Something of a rarity in Grosse Pointe are examples of modernist homes. They are few and far between. There are however five notable examples of contemporary architecture amongst the wonderful traditional buildings that define the architectural style of this community, there are – Koebel House (Grosse Pointe Farms) the Williams Hawkins Ferry House (Grosse Pointe Shores); the Louis Rossetti House (Grosse Pointe Park); the William Kessler House (Grosse Pointe Park), and the Frank & Anne Parcells House (Grosse Pointe Farms).
Featuring an abundance of modernist design ideas the first of these innovative homes to grace Grosse Pointe was Koebel House, designed by internationally acclaimed Eliel and Eero Saarinen. Built in 1937, it was arguably the first modernist house in the community. Next came the Louis Rossetti in 1940, the William Kessler House in 1959, followed by another Kessler Design for William Hawkins Ferry in 1964, while international renowned architect Paul Rudolph completed the quintet in 1970 with the Frank & Anne Parcells House.
Amongst these modern homes, the William Kessler House is a prized find. Located at 1013 Cadieux Road, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.
William Kessler was a talented designer. Having graduated from the Chicago Institute of Design in 1948 he went on to study at Harvard with Walter Gropius, the world famous German architect and founder of the Bauhaus. It is reported Gropius asked Kessler, upon graduation, to stay on as an instructor, which he did for a year. After leaving Harvard Kessler was hired by the firm of Minoru Yamasaki – who is best known for designing the World Trade Center and the Michigan Gas Building – and moved to Michigan to join the company.
Having worked at the firm for around five of years, Kessler decided to set up his own practice with Phil Meathe (who also worked for Yamasaki) – Meathe, Kessler and Associates. The firm was quickly recognized for its innovative, modern designs and the two men worked together until 1968.*
Examples of Kessler buildings in Michigan: