Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Architect – Hugh T. Keyes.

Welcome to the work of Hugh Tallman Keyes, 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.

HughTKeyesKeyes was born in Trenton, MI in 1888. He 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 briefly working at Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, Keyes opened 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. However he was most known for Regency (mostly French) houses of white brick, Georgian/Palladian, and incorporating symmetrical bow-fronted wings and wrought iron balconies into his designs.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Architect – Marcus Burrowes

MBurrowesLet us introduce you to Detroit architect Marcus Burrowes. Burrowes was a versatile artist, designing residential, public and municipal buildings in and near Detroit. During the 1920’s and 1930’s Burrowes was widely known throughout southeast Michigan for his English Revival Style buildings, a style he also brought to the Grosse Pointe communities as part of the eight buildings (that we know of) he designed here.

Marcus R. Burrowes was born in Tonawanda, N.Y near Buffalo in 1874. He attended the Denver Art Academy, studying with architects of note as well as serving an apprenticeship to a prominent architectural firm in Denver.

In 1892 Burrowes moved to Ottawa, Canada to work in the chief architects office, specializing in post office buildings. During his time there he also created several public buildings in Sarnia. It wasn’t long before, Burrowes ambitions prompted him move across the river to Detroit, which at the time was where some of the best architectural talent in Michigan could be found.

Around 1905 Burrowes got the opportunity to work in the offices of Albert Kahn. In 1907 he joined noted architectural firm Stratton and Baldwin (already prominent designers in Grosse Pointe) where he stayed for two years. During his time with the firm he would meet many leading figures in the Arts and Crafts movement in Detroit, including Kahn, William B Stratton, Frank C. Baldwin and George Booth. Through his relationship with Stratton, Burrowes also made an important connection with Mary Chase Stratton of Pewabic Pottery – his launching pad into the Detroit Architectural Scene was complete.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Lakeshore and the ‘turn of the century’ summer cottages.

At the end of the nineteenth century Grosse Pointe was a vastly different scene to the community we live in today. In 1889 Grosse Pointe Village had recently expanded and was part of Grosse Pointe Township, residents living close to the shoreline of Lake St. Clair were starting to express a desire to establish a separate community from the Village. In 1893 the residents got their wish and Grosse Pointe Farms became a separate community, its boundaries stretched from Fisher Road to Weir Lane and from Lake St. Clair to Grosse Pointe Boulevard.

Lakeshore was originally an early Indian trail, and later became a well-traveled route along the lake. In 1851 the road became known as Jefferson Avenue, and in 1915, the section of Jefferson Avenue located in Grosse Pointe was officially named Lakeshore Rd.

Rural road  Rural road _2

Land was at a premium and in the mid-late 19th century the area was becoming a ‘hotspot’ for wealthy Detroit businessman to build large summer cottages for their families. Many of the new constructions were typical of the Gothic Revival and Queen Anne architectural styles of that period. Given this was where the families would be spending their summers the majority of the properties were set in picturesque settings with well manicured lawns and elegant flower gardens.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Carl E. and Alice Chandler Schmidt House, aka 301 Lakeshore.

One of Grosse Pointes most historic homes is arguably the Carl E. and Alice Chandler Schmidt House located at 301 Lakeshore. Built in 1904 it is one of the oldest surviving ‘turn of the century’ summer cottages in the community, retaining a view of Lake St. Clair and part of the original grounds.


Carl E. Schmidt was born in Detroit in 1858. His father was Traugott Scmidt, who came to the United States, from Germany, in 1849. His father was a tanner, who exported skins, furs and wool, Carl was secretary of the company up until his fathers death in 1897. Soon after he started his own tannery firm – Carl E. Schmidt & Co.

Schidmt was a prominent figure in the Detroit area, active in politics, serving as a member of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners, along with sitting on several state boards.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – 24 Beverly Road, Grosse Pointe Farms

Take a trip down Beverly Road in Grosse Pointe Farms. You will walk past the 15 houses that line both sides of the cul de sac – designed by some of Detroit’s most prominent architects of the early 20th century. The road runs from Grosse Pointe Boulevard to Jefferson Avenue, and is separated from Jefferson by the stunning neo-classical iron fence and gates designed by Albert Kahn around 1907.


Next to the gates is house number 24. Built in 1916 the house has fabulous artistic detailing inside and out and has some truly unique features.



DSCF2494The 5,976 Sq ft Colonial Revival home has seven bedroom’s four full baths and is constructed from brick. On the outside the house has many wonderful stone carvings that frame the doors and windows (acanthus leaves and rosettes), and a striking two-story bay window, outlined in stucco and carved stone.

Inside the house, the artistic treatments continue and are visible in abundance, along with the hardwood floors that run throughout the house.

The center piece of the home is the stately foyer which features many intricate details, and traditional craftsmanship – paneling carved with leaves and grapes, pocket doors designed and crafted to disappear, hidden latches and a stunning carved balustrade.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – 203 Cloverly Road, aka Koebel House, and the Saarinens

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – 203 Cloverly Road, aka Koebel House, and the Saarinens

Let us introduce you to 203 Cloverly Road, Grosse Pointe Farms and the modern architectural style of Eliel and Eero Saarinen.

This stunning home was built by the father and son team of Eliel and Eero Saarinen, in conjunction with J. Robert F. Swanson. It is the Grosse Pointe’s only home to be designed by the internationally renowned team.

Eliel_SaarinenBorn in Finland the Saarinens arrived in the United States in 1923. Prior to the move Eliel had had a very successful architectural career in his homeland, and was known for his work with art deco buildings in the early 20th century. On their arrival in America the Saarinens first settled in Evanston, Illinois where Eliel worked on a plan for the development of the Chicago lakefront. In 1925 George Gough Booth asked Eliel to design the campus of Cranbrook Education Community, at the time, it was intended to be the American equivalent of the Bauhaus, the world famous design school in Germany. Along with designing the new school Eliel taught at the school (the first resident architect) and a few years later, in 1932, he became the first president of the Academy of Art. Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Beverly Road Historic District, 23 – 45 Beverly Rd, Grosse Pointe Farms.

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Beverly Road Historic District, 23 – 45 Beverly Rd, Grosse Pointe Farms.

Nestled on the edge of Grosse Pointe Farms is a small private road. It looks pretty normal from the outside, but venture down the cul-de-sac and you will enter ‘designers row’, a wealth of architectural gems from some of Detroit’s best designers of the early 20th century.

Beverly Road is one of the few private streets in Grosse Pointe Farms. It covers the original area of the Beverly Park Subdivision, which was platted by Henry B. Joy in 1911. The district was one of the earliest upper-class subdivisions in the Grosse Pointes, and played a major part in the transition of the area from a farming and summer-home community to an upscale year-round community for wealthy Detroiter’s. Residents of the district included prominent corporate executives and lawyers such as William P. Hamilton, William Cornelius Crowley, Edwin R. Stroh, Sidney T. Miller, William Van Dyke, and Edwin B. Henry. Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Grosse Pointe Central Library

From the lost mansions of Lake Shore to the modern marvel of the Grosse Pointe Central Library.

GP Library_1

Courtesy of grosse pointe public library

Located in Grosse Pointe Farms the building design was the brainchild of architect and furniture designer Marcel Breuer.

Marcel-BreuerMarcel Lajos Breuer was a design genius. Born in Hungary in 1902 he left his hometown at the age of 18 in search of artistic training. He relocated to Germany where he was one of the first and youngest students at the Bauhaus. The Bauhaus, a radical arts and crafts school, at the time was responsible for producing some of the most talented designers in the 20th century. It was founded by Walter Gropius and was located in Weimar, Germany just after the First World War. Gropius recognized Breuer as a significant talent and he was soon made the head of the Carpentry workshop.

Breuer was surrounded by the crème de la crème of artistic talent (Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Josef Albers – all faculty members at the Bauhaus) and he would come to be known as one of the masters of modernism, his most famous work was the Wassily Chair (designed in 1925).

In 1932 Gropius lead Breuer to his first house assignment in Wiesbaden and soon after he moved to London. In 1937 Gropius accepted the position of chairman at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and Breuer joined him. Their partnership was to influence the American way of designing modern houses and together they influenced such students as Philip Johnson, I.M. Pei and Paul Rudolph.

Having firmly established himself in the United States Breuer (in collaboration with other designers) created many significant public buildings on the East Coast of the country, including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City (1966).

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In 1951 Marcel Breuer arrived in Grosse Pointe. Through his former student (at Harvard Graduate School of Design), Grosse Pointe resident, and architecture enthusiast, W. Hawkins Ferry, Breuer became involved in the design of the Grosse Pointe Central Library.

GP Library_2

Courtesy of – us.geoview.info

Construction began in 1953. What Breuer created was similar to his other small-scale public buildings and from the outset Breuer envisioned the new building as “the living room of the community”. The small, elegant, two story, simple box structure features many design elements that were often present in some of his other projects – simple linear lines and floor to ceiling windows that create a seamless transition between the interior and the exterior. On many of his other buildings Breuer relied heavily on the use of concrete, however when he created the library he chose to use brick out of respect for the traditional architecture found in Grosse Pointe.

GP Library

GP Library_3

The interior features double height rooms with exposed structural elements, most notably in the ceiling slabs. The building also features noted works of art including an Alexander Calder mobile and a Herbert Matter mural.



Courtesy of dcaiga.blogspot.com

In 2007 the library was threatened with demolition to allow for a larger, more technological library for the community. However, in order to bring attention to the threat the building was listed in the 2008 World Monument Fund’s (WMF) watch list of 100 Most endangered Sites. Through WMF’s Modernism at Risk initiative, funded archival research that documented the history of the library and the efforts of many community members the building was saved from demolition and stands today as a little piece of Bauhaus modernism in the heart of Grosse Pointe.

We will be continuing the series with another extraordinary building next week.

Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2015 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).

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Grosse Pointe Farms and the Roaring 20’s – Part 2: Popular Architectural Styles.

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Grosse Pointe Farms and the Roaring 20’s – Part 2: Popular Architectural Styles.

The 1920’s in Grosse Pointe Farms (GPF) were a time of change, prosperity, and architectural transformation. It was a golden era for the area in terms of the prominent architects who were being asked to commission homes in the community.

Their work was becoming just as important as the families who were hiring them and Grosse Pointe Farms ‘dream team’ of designers (featuring Robert O. Derrick, Hugh T. Keyes, H.H. Micou and J. Ivan Dise (to name but a few) were beginning to transform the look and feel of the community.

The Victorian homes of the late 1800’s (with the fluted wooden columns, the large bay windows and the horseshoe arches) and the vernacular houses of the early twentieth century were giving way to some of the finest examples of Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, French Eclectic, and Italian Renaissance architecture in the country.

Colonial Revival

Probably the most popular style in and around Grosse Pointe Farms in the 1920’s was Colonial Revival Homes. Colonial Revival homes are typically two stories, have a symmetrical front facade with an accented doorway, and evenly spaced windows on either side often in pairs or threes. Many homes borrow features from colonial period houses of the early 19th century and some of the best examples of this style can still be found around Grosse Pointe Farms today –

  • 23, 27 Beverly Road (1923 R.O Derrick)
  • 75 Kenwood (1926 R.O Derrick)
  • 168 Moran


Tudor Revival

The other style that proved to be just as important as the Colonial Revival in GPF is Tudor Revival Homes. Built in the early 1900’s through to the early 30’s Tudor Revival homes ranged from elaborate mansions to modest suburban properties. Within GPF they fall into three general categories – public buildings (schools and churches), stone houses (based loosely on the design of late medieval English manor houses) and homes based on the picturesque character of late medieval cottages and country homes.

The main characteristics of a Tudor Revival home are steeply pitched roofs with multiple gables, tall, narrow casement windows (which were often set in groups of three), stucco siding and distinctive stone detailing. Some of the best examples of Tudor Revival homes that can still be found around Grosse Pointe Farms are –

  • 53, 110 (Robert O. Derrick), 118, 215, 219 Cloverly Road
  • 78 Lakeshore Drive (1928 H.T. Keyes)
  • 242 Lewiston Road
  • 60 (1927 C. Giles), 109 (1929 G.D. Mason) 110 (1927 R.A. Colder), 130 (1926 J.I. Dise) 138 (1929 R. Carey) Kenwood Road.
  • 257  Ridge Road (1928 Albert Kahn)
  • 72  Touraine Road (1928 H.H. Micou).


French Eclectic

Another style that has many great examples in Grosse Pointe Farms is French Eclectic. This charming style took hold and became popular in the 1920’s and continued through the 1940’s. French Eclectic homes generally feature steeply pitched, hipped roofs that are often flared at the eaves. Constructed of brick, with covered porches (with a lot of detail) these homes usually feature massive chimneys and small-hipped roof dormers. One popular example is Richard Elementary School, while a much simpler example is Cottage Hospital (St John).

Houses located in the Farms that display many of the typical features of this style can be located at –

  • 69, 93 Cloverly Road
  • 90, 100 Kenwood Road
  • 44 Provencal Road.

Italian Renaissance

Finally, we couldn’t talk about this significant architectural period without mentioning the Italian Renaissance. GPF has a small collection of high quality examples of this style of architecture. A classic example is located at 44 Beverly Road, which displays all the characteristics you would expect from a Renaissance Style Home.

44 Beverly

The most interesting example is located at 221 Lewiston, which was designed by Hugh.T. Keyes in 1924 and while it is relatively unusual for period style houses of its type in Grosse Pointe Farms it is truly stunning.

221 Lewiston


The roaring 20’s… a Golden Era of Architectural significance in Grosse Pointe Farms thanks to the prominent architects and their varied designs that feature so wonderfully in the community today – we hope you enjoy locating the many building we have mentioned.


Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2015 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).

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Grosse Pointe Farms and the Roaring 20’s – Part 1: the architects.

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Grosse Pointe Farms and the Roaring 20’s – Part 1: the architects.

The roaring 20’s..boom time for many cities in America and a Golden Era of Architectural significance in Grosse Pointe Farms.

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. The area, up until that point, had been a haven for summer recreational cottages for wealthy Michigan families, who wanted to spend their summers on the lake. However, during the 20’s things began to change and the once hotspot for vacations was being transformed into a year round neighborhood for affluent Detroiters.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the vernacular houses that were visible around Grosse Pointe Farms were typical of the homes found in Southeast Michigan and their architectural style was readily identifiable. However, as American prospered, the 1920’s in Grosse Pointe Farms ushered in a new style of architecture. Homes started to become a lot more varied in their style thanks to the prominent architects who were coming to the area to work on non-residential buildings and houses in the community.

Robert O. Derrick  Albert Kahn  John Russell Pope  Charles A. Platt  C. Howard Crane

The most popular architectural style was Colonial Revival and it was architect Robert O.Derrick who used this style most frequently in his Grosse Pointe designs.

Robert O. Derrick was a prominent architect known for his design of period style buildings. He designed more buildings in Grosse Pointe Farms than any other architect, and twenty of his buildings still exist. The majority of his buildings were designed in Colonial Revival style, while a few where in a Tudor Revival style.

H.H. Micou designed eleven buildings in Grosse Pointe Farms in four years. His 4 homes on Vendome and three on Touraine sill exist today and like Derrick, his style was predominantly Colonial and Tudor Revival along with French Eclectic.

The work of Hugh T. Keys also featured heavily in the Farms in the late 1920’s. His pièce de résistance was undoubtedly his Italian Renaissance inspired home at 221 Lewiston. Keys also had a passion for Colonial and Tudor Revival designs – 78 Lakeshore Drive being a prime example.

221 Lewiston  78 Lakeshore

Detroit based architect J. Ivan Dise created three houses on Kenwood, one on Cloverly and a further house on Country Club Lane between 1926- 1929.

Other prominent architects, who were not necessarily known for their work on residential properties also began to create some wonderful homes in the Farms. C.Howard Crane – who specialized in the design of movie places in North America – designed homes at 63, 69 and 79 Cloverly. While innovative industrial designer Albert Kahn designed homes at 8 Carmel Lane, 28 McKinley Place and 257 Ridge Road to name but a few.

63 Cloverly  69 Cloverly

Not to be forgotten nationally known architects, who already had significant works on Lakeshore, also had residential projects in the Farms – John Russell Pope (designer of the Roy D. Chapin Residence at 447 Lake Shore Road) designed a Colonial Revival home at 300 Provencal in 1928. While Charles A. Platt (famed for his work on Alger House at the GP War Memorial in 1910) created 99 Lothrop in 1928.

The influence these architects had on the architectural style of homes and buildings in Grosse Pointe Farms was astonishing. Their focus on Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival designs lead a transformation in the style of homes that were built throughout the community, which not only lead to a consistent look and feel but continued in smaller, simpler homes by architects who were less known.

Some of the best examples of Colonial Revival buildings that can still be found around Grosse Pointe Farms are –

Non-residential buildings:


Punch and Judy exterior

Residential Homes:

  • 180 Ridge Road (1926 R.O Derrick)
  • 248 Provencal (1925 R.O Derrick)
  • 411 Country Club Lane (1932 William B. Stratton)
  • 194 Provencal (1934 Raymond D. Carey)
  • 226 Provencal (1941 Frank Miles)
  • 309 Lake Shore Drive (1949 John L. Pottle)

Additional examples are located at:

  • 23, 27 Beverly Road (1923 R.O Derrick)

23 Beverly  27 Beverly

  • 210 Cloverly
  • 181 Earl Court
  • 56 (1928 H.H. Micou), 70 (1927 R.O Derrick), 75 (1926 R.O Derrick), 120 (1926 R.O Derrick), 135 (1926 R.O Derrick) Kenwood Road

56 Kenwood  70 Kenwood

75 Kenwood 120 Kenwood

135 Kenwood


We will be will continuing with the exploration of the architectural styles in Grosse Pointe Farms next week, with an in-depth look at the Colonial Revival style along with other popular architectural styles that featured so heavily in the roaring 20’s.


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).