Having profiled the work of architect Leonard B. Willeke, and the highs and lows of his career, we wanted to conclude our research on this superb architect by profiling the two homes he created for himself – 1100 Berkshire and 1142 Bishop.
The year is 1922 and Willeke is in the midst of completing his initial design for the Oscar Webber mansion (to be located at 22 Webber place). Willeke’s career is soaring; having designed many beautiful creations for his clients Willeke turns his attention to creating a new home for himself and his wife Leona at 1100 Berkshire, Grosse Pointe Park.
The couple, along with their three-year-old son, had previously resided in an apartment located on Elmhurst Avenue, before moving, in 1920, to a new home he had designed on Moss Street, Highland Park. A couple of years after moving in Willeke’s career and income was such that he decided to build a larger residence for himself in Grosse Pointe Park. The decision, it is believed, not only made practical sense from a personal point of view, but also business sense – it would put him closer to the lots he had recently purchased on Balfour to create several speculative homes. (Between 1922 and 1929, he created 7 residences on Balfour that included 4 speculative homes).
Willeke referred to the design of his new home as ‘Modern English’. The floor plan has a U-shaped configuration, which not only made it compact and convenient but also provided light and excellent air circulation throughout the house. Research from Thomas Brunk’s book ‘Leonard B. Willeke, Excellence in Architecture and Design’ states ‘Willeke designed the home with two main entrances – one at the front and the second at the side, each with direct access to the library’.
The research continues to describe the 2,974 sq ft home as having a mahogany paneled library, which served as Willeke’s consultation room. ‘The first floor features two levels. The lower level contains the vestibule, main hall, library and the living room, while the dining room, breakfast room, kitchen and living porch are raised (by one foot) and are situated along the back of the house’.