Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to 1051 Berkshire

Welcome to one of the most individual homes in Grosse Pointe – 1051 Berkshire. Not only does the house have a very individualistic design it was also one of the few residences created by the Detroit based firm of Donaldson & Meier.

Donaldson & Meier were well known for their church work in Detroit and southeastern Michigan. John M. Donaldson and Henry J. Meier founded the firm in 1880. Donaldson was born in Scotland in 1854 and immigrated to Detroit with his family as a child. He had a wide and varied architectural education – after graduating from school he returned to Europe to study at the Art Academy in Munich, Germany and at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

John Donaldson – Courtesy of Wikipedia

Henry Meier – Courtesy of Wikipedia

Much of their early work together centered on designing churches, employing the Richardson Romanesque style in many of their designs. However, as architectural styles evolved so did their approach, which is certainly reflected in the Art Deco David Stott Building Donaldson completed in 1929.

David Stott Building – Courtesy of Wikipedia

In 1917 Henry J. Meier passed. Donaldson continued to run the firm, creating many unique buildings. This includes the rare residential project located at 1051 Berkshire.

Based on research at the Grosse Pointe Historical Society we understand the home was designed to resemble a château that French born Victor R. Heftler had admired on a visit to France.

Known as the “Coin de France” Heftler commissioned the home for his family in 1929. The 4,159 sq ft 3 story house is designed with a French Normandy architectural approach, which is evident in its central turret, slate roof and stucco and stone façade.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Grosse Pointe’s Kit Homes – Part 3

Previously, we presented a brief overview into the history of kit homes in North America, whilst last week we told the story of several “probable” kit homes in Grosse Pointe and offered a brief introduction on how to go about identifying a kit home.

This week, in this final part of our kit home series, we delve a little further into two further “probable” kit homes in the Grosse Pointes. We use the word “probable” because these homes have yet to be authenticated. Given that none of the traditional kit house companies are still in business, and because many of the kit home records were either lost or destroyed it can be extremely difficult to authenticate these homes.

During the height of kit home popularity the price of a kit home varied dramatically. The costs were dependent on the manufacturer, the architectural style and size of the home, the choice of floor plan, plus any upgrades the purchaser wanted to include such as advanced technology – updated pluming and heating systems for instance. Prices, in 1920, were in the vicinity of $1,500 – $3,000 (around $21,000 – $41,000 today), however the land, brick, concrete, and/or masonry were not included in the price, neither was construction. It is believed, based on some excellent research by Andrew & Wendy Mutch, via their blog ‘Kit House Hunters’, the final cost of the home, when completed could escalate to between 2-3 times the list price in the catalogue. So a home listed for $1500 in a catalogue could actually cost $3000 – $4500 when complete.

It is believed ‘much of the profit in the kit home business came from the mortgage financing that accompanied the sale, and not the materials or the house itself’. Source antiquehomestyle.com. It should also be noted, that several kit home companies either went out of business or had to be drastically restructured as a result of the mortgage packages (they had offered to their customers) having a detrimental effect on the company.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Grosse Pointes Kit Homes – Part 1

We recently explored 849 Notre Dame, believing it to be the only kit home in Grosse Pointe. Turns out it is the only Sears Robuck Kit Home’ in Grosse Pointe, but there are in fact other kit homes in the community.

849 Notre Dame

Thanks to a wonderful blog ‘American Kit Homes’, which also included additional research by Ben Gravel, we were alerted to several more possible kit homes in the community.

We would like to introduce you to these homes. This week we will tell the story of an authenticated kit home – 1100 Bishop, and next week we will explore the “probable” kit homes that exist in the Woods and the City.

Kit homes, also known as mail-order homes or catalogue homes, became popular in the United States and Canada in the first half of the 20th Century. Between 1908 and 1940 over 100,000 kit homes were built in the United States: Source Wikipedia. Several companies, (with many based in Michigan and Illinois, including major competitors – Sears Modern Homes, Aladdin and Sterling Homes), offered houses with an abundance of plans and styles. The designs ranged from simple bungalows to more complex colonials.

The majority of the materials, supplied at a fixed price, were delivered initially by railroad to the local area, and then by truck to the construction site.

A typical house would contain between 10,000 – 30,000 components. Brick, concrete, and/or masonry were not included in the price, neither was construction. Upon delivery the purchaser would then either build the house themselves of hire local contractors to construct the home.

Kit homes were typically advertised in magazines and newspapers, and sold through mail-order catalogues. The purchaser could opt to purchase a standard kit or upgrade the design to include additional options such as extra rooms and advanced technology, such as updated pluming and heating systems. Prices, in 1920, were in the vicinity of $1,500 – $3,000 (around $21,000 – $41,000 today).

Courtesy of: https://www.flickr.com/photos/daily-bungalow/

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to Three Mile Drive – An Eclectic Mix: Part 2

Having explored several homes on Three Mile drive last week, we continue our journey with the review of eight further homes. The creation of these homes span several generations – from one of the earliest to appear on the street, number 805 (in 1917) to one of the newer homes to be constructed, number 1011 (in 1954).

Despite the obvious age gap, the architects that were responsible were prominent designers in their respective era’s. Given that the change in architectural style altered significantly from the early 20th century through to mid century, it is a testament to the skill of these men that none of these homes look out of place on a street that has such an eclectic mix of homes.

So lets begin with one of the older homes on Three Mile Drive, number 805, designed in 1917 by Charles Kotting. Born in Holland in 1865 Mr. Kotting worked on both commercial buildings and residential projects throughout Metro Detroit. He created several stunning large homes in Grosse Pointe between 1905 and 1930. This classically designed 4,710 sq ft Tudor Revival home has exquisite detailing on the front elevation, and has many superb characteristics associated with this architectural style including the half timbering, brick and white stucco finish, along with the smaller windows on the upper floor. It certainly makes an impressive statement at the beginning of the road.

805 Three Mile Dr.

George D. Mason. An architectural superstar, renowned Detroit historian Clarence M. Burton once wrote, quite simply George DeWitt Mason was “the dean of Detroit architects”. With a career spanning over 50 years George D. Mason created many historic buildings in and around the city, including several homes in Grosse Pointe, 9 of which (that we know of) are still standing. Here on Three Mile Mason created number 1175 for Frank E. Fisher in 1925. This substantial 8,166 sq ft house is designed in the English Cottage style, which was very popular in Grosse Pointe during this era.

Image courtesy of: www.detroit.lib.mi.us/featuredcollection/burton-historical-collection

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to Three Mile Drive – An Eclectic Mix: Part 1

Continuing with our series of blog posts profiling the homes on a specific street, this week we venture up Three Mile Drive and bring you the first of two blog posts on the eclectic mix of homes featuring everything from ballrooms to bomb shelters.

Arguably one of Grosse Pointes most prominent streets, Three-Mile Drive features a mix of large residences created by some of Detroit’s more accomplished architects. These designer’s contributed to creating a number of homes in Grosse Pointe at a time when the community was firmly establishing itself as one of the more prestigious neighborhoods in South Eastern Michigan.

The houses on Three Mile Drive are a mix of grand, unique and classically designed homes, encompassing Tudor, Spanish Villa, Georgian and Colonial architectural styles. Predominantly many of the homes were built during the 1920’s – a period when many of Detroit’s leading businessmen were selecting to build grand homes in Grosse Pointe.

The homes we are about to review represent a mere handful of special homes on this road. There are many more we would like to review, some of which will be covered in Part 2 of this blog post, while others we will review at a later date.

We begin our review of Three Mile Drive with a look at the work of Robert Calder, and his design of number 823, built in 1955. Calder designed many homes in Grosse Pointe primarily during the 1940’s and 1950’s, including one of the newer homes on Three Mile. This residence is a large 4,609 sq ft brick asymmetrical Colonial Home. In a listing from 1982 the home is believed to have a large 17’ x 27’ sq ft living room, four bedrooms, maids quarters, and a bomb shelter in the basement.

823 Three Mile Dr

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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 – An Elegant Tudor Home – 1005 Three-Mile Drive

Having covered many of the superb Tudor homes in the community designed by some of the leading architects who were adept at creating the charm associated with this style – William B. Stratton and Richard H. Marr for example, we turn our attention to 1005 Three Mile Drive, designed by Alvin Earnest. Harley.

Located on one of Grosse Pointes most prominent streets Three-Mile Drive, this elegant home was built for Edward Evans in 1925.

At the time of completion the 4,800 sq ft residence was located on a 50,000 sq ft ‘park like’ lot. The rather impressive exterior is a combination of stone, brick and wood – common traits of the Tudor style.

On entering the property through the solid oak front door, the foyer features an ornate tile ceiling and stone floor with Pewabic tile inserts. Many of the ceilings on the first floor – reception hall, living room and the library – display sculptured bas-relief designs; the floors are solid oak plank, while the walls are textured plaster.

The grand main reception hall is 25’ x 16’ sq ft, the substantial living room is 26’ x 17’ sq ft and includes to bay windows at either end – another classic feature of the Tudor style.

Also on the first floor is a superb 16’ x 10’ sun porch, with a stone floor and Pewbic tile inserts, said to mirror the style of the inserts used in the foyer. The large kitchen (17’ x 13’) is fitted with black walnut cabinets. When the house was built a butler’s pantry (14’ x 7’) connected the kitchen to the dining room, this has since been converted to a sewing room/kitchen-office area. The image below shows the floor plan of the first floor.

Floor Plan – First Floor

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Modern Colonial Work of Omer C. Bouschor – Part 2

Last week we covered the Tudor work of Omer C. Bouschor. During his career, this Detroit based architect created well over 29 homes in the community – more than many other architects.

The architectural style(s) that influenced Omer C. Bouschor’s homes in Grosse Pointe could be described as be defined by two very distinctive approaches. From the residences we have presented there is a distinct shift from his Tudor Revival homes of the 1930’s, through to the modern colonial homes he created between 1935 and 1954.

This week we explore the 15 modern colonial homes he created across the Grosse Pointe communities. Given that Bouschor’s 14 Tudor inspired homes (during the 1930’s) are clearly the work of a man who was adept at one particular architectural style, it is incredible to think he could so seamlessly transition into designing handsome colonial homes.

Having worked primarily in Grosse Pointe Park during the 1930’s Bouschor, in the 1940’s, began to work in the Farms and the Shores. From the list below you will see just how many superb homes he created during this period.

1935
113 Merriweather

This is one of the earlier homes to display a change in style to his modern colonial approach. Constructed from brick, with a clapboard front on the second floor, this 3,500 sq ft home is poles apart from the Tudor homes he was predominantly creating during the 1930’s, and was possibly his first project in Grosse Pointe Farms.

113-merriweather

113 Merriweather

1936
15127 Windmill Pointe Drive

15127-wpd_realtor-com

15127 Windmill Pointe Drive – Courtesy of Realtor.com

1939
759 Berkshire

759-berkshire

759 Berkshire

1117 Bishop

1117-bishop-realtor-com

1117 Bishop – Courtesy of Realtor.com

505 Middlesex

1940
103 Vendome

103-vendome

103 Vendome

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – An Exploration – Part 4: Bedford Road

Continuing with our review of individual streets in Grosse Pointe, we proceed in our exploration of Grosse Pointe Park and the intriguing street of Bedford.

Many of the houses in the Park were built prior to World War II, created for high-flying executives looking to relocate their families to Grosse Pointe. By the 1940’s the Park had an abundance of architecturally significant homes, located on many prestigious streets, including: Bishop, Kensington, Yorkshire, Edgemont Park, Three Mile Drive, Berkshire, Balfour, Middlesex, Westchester and Bedford (to name but a few).

Bedford has many interesting houses for us to profile including a number of homes created by several noted designers including: John C. Stahl, J. Ivan Dise, Robert Calder, Walter Mast, and William Kuni.

While these designers might not be household names, these architects made a difference to the architectural scene in Metro Detroit. They worked diligently throughout the area, creating houses that left a mark on the communities they touched.

John C. Stahl designed two homes on Bedford – 1006 and 729. Stahl (in collaboration with Donald L. Kinsey) designed 1006 Bedford in 1919 for one of Detroit’s most prominent realtors, John H. Tigchon and his family. The home was one of only a few homes in Grosse Pointe to be designed by the architectural firm of John C. Stahl and Donald L. Kinsey. Very little is known about Donald Kinsey, however John C. Stahl was recognized as one of the most skilled church and school architects in the state.

p1000961

1006 Bedford

This Colonial style 4,000 sq ft home is constructed from brick with a slate roof. It has a classic oversized entrance associated with this architectural style, which is flanked by a row of two columns either side of the door, supporting a roof above the entrance. At the time of completion the house was featured in an edition of Michigan Architect and Engineer as depicted by the black and white image below. You can read the full story of this home by clicking here.

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1006 Bedford – Courtesy of Michigan Architect and Engineer

House number 729 was completed in 1938. It is a 4,205 sq ft English Tudor style brick home that features a cathedral ceiling in the great room, along with beautiful natural woodwork throughout. At some point the home was expanded. We believe the expansion, in part, featured an update to the second floor – the master bedroom was altered to be equivalent in size to the living room (18’ x 24’sq ft) and a large master bath (11’ x 14’ sq ft) was also added.

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729 Bedford

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Grosse Pointe Open Houses for this weekend – Sunday, October 23, 2016 from 2-4 p.m.

HMA has an open house this weekend — Sunday, October 23, 2016 2-4 p.m.:

Liana Schissel will be holding open 1100 Devonshire, Grosse Pointe Park

Spectacular Move-In ready 4000+ sq. ft Colonial on a large corner lot with an oversized attached garage.  Come and enjoy the expansive center entryway, large dining room, and stunning details throughout this show stopper home.  Tastefully remodeled kitchen (2014) with large butcher block island, newer appliances and a beautiful butler’s pantry complete with secret storage drawers and a gardener’s sink. Refinished hardwood floors and completely new interior paint (2014).  Three fireplaces – Living Room, Master Bedroom and Library. The master bedroom has a large walk-in closet and ensuite bathroom. Beautiful lushly landscaped English garden with a lovely private outdoor patio.  The finished basement has a rec room with laundry, bonus back room, 2 walk in closets for storage as well a half bath.

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For more detail visit:  http://ow.ly/cK1x305mNrh

 

We look forward to seeing you!

 

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