens, while two of his designs won the Best of Year Awards – the Ryan Theatre (1949) in Warren, and the Rapids Theater (1950), in Eaton rapids Michigan.

In 1937 Hughes designed 999 Whitmore, a stunning Art Deco building which he considered to be his masterpiece. It is believed to have been one of the first cast-concrete residential structures in Detroit.


999 Whitmore – Courtesy of ‘A History of Detroit’s Palmer Park’ by Gregory C. Piazza

We also understand from Piazza’s research, when Hughes wasn’t designing, he spent a substantial part of his career serving (for many years) as secretary for the American Institute of Architects. Hughes, along with many other noted Detroit architects, was also a member of the Michigan Society of Architects and he was part of a committee tasked in creating the first edition of the Michigan Society of Architects’ handbook.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – An Elegant Home – 30 Preston Place

Nestled in the corner of Grosse Pointe Farms is a small dead end street – Preston Place.

Preston Place was originally part of Kercheval, however over the years the land was sub-divided, with the separate plots of land creating the Preston Place subdivision.

The home was the recent location for the Grosse Pointe Historical Society’s Pop-Up tour, and we would like to thank the Historical Society for contributing a large amount of their research to us for this blog post.

So lets travel back in time to 1920 – Ms. Louise Webber, niece of J.L.Hudson (of Hudson’s Department store), is living with her husband Roscoe Jackson, president of the Hudson Motor Car Company, in an Arts and Crafts style home (designed by Leonard B. Willeke) in Indian Village.

Looking to reside next to the lake in Grosse Pointe Farms, we believe, based on research from the Historical Society, Louise Webber commissioned the home during the early 1920’s.

New York architect Duncan Candler was hired to design the house. Mr. Candler was a prominent architect in Maine. He designed many large prestigious residences, including a summer residence in Seal Harbor, Maine for the Rockefellers, along with creating Skylands, the Edsel Ford estate that is now owned by Martha Stewart. He is also credited with designing the Grace Dodge Hotel in Washington D.C, opening in 1921.

It is not known, however, when Chandler completed the design for the home and it was nearly ten years later before it was actually built. Prior to its completion Louise Webber lost her husband, Mr. Jackson, when he died unexpectedly while on a trip to Europe in 1929. They believe this tragic event, coupled with the dramatic downturn in the economy; courtesy of the Great Depression resulted in the delay to the home being built until 1932 when 486 Kercheval (now known as 30 Preston Place) was finally completed.

The Grosse Pointe Historical Society (GPHS) believes Ms. Webber used the residence primarily as a springtime home, spending the rest of the year in Palm Beach, Florida and Bay Harbor, Maine.

It is a lavish property, set on 10 acres of land, in a wooded area with a view of the lake.



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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to Kenwood Road – the Designers’ Collection: Part 2

After recently profiling the first block of Kenwood Road – ‘the Designers’ Collection: Part 1’ – we continue with our exploration of this roads stunning homes. Having presented the French inspired residences designed by Raymond Carey – numbers 51 and 100 – we continue this trend with a look at the work of D. Allen Wright.

D. Allen Wright. D. Allen Wright was a talented designer; he created the Headmaster’s House at Cranbrook School (in 1930), two homes on Kenwood long with two French Inspired homes on Cloverly Road. His creations on Kenwood are once again excellent examples of the French Provincial approach. House number 79 (completed in 1925) is particularly noticeable and typifies the qualities associated with this architectural style that were present during this period. The detailed brickwork around the front door is impactful. Wright also created the French inspired home – number 104 – in 1928.


79 Kenwood Road

79 Kenwood

79 Kenwood Road

79 Kenwood_door

Front Door – 79 Kenwood Road


104 Kenwood Road

104 Kenwood

104 Kenwood Road

House Number 90 – architect unknown. Also influenced by French architecture, house number 90 was built in 1926. The front façade and the roof are particularly distinctive, as is the entrance with the wrought iron above the door.

90 Kenwood

90 Kenwood Road

90 Kenwood_side

Entrance – 90 Kenwood Road

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to Kenwood Road – The Designers’ Collection: Part 1

Throughout our series of blog posts we regularly focus on the history of specific homes, profile individual designers and explore interesting roads.

This week we focus on the latter with an exploration of the first block of Kenwood Road, Grosse Pointe Farms, and its designer’s collection of beautifully crafted houses.

There are many roads in Grosse Pointe that have an abundance of homes created by some of Detroit’s most prominent architects – Bishop, Cloverly, Edgemont Park and Vendome being prime examples.

Kenwood is up there with the best of them, and may even lay claim to having the largest collection of homes – on one block – by the leading architectural talent of the 1920’s. With a road of such prominence we decided to separate the story of Kenwood Road into two parts starting with the homes created by the two most active architects on the block, Robert O. Derrick and Raymond Carey. Part 2 will explore the remaining houses generated by some equally talented designer’s.

The houses on Kenwood present an array of architectural styles, from Colonial Revival, Cotswold and Tudor through to French provincial.

Like so many of these prestigious streets, the beauty is in the details. As you head from Grosse Pointe Blvd and make your way towards Kercheval, many of these homes exhibit charming features, including the intricate brickwork on the chimney of house number 60, the superb classic Tudor entrance of house number 110, the fun weather vain at house number 90 and the decorative element on the pediment of number 63.

60 Kenwood_detail 110 Kenwood_entrance   Weather Vain  63 Kenwood

We begin our exploration of Kenwood with a look at the work of Robert O.Derrick, and the four homes he created – the largest contribution of any architect on the block.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The house that Burrowes built – 34 Beverly Road

Once upon a time, not so long a go a small road in Grosse Pointe Farms was visited by several of Detroit’s leading designer’s of the early 20th century. The road, a pretty cul-de-sac, looks rather normal from the outside, but on closer inspection there are many exciting things to see.

Beverly Road is one of the few private streets in Grosse Pointe Farms, and is home to 15 houses. In 1995 something very special happened to Beverly Road – it was listed on the National Register of Historical Places. If you take a walk down the street you will view the many large-scale, wonderfully styled homes that are on display – you can read the full story of Beverly Road by clicking here.

One day, back in 1913, a rather talented architect from Detroit, Marcus Burrowes (in association with Dalton R. Wells), received a commission from Sidney Trowbridge Miller – a the managing partner at Michigan’s oldest Law Firm, Miller Canfield – to build a home for himself and his young family.

Burrowes, already known throughout southeastern Michigan for his English Revival style buildings, accepted his new project and set about creating a grand residence for his client.

At the time of completion the 10,450 sq ft home was one of the largest in Grosse Pointe Farms. Created in the English Cottage style, the house displays many typical characteristics associated with this approach, including a steeply pitched roof, a large stone chimney on the front facade, decorative half-timbering, and multiple small windows.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to Stephens Road – home of the ranches

As you travel around Grosse Pointe it becomes apparent that not all roads are the same. Grosse Pointe may have once been a heavily wooded farming community, with primarily flat land, but on closer inspection there are exceptions to the rule.

In Grosse Pointe Farms a major change in the landscape occurs. From Lewiston to Vendome on the blocks between Ridge Road and Charlevoix the long flat streets give way to a significant gradient, and with it comes a notable change to the architectural style found in this part of community.

Many of the homes on these streets have been designed to reflect the change in the terrain, and it is understandable why many of the designers chose to work with the surroundings as opposed to fighting them. They created residences to blend seamlessly into the landscape – and clearly had fun doing so. One excellent example of this is the home Wallace Frost created, located at 242 Lewiston. Built in 1926, this 4,500 sq ft home is situated on a significant slope. It has many private patios and entrances to blend into the terrain; so much so, it is barely visible from the road.

Another road in the Farms that has several superb examples of homes working in tandem with the landscape is Stephens Road – the blocks between Ridge and Charlevoix. This picturesque block is home to several superb ranches, and was once a popular location for the auto industry to photograph new cars.


Image courtesy of Googlemaps.com


Stephens Road

Ranch homes became popular in the United States around 1950. The typical Californian Ranch style was first created during the Spanish Colonial period in the American Southwest in the 1830’s. Having evolved significantly over the years the style was revived by architects in the California Bay Region in the 1930’s, and then evolved once more with ‘contractor modern styles’ in the mid 1950’s.

Ranch homes are typically asymmetrical. The key characteristics of this style include: a single story close to the ground profile, long low-pitched roofs, low, wide chimneys, and large windows. Constructed from brick, the garage is typically integrated into the design, and frequently the homes are located on a large lot.

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Grosse Pointe Open Houses for this weekend – Sunday, May 22, 2016 from 2-4 p.m.

HMA has an open house this weekend-Sunday, May 22, 2016 2-4 p.m.:

Melissa Dagher Singh will be holding open 436 McKinley, Grosse Pointe Farms






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 – Welcome to Vendome – Something Special – Part 2

After recently profiling the first block of Vendome – ‘something special: part one’ – we continue with our exploration of the stunning homes as we cross Kercheval and continue our journey up the next two blocks of this prestigious street in Grosse Pointe Farms.

The homes on display were created by some of the very best designers who came to work in Grosse Pointe Farms in the early 1920’s. During the first two decades of the 20th century and during the period after WW1 Grosse Pointe Farms had transformed itself from a rural, recreational community to an exclusive suburb in Southeast Michigan

For many cities in America the 1920’s proved to be a golden era of architectural significance. During this period the City of Grosse Pointe Farms underwent an architectural transformation, with many key businessmen from Detroit choosing to relocate to the area. One of the streets that drew some of the ‘big names’ is Vendome.

H.H. Micou – having already built two homes on the first block, Number 83 (1928), and Number 84 (1929), Hilary Herbert Micou built two further homes on Vendome during the same period, Number 162 (1928), and Number 176 (1929) – both are traditional Colonial homes.


162 Vendome

House Number 176 is constructed from clapboard, and is a superb example of Colonial design. The 6,536 sq ft home consists of a gracious central entrance foyer (22’ x 24’ sq ft), a large wood paneled living room (27’ x 18’ sq ft) which includes a natural fireplace, a substantial dining room (20’ x 18’ sq ft) along with a library (20’ x 17’ sq ft) which provides access to the adjoining Florida room (21’ x 22’ sq ft). The first floor also includes a service bar room along with a dining room for the servants.


176 Vendome_1

The second floor features 5 bedrooms, along with a servant’s wing that contains 3 further bedrooms and a rear service stairway. The impressive master bedroom (16’ x 26’) features a fireplace, and is adjoined by a dressing room and a morning sunroom. If you take a look at the roof you will notice this set of four perfectly proportioned arched dormer windows.



176 Vendome_3

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Welcome to Vendome – Something Special – Part 1

Continuing with our series of blog posts profiling the homes on a specific street, this week we explore the first block of Vendome, offering us a glimpse into something special.

Having recently profiled the classically designed homes on Cloverly, and the unique collection of homes on McKinley Place, Vendome presents us with an eclectic mix of houses of varying styles, created by some of Detroit’s finest architects. The architectural styles on display span French and English Colonial, French Provincial, Georgian, and Mid-Century Modern. With so many fine homes to explore we will start with the first block, before moving further up the road next week.

Many of the homes on the first block of Vendome were conceived during the late 1920’s – a golden era of architectural significance in Grosse Pointe Farms. This period attracted some of the big names from Detroit’s leading architectural firms, with many of them making their way to Vendome to create some truly stunning homes.

During the early 1930’s Vendome was home to many prominent residents, who were key figures in manufacturing in Detroit.

H.H Micou designed around 15 homes in Grosse Pointe, with 8 houses in Grosse Pointe Farms alone over a period of 4 years – 1927 (77 Moran) through to 1931 (301 Touraine). His style encompassed from Colonial, Tudor Revival and French Eclectic. Four of his homes can be found on Vendome. Two are on the first block next door to each other: Number 84 (1929) – a French Provincial home and Number 83 (1928), while two further homes are located at 162, and 176.


84 Vendome

84 Vendome

84 Vendome

83 Vendome

83 Vendome

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