Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Provencal, The Private Street

Provencal Road in Grosse Pointe Farms is in every sense of the word ‘private’. A private street, with private homes, and with so little information available the history of many of the houses remains private.

Over the past few weeks we have gathered as much information as we could possibly find on this unique street. We know one home was moved from Indian Village to its current location on the first block of Provencal, and then there is the large Tudor residence reminiscent of an English Country Estate. We have found five homes created by English architect Raymond Carey, the four homes created by prominent local architect Robert O. Derrick, along with the three houses by distinguished designer Hugh T. Keyes.

This week we explore six homes on this private street that were designed by a selection of prominent architects’ between 1926 and 1941. The majority of the residences were created by noted Detroit based artists, while one home was the work of a nationally recognized designer John Russell Pope – one of only two of his projects found in the community.

Lets start with 44 Provencal. Commissioned by William C. Rooney in 1926, the 3,636 sq ft traditional Colonial brick house was created by J. Ivan Dise and Clair William Ditchy – one of three collaborative projects in Grosse Pointe by the Detroit based architects.

44 Provencal

Built in 1927 330 Provencal was designed by Henry F. Stanton – a diverse designer, faculty member of University of Michigan and master of exquisite brickwork.

330 Provencal

The large 8,625 sq ft brick property displays many of the typical characteristics often found in Stanton’s work – detailed brickwork, massive brick chimneys, an elaborate front entrance – in this instance carved limestone scrolls – along with a steep slate roof. (You can view more of his Grosse Pointe projects by clicking here).

Limestone scrolls – Courtesy of realtor.com

The interior features extensive woodwork, including a wood paneled library, heavy beams and paneling above the fireplace in the living room, along with a superb main staircase and large main hall framed with wide, carved oak trim and arches.

Extensive Woodwork – Courtesy of realtor.com

The home also features an abundance of decorative plaster trim, six fireplaces (four on the first floor, and two on the second), along with a 1,300 sq ft carriage house over the three-car garage.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Hugh T. Keyes Homes on Provencal

Regular readers of our blog will know that we have recently been focusing our attention on the superb homes on Provencal. So far we have profiled – Number 41, Number 234 the residences designed by Raymond Carey and the homes created by Robert O. Derrick.

This week we continue with our exploration with a review of the work by another prolific Grosse Pointe architect – Hugh T. Keyes.

Hugh T. Keyes – Courtesy of Wikepedia

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.

Born in Trenton, MI in 1888, Keyes 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 serving with the Navy during World War 1, Keyes returned to Michigan. He briefly worked at Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, before opening 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.

Throughout out his career Keyes built many significant houses in Grosse Pointe with the majority located in the Farms, including three homes on Provencal:

  • 34 Provencal – 1912 – 8,162 sq ft
  • 260 Provencal – 1927
  • 344 Provencal – 1929 – 8,496 sq ft

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – 234 Provencal

We recently presented the homes Raymond Carey designed on Provencal, Grosse Pointe Farms. The spectacular residences he created on this prestigious street vary dramatically in size, ranging from the 6,779 sq ft located at 380 Provencal through to one of Grosse Pointes largest homes – 194 Provencal which is 12,185 sq ft in size.

Raymond Carey was no stranger to grand homes. Having grown up and studied architecture in England Carey was surround by the substantial town and country estates that were part of the scenery in his hometown of Bath.

In 1909 Carey left England and arrived in Winnipeg, Canada. Having worked as an architect in both Canada and for a short time in San Francisco Carey moved to Detroit in 1921-22 to open his own practice. According to research from http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/ Carey, in 1924, teamed up with Horace H. Esselstyn, an Engineer in Detroit *. Their firm Carey & Esselstyn was active from 1924 to 1929, and during this period ‘Carey produced some of the most distinctive and sumptuous residential masterpieces of his career’.

Many of the homes Carey designed in Grosse Pointe were created during this period, with the majority in his signature neo-Georgian and Tudor Revival approach.

At its height of popularity in the 1920’s, Tudor Revival residences required skill by the architect to reproduce the typical characteristics in the right proportions to display the charm associated with this style. Given Carey’s skill in this approach, and the homes he was surrounded by growing up as a child, it is not surprising this style was particularly influential in the large English Country inspired residence located at 234 Provencal.

Courtesy of the Grosse Pointe Historical Society

The home, built in 1929, is approximately 8,122 square feet and is situated on a 100’ x 560’ lot. It is constructed from solid stone with a slate roof, and has exquisite detailing across the exterior.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Raymond Carey Homes on Provencal

Born in England in 1883 Raymond Carey was a prominent architect in Grosse Pointe Farms. He designed many luxurious homes during the 1920’s – 1930’s, an era of substantial growth in the community.

Having grown up and studied architecture in Bath, England, Carey had been surrounded by some of the finest Georgian residences in the world. This level of inspiration influenced much of Carey’s work, particularly here in Grosse Pointe.

Raymond Carey arrived in Winnipeg, Canada at the beginning of the 20th Century. By the early 1920’s Carey had relocated to Detroit. He had become a key figure in creating fine Georgian style homes, and his work had become extremely sought after.

Throughout Grosse Pointe the 1920’s were a golden era for Georgian design. Carey created at least 15 homes in the community (that we know of), including several prestigious homes on Provencal, along with the Cottage Hospital Nurse’s House, in 1929, located at 150 Ridge Road.

Carey was particularly adept to designing large homes, which is certainly evident in the homes he created on Provencal, which includes:

  • 338 Provencal – 1928 – 10,304 sq ft
  • 380 Provencal – 1929 – 6,779 sq ft
  • 234 Provencal – 1929 – 8,122 sq ft
  • 390 Provencal – 1931 – 10,000 sq ft
  • 194 Provencal 1931 – 12,185 sq ft

Lets start with the largest of his Provencal projects – number 194.

194 Provencal was built, in 1931, for Earl Holley, former chairman of the Holley Carburetor Company of Detroit. The 12,185 sq ft home has particularly handsome detailing including Corinthian pilasters; a columned entrance flanked by two large curved bow windows. It is a fantastic example of Georgian architecture and at 12,185 sq ft it is one of the largest homes in Grosse Pointe.

194 Provencal – courtesy of Detroityes.com

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to the World of Richard E. Raseman

Welcome to the world of Richard E. Raseman – by no means a prolific architect in Grosse Pointe but possibly one of Detroit’s earliest acknowledged designers.

Born in Germany in 1855, Richard E. Raseman became a recognized architect in Detroit in 1883. He primarily specialized in industrial design and designed several breweries in Detroit, along with the original Eison Illuminating Company (now demolished and replicated at Greenfield Village).

At the beginning of his career, in 1885, Raseman formed a partnership with fellow German Julius Hess – a well-known architect in Detroit whose style centered on a medieval approach. Their collaboration ended in 1891, and both architects continued to work under their own names (Hess died in 1899).

Noted for his use of heavy stone and Richardson Romanesque inspired approach, Raseman continued to establish a name for himself in the city, having successfully completed, in1895, the superb Beaux Arts inspired design for the Harmonie Club, East Grand Avenue. Raseman, in association with Hess, also created the unique and instantly recognizable Grand Army of the Republic building in 1899 (located at 1942 West Grand River Avenue), the Metropol Building (1898), the Cary Building (1906), and the Hemmeter Building (1911)

GAR Building – Courtesy of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Army_of_the_Republic_Building

In 1914 Raseman arrived in Grosse Pointe for his first residential project in the community – located at 44 Beverly Road. It is an immense 7,100 sq ft home designed in a Spanish architectural style. It was commissioned by William Cornelius Crowley; a director at the Detroit based Crowley-Milner Company – a wholesale dry goods business.

Mr. Crowley resided in the home until his death in 1928. Eddie Rickenbaker – the World War 1 ‘Ace of Aces’, then purchased the house, and lived there for one year. John Dryden, director and president of the Borg-Warner Company, subsequently purchased it.

The image below from a 1916 edition of the Western Architect depicts the home superbly.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Homes with International Style

International Style is an important architectural movement that began to gain popularity during the 1920’s and 1930’s. The term “International Style” first came into play via a 1932 exhibition organized by American architects Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson – ‘Modern Architecture: International Exhibition’, which declared and labeled the architecture of the early 20th century as the “International Style“. Source: Wikipedia

The International Style began to gather pace in the US at the beginning of the 1930’s. Many US cities on the East Coast began to construct skyscrapers – lead by pioneering architects in this moment such as Philip Johnson – whilst ground breaking residential projects were being created by Frank Lloyd Wright and Eliel Saarinen to name but a few.

Based on research from Wikipedia the most common characteristics of International Style buildings are said to be: rectilinear forms; light, open interior spaces, and taut plane surfaces that have been completely stripped of applied ornamentation and decoration.

Here in Grosse Pointe, during the 1930’s, several international style projects had begun to appear in the community including: 766 Westchester, 888 Pemberton (by Alden Dow), and 641 Oxford, 705 Pemberton (by Lyle Zisler).

766 Westchester

888 Pemberton

641 Oxford

705 Pemberton

Louis Rossetti, in conjunction with Raymond Giffels & Victor Vallet, created several international style homes in the community during this era, including – 10 Provencal, 780 Grand Marais, 1119 Harvard, and his own home located at 1145 Balfour (in 1945).

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Moving With The Times – 41 Provencal

In the late nineteenth century an international movement of decorative and fine arts had begun in Britain. Known as the Arts and Crafts movement it stood for traditional craftsmanship using simple forms whilst harnessing natural materials. The Arts and Crafts movement flourished in Europe and North America between 1880 and 1910, heavily influencing art and architecture.

The first Arts and Crafts Society in the United States was established in Boston in 1897. In 1906 a similar society was formed in Detroit, believed to be the second such organization in the United States. At the time many of the leading architects in Detroit were huge advocates of the movement including William Buck Stratton and Albert Kahn who was one of the original-founding members of the society.

Both Stratton and Kahn were huge exponents of the Arts and Crafts movement in the City, regularly employing key components of the style into their residential projects. As part of the dedication to the societies expansion Stratton helped organize the first and second annual exhibitions of arts and crafts – held at the Detroit Museum of Art in 1904 and 1905. By 1916 the organization became the first Arts and Crafts society in the US to construct its own building. Source: www.detroit1701.org

In 1906 Albert Kahn was commissioned by Lewis H. Jones to design a large mansion in Indian Village – located at 8191 East Jefferson Avenue. Lewis H. Jones was president of the Detroit Copper and Brass Rolling Mills Company, along with being an active official in many other large manufacturing projects and organizations throughout the City.

The design of the home Albert Kahn conceived for Lewis Jones was one of grandeur. It encompassed a classic Tudor Revival style along with keeping the spirit of the Arts and Crafts Movement throughout.

The home at its 8191 East Jefferson Avenue location –  Courtesy of detroityes.com

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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 2

Last week we told the story of the authenticated kit homes in Grosse Pointe. We already knew about the existence of a kit home in the community – 849 Notre Dame, and thanks to a superb blog ‘American Kit Homes’ we were alerted to an additional authenticated kit home – 1100 Bishop, along with several “probable” kit homes that exist in the 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.

It is these “probable” kit homes we now turn our attention to in parts 2 and 3 of the Kit Home series.

Identifying Kit Homes
The majority of the kit homes found in North America were constructed using large amounts of lumber. ‘Every separate piece of lumber was stamped (using numbers and letters), shipped, and cut to fit its particular place in the house.’ Source: Wikipedia. This eliminated the need for measuring and cutting the wood on site, thus reducing construction time.

The stamped lumber can be used as a potential source of authentication to identify many of the kit homes constructed prior to 1930. ‘It is most easily found in unfinished spaces like a basement or attic, framing members were stamped with a letter and a number. However, prior to 1916 many companies, such as Sears Modern Homes, did not stamp the lumber that was shipped Source: Wikipedia.

Another clue is matching the style of the houses to the product pages in the catalogues issued by the manufacturing companies. It is this method; based on research found on ‘American Kit Homes’, which also includes additional research by Ben Gravel, that allows us to share these potential Sears Modern Homes with you –

Sears Modern Homes
Sears Catalogue Homes (sold under the Sears Modern Homes name) were introduced in 1908 and sold through the company’s mail order catalogue until 1942. The Sears Catalogue, through which the homes could be purchased, offered 370 different models in various architectural styles.

Because Sear’s mail-order catalogs were sent to millions of homes, large numbers of potential homeowners were able to open a catalog, see numerous house designs, and visualize their very own ‘Modern Home’.

It is believed there are over 400 Sears Kit homes in Michigan, with the majority located in the Southeastern area of the state. Source: Kit House Hunters 

Image courtesy of: www.searshomes.org

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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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