Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – the manor on the lake – 15366 Windmill Pointe Drive

Located on Windmill Pointe Drive house number 15366 was recently awarded a historic plaque by the Grosse Pointe Historical Society. I was honored to be asked to conduct the research of this residence, and give a presentation at the annual awards ceremony.

The Grosse Pointe Historical Society kindly gave Higbie Maxon permission to share the research (edited for this blog post) in order to present the story of this historic home along with some wonderful photo’s of the property – courtesy of Robin Maghielse.

This home is also the venue for the Historical Society’s ‘Moonlight at the Manor’ Gala Party – on June 9th – tickets are available- please click here for details.

The Architect – William Buck Stratton
It is believed William Buck Stratton first appeared in the Detroit City directory in 1889 while he was working as a draughtsman for the prestigious architectural firm of Mason & Rice.

strattonStratton was an innovative designer and has been described as having a vigorous creative imagination. He had a reputation for staying abreast of the latest trends in commercial and residential architecture; thus allowing him to create designs that were ahead of their time. Stratton was a huge advocate of the Art & Crafts movement in Detroit, along with several others prominent architects including Albert Kahn. As part of the dedication to this movement Stratton helped organize the first and second annual exhibitions of arts and crafts held at the Detroit Museum of Art in 1904 and 1905.

His work in Grosse Pointe demonstrates his diverse range and aptitude for switching between architectural styles. Stratton was very good at adapting his style to the desires of his clients.

During his career, he worked with several partners, creating a number of homes in Grosse Pointe that varied extensively in style. During the 1920’s he worked on numerous commissions in the community including 4 Woodland Place (1922), 365 University Place (1923), 15366 Windmill Pointe, 341 Lakeland (1927), and 938 Three Mile (1927 – Stratton’s own home).


365 University Place

341 Lakeland_a

341 Lakeland

938 Three Mile_a

938 Three Mile

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Grosse Pointe Open Houses for this weekend – Sunday, May 29, 2016 from 1-3 p.m.

HMA has an open house this weekend—-Sunday, May 29, 2016 1-3 p.m.:

Jaime Rae Turnbull will be holding open 1245 Three Mile, Grosse Pointe Park

Remarkable classic English Tudor with old world charm and many modern updates located on spectacular deep lot in the heart of GPP. Custom solid mahogany door, trim and original doors and hardware throughout. Large dining room and living room with stunning limestone fireplace and dramatic staircase. Screened in porch off formal library with built-in book cases and hardwood floor. Awesome family home with large bedrooms and updated bathrooms. Third floor living area with bedroom, bathroom, and living room! ***Seller has repaired all items cited in the City of GPP inspection, estate sale completed and the home is vacant and ready for a new family! *** This 4,027 sq. ft. home is listed for $485,000.

1245 Three mile1

For more details visit: http://ow.ly/Iixh300BYkh


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 – a home fit for a realtor – 1006 Bedford Road

In 1919 one of Detroit’s most prominent realtors, John H. Tigchon, commissioned a home, fit for a realtor, to be built for his family on Bedford Road, Grosse Pointe Park.

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.

John C. StahlStahl, a German American, was born in Detroit, 1874. After graduating from Central High School (Wayne State University) in 1903 he worked in architectural offices during the day and studied building and design at night school. Stahl had a very successful career, he established the firm of Stahl and Kinsey, before going on to design several churches in Detroit. One of his earliest commissions, and possibly the design he is best known for, is the Frederick Linsell House in1904. The Georgian style home, is located in the middle of Wayne State Campus.

He was known to be an admirer of fine woods and incorporated these into many of his homes, including several he created in the Indian Village Historic District between 1912 and 1916. He had a stellar reputation in Detroit as being ‘strictly ethical in every manner as an architect’. Along with being a member of the American Institute of Architects he was also a member of the Detroit Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and was honored by the Michigan Society of Architects’ – elected president for two terms.


Frederick Linsell House – courtesy of www.doblevych.com – Wayne State University, CC BY-SA 3.0, wikimedia.org

In 1919 Stahl and Kinsey were hired by John H. Tigchon to design a new home on Bedford Road.

At the beginning of the 20th century Mr. Tigchon was one of Detroit’s best-known and successful realtors. Based on research from the book, the History of Wayne County and the City of Detroit (Burton, C. M. and M. Agnes Burton), John Tigchon began his real estate career in 1892. ‘One of his holdings was Windmill Land Company, a subdivision in Grosse Pointe Park. Mr. Tigchon owned from Alter Rd. to Three Mile Drive and from Mack Ave. to the river’. It is believed this subdivision was also created and developed by Tigchon.

His real estate career spanned nearly 30 years; in this time his contribution to ‘the cities growth, development and improvement’ during this era put him at the forefront of the business community, working with an array of high-class clientele. During his career John Tigchon was one of the organizers of the Detroit Real Estate Board, and played an active role in the organization, serving as its president in 1907.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – 1251 Devonshire – A Gracious and Distinctive Home

There are many homes in and around Grosse Pointe that make you want to just stop and look. Some have a distinctive design, while others are strikingly different from the homes that surround them.

While many homes fall into the latter category, it is the former that applies to 1251 Devonshire, a gracious and distinctive home located in Grosse Pointe Park, created by John W. Case.


Case was born in Geneva, 1864, however it isn’t clear when he moved to the United States. After graduating from high school he studied architecture at the University of Michigan, and majored in architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, before heading back to Europe to continue his studies. During his career he worked in New York, Boston, and Baltimore before ultimately winding up in Detroit, where he was primarily based.

From 1905 to 1920 he also served as the Professor or Architecture at the University of Illinois before returning to Utica, Michigan where he lived until his death in 1937.

In an edition of the American Architect and Building News, dated 1897, John W. Case was acknowledged to be part of a group of local architects, members of the ‘Detroit Architectural Sketch Club’ who were asked to give a public lecture on Architectural History, and each prepare a paper. This group also included Albert Kahn, Louis Kamper, H. J. M Grylls and Emil Lorch.

With regards to his work at 1251 Devonshire, Case created the modern colonial home for George W. Yeoman in 1918. The 3,833 sq ft home is featured extensively in a 1919 edition of ‘Michigan Architect and Engineer’, which also featured some wonderful photos of the property (please see below – courtesy of books.google.com).


The Library – courtesy of Michigan Architect and Engineer – books.google.com


Entrance Hall – courtesy of Michigan Architect and Engineer – books.google.com


Dining Room – courtesy of Michigan Architect and Engineer – books.google.com

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Leonard B. Willeke Houses of Three Mile Drive

Willeke 2During a distinguished career Leonard Bernard Willeke, the Cincinnati and Detroit based architect, designed close to 30 homes in Grosse Pointe, and many more around Metro Detroit. During the 1920’s, his golden era, Willieke had a stellar reputation for designing outstanding homes for wealthy clients. He created some exquisite mansions in Grosse Pointe Park, including the largest residence of his career, the Oscar Webber mansion in 1925.

Many streets around Grosse Pointe Park have at least two or more of his homes, including Berkshire, Balfour and Three Mile Drive.

The three Willeke homes on Three Mile are arguably some of his finest examples. Two of these homes are located next door to each other on a street that includes the work of several noted architects.

Located at 1010 and 1012 both homes are a wonderful examples of English Tudor design, they were constructed within a year of each other, and built for two leading businessmen, including William A. Petzold, secretary and treasurer of J.L Hudson and Company, and Raymond J. Purdy, president and co-founder of the Ainsworth Manufacturing Company.

1010 Three Mile
It is believed, through his project with Oscar Webber, the VP of J.L Hudson and Company, Willeke became acquainted with William A. Petzold, who commissioned the architect to design a large Tudor residence and garden in 1928.


1010 Three Mile Drive

Petzold was widely known in the business circles of Detroit. He first became associated with Hudson’s in 1881, starting at the company as a clothing merchant, where he quickly climbed the corporate ladder to become secretary and treasurer in 1899 – the same year as he was admitted to the State of Michigan bar. Mr. Petzold married Josephine Thompson (sister of William B. Thompson, the Mayor of Detroit in 1911 and 1912) and together they had five children.

The home Willeke created for the Petzold family is constructed of solid masonry and features traditional timbers associated with the Tudor Style, filled with stucco between each timber. The 3-story home is around 6,100 sq ft, the first floor features a large living room (18’ x 30’), dining room (14’ x 20’), and a sun room (14’ x 20’), along with 5 large bedrooms on the second floor, and a ballroom, complete with stage, and 3 additional bedrooms (for maids) on the third floor.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – An Estate Fit for ‘a King’ – 740 Whittier

We recently profiled the work of Richard H. Marr, known as the ‘Architect of Midwest Millionaires’, who created upper end homes for some of Detroit’s wealthiest families.

It is believed Marr designed over 14 stunning homes in Palmer Woods, most of which were in the Tudor Style, and over seven residences here in Grosse Pointe. He specialized in designing residential projects and apartments, working primarily in Detroit and the surrounding suburbs. During his career he created many stunning homes, most of which were in the Tudor architectural style.

At its height of popularity in the 1920’s, the Tudor style required skill by the architect to reproduce the typical characteristics in the right proportions in order to create the charm associated with this style.

Given Marr’s skill at Tudor design and for creating something special, 740 Whittier, Grosse Pointe Park, combines superb charm and beauty, along with meticulous attention to detail.


Marr was commissioned by C. F Bohn, who was also known as the ‘aluminum king’, to create a dream home on shores of Lake St. Clair. C. F Bohn was the President of the Bohn Aluminum and Brass Corporation, believed to have been formed in the 1920’s when the C. F. Bohn Foundry Company merged with the General Aluminum and Brass Company.

From research on theoldmotor.com the C. F Bohn Foundry Company was located near the Packard Plant, supplying ‘high quality aluminum and brass specialty castings to Packard along with many other automobile companies in the city. After WWI the company began to grow quickly with plans to build two modern furnaces for melting and refining brass.

Bohn’s new home on Whittier was built in 1933. The 6,842 sq ft residence sits on the shores of Lake St. Clair on a massive 1.7-acre lot. It is believed Richard Marr utilized ideas from Europe and America when he designed this home, integrating many handsome features.


Courtesy of Bing.com

The home has been described as having two fronts, one facing the street and the other the garden and the lake. Constructed from brick and Gothic Indiana Limestone, with a slate roof, the design incorporates the traditional timbers (associated with the Tudor style) on both the front and the rear elevations.


740 Whittier – courtesy of realtor.com

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – the changing face of architecture: Cadieux Road

In 1835 a Frenchman named Michael Cadieux bought the land, which is now known as Cadieux road. It was one of the many ribbon farms that dotted the waterfront in Detroit and the Grosse Pointes during that era.

The Cadieux family has a long and rich history in the Detroit area and Cadieux road is a landmark in the community.

Prior to 1900, many homes in the area were typical French farmhouses. As Grosse Pointe transitioned from a farming community into a year round residential neighborhood the style of the homes underwent a dramatic transformation.

Cadieux Road was one such location that played witness to the transition from farmhouse style residences to more modern style homes that were popular at the time. In 1892, the Theodore F. Damerow House, possibly one of the last farmhouse style homes on this plot, was constructed at 600 Cadieux (the address of this house is now 16935 Maumee Avenue) the date for the change is address is unknown.


Image courtesy of: Grosse Pointe Historical Society

At the dawn of the twentieth century the architectural style of homes in Grosse Pointe and the City of Detroit was changing quickly. Many of the leading architects in Detroit were becoming influenced by the Craftsman Style, also known as the Arts and Crafts style, which was based on the Arts and Crafts movement in Europe, spearheaded by William Morris. Several prominent designers, at the time, including Albert Kahn and William B. Stratton were keys figures in the growth of the arts and crafts movement within the city, which included The Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts along with an annual exhibition (starting in 1904) held at the Detroit Museum of Art.

Many of the small arts and crafts homes that were built during this era are believed to have been influenced by the California bungalow style. The design(s) featured a ‘planned decor’ with much of the interior constructed from the same carved and polished wood, giving it a very cohesive artistic style throughout.

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2015 Annual Report – Grosse Pointe Real Estate

Higbie Maxon Agney is pleased to offer our 2015 Grosse Pointe Real Estate Annual Report – Within this report you will find information on average sale prices, sales volume, real estate trends, and much more.

HMA_report2015 was an extraordinary year for real estate in the community. The last twelve months recorded over $277million in residential sales alone; the largest number of homes sold in the past 5 years – 870; and the year culminated with the highest average price since 2011 – $318,803 – an increase of 48% over the last five years. The past year was also the best year in a decade for million dollar sales– 20 luxury homes sold at $1 million or greater.

Please click on the image to the left to access the full report.

Our goal is to give you an accurate and complete picture of the 2015 Grosse Pointe housing market. All of the graphs were produced internally for Higbie Maxon Agney using MiRealsource and Realcomp II, LTD multiple listing services.

Higbie Maxon Agney is the only brokerage in Grosse Pointe that tracks every single home sale in both multiple listing systems and seeks out and removes inconsistencies in the raw data. We are confident these are the best statistics currently available on the Grosse Pointe housing market, and we hope that you will find the contents of this report readable and useful!

We cannot predict what will happen in 2016 however, we can use this information to help our clients make informed and educated real estate decisions in the coming year.

We look forward to assisting you with any real estate needs you may have in the coming year.



Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – A lasting impression – architectural firm Smith, Hinchman & Grylls

Commercial, Cultural, Educational, Industrial, Residential – Smith, Hinchman and Grylls offered a wonderfully diverse portfolio, designing many iconic buildings in Detroit along with creating several prominent buildings in Grosse Pointe.

224 Vendome

224 Vendome

We recently profiled one of their grandest residential projects in the community 15530 Windmill Pointe, Grosse Pointe Park – you can read the full story here – while touching briefly on the firm’s history, and acknowledging the group’s extraordinary talent at adjusting stylistically to the preference of the client.

According to research from Michiganmodern.org Smith, Hinchman and Grylls is one of the oldest architectural firms in America. Sheldon Smith, a self-taught architect, started the company in 1853 in Ohio, having gained experience with his brother, an architect on the east coast. In 1855 he moved the company to Detroit.

In 1861, Smith’s son Mortimer, a formally trained architect, became a partner in the firm, but sadly it would not lengthy collaboration, Smith Snr. passed in 1869. After his fathers death, Mortimer began to expand the office and it is reported the office became a popular place for up-and coming architects to train and gain experience. One such novice was George D. Mason, who would go on to become one of Metro’s Detroit’s most outstanding and influential architects.

The firm grew quickly, gaining a stellar reputation in creating large commercial and civic structures throughout the area. In 1896 two graduates of the University of Michigan College of Engineering – Theodore H. Hinchman, and Henry G. Field – joined the firm, utilizing their engineering talents to design many large-scale projects such as the Hiram Walker & Sons distillery in 1904.

In 1906 Henry G. Field left the firm and H.J Maxwell Grylls joined the company as a partner, there was no looking back. The firm of Smith, Hinchman and Grylls surged forward completing a multitude of projects, which continue to this day in the form of SmithGroupJJR. The company now ranks as the United States’ 7th largest architectural and engineering firm (Building Design & Construction, July 2015) and employs 800.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Grosse Pointes Grandest Home? – 15530 Windmill Pointe Drive

Take a walk down Windmill Pointe, Grosse Pointe Park, and it can feel like you have entered an architectural exhibition, with so many classical works on display it is hard to know where to look first.


A prime example is the house located at 15530 Windmill Pointe – possibly Grosse Pointes grandest home? It is certainly a contender for the prize, but already faces stiff competition from its next-door neighbors 15520 Windmill Pointe – the superb home created by Alpheus W. Chittenden for John B. Ford arrived in Grosse Pointe in 1928 – you can read the full story here. And then there is 15500 Windmill Pointe, built in 1927 by Benjamin and Straight for Colonel Jesse G. Vincent this is also a contender for Grosse Pointe’s most distinctive home – click here to see why.

Renowned architectural firm Smith, Hinchman & Grylls designed 15530 Windmill Pointe in 1929 for Hal H. Smith, a partner in a leading Detroit law firm, Beaumont, Smith and Harris. As a member of the Detroit Museum of Art Founders Society, Mr. Smith was a patron of the arts, and played a pivotal role in the promotion and appreciation of art in Detroit.

Prior to working on the house at Windmill Pointe Smith, Hinchman & Grylls (SHG) already had a stellar reputation in Detroit for designing large commercial and civic projects, creating iconic buildings such as –

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Despite their work on these larger scale projects the firm of SHG were just as skilled in residential projects. According to research on Michiganmodern.org early on in the firms history, the Smith firm (as it was known prior to 1906) was adept at ‘adjusting stylistically to the preference of the client, taking inspiration and copying from architecture books to design various Classical Revival style structures’. By 1906 the firm had taken on two new partners and was subsequently renamed Smith, Hinchman & Grylls. By the end of World War I the firm had over 270 staff, and Michiganmodern.org states ‘during the 1920’s the firm stayed true to its design roots, producing classically inspired architecture throughout Metro Detroit’.*

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