Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – the Detroit News Plan Book Homes of Grosse Pointe

Last year we ran a series of blog posts on the kit homes of Grosse Pointe. Several of these homes were authenticated, while others were identified as ‘probable kit homes’ due to the lack of supporting evidence.

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.

This week we can add another chapter to our kit home story – the Detroit News Plan Book Homes – of which there are at least four (that we know of) found in Grosse Pointe. Thanks to research on the wonderful blog ‘American Kit Homes’ we are able to present the story of these four residences.

From information found of the blog we understand that ‘for many years, newspapers and other news publications sold home plans, some through their own publication, and others via a homebuilders catalogue’.

During the early 1920’s, the Detroit News sold home plans. The plans sold through this publication, other similar publications, along with the Home Builders catalogue, allowed people to purchase home plans in order to build their own home.

During the 1920’s the ‘build your own home’ market was arguably in its hey day with many companies competing in this sector – from the various publications selling home plans through to the major kit home manufacturers who had the substantial share of the market.

Many of the homes available in the home build sector bore similarities to homes sold by competing firms. The design were, after all, influenced by the architectural trends of the era, and many clients were looking to purchase homes of similar style, size and price. This particular home plan sold by the Detroit News was no exception, bearing similarities (internal and external) with several kit homes from the leading manufacturers – Sears BarringtonSears BrookwoodAladdin NewcastleAladdin Sovereign, or Wardway Maywood.’ Source: American Kit Homes.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Rivard – Part 2

Regular readers to our blog will know we recently began to explore the street of Rivard – a prominent street in Grosse Pointe whose name is associated with one of the earliest French farming families to settle in the community – The Rivard’s.

Rivard is a particularly interesting road, given the clear transition in architectural styles – from the earlier clapboard colonial homes constructed around 1918 through to the English Tudor and brick homes built after 1922.

If you travel up the street from Jefferson, it is clear the homes on the first block are very different – in terms of design – than the homes that exist beyond the second block to Mack. However, the quality of the homes does not diminish, given the caliber of the architects who were commissioned to work on this street.

Having covered some of the homes constructed from 1918 – 1922, this week we turn our attention to a range of homes built between 1924 and 1928, which, as you will see, display a broad range of design styles.

Built in 1924, number 649 was designed by architect John Senese. The 2,598 sq ft home is a symmetrical Dutch Colonial home and features clapboard on the exterior of the second floor. Traditionally, clapboards in North America were made of split oak, pine or spruce.

Very little is known about John Senese, but he did a nice job with the design of this home during an era when the Dutch Colonial style was becoming increasingly popular in Grosse Pointe.

649 Rivard

Barton Wood designed a classic English Tudor, number 699, in 1926. Having grown up and studied architecture and engineering at Stanford University, Barton Dixon Wood transferred to the University of Michigan to conclude his studies, before partnering with Samuel F. Abraham to form the firm of Abraham & wood. He lived at 695 Rivard (built in 1930), however it is not clear if and when he moved into this home or whether he designed it. Barton Wood also designed 845 Edgemont Park in 1928.

699 Rivard

695 Rivard

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Open Houses for this weekend – Sunday, May 7, 2016 1-4 p.m.:

HMA has an open house this weekend —  Sunday, May 7, 2016 1-4 p.m.:

 Jaime Rae Turbull will be holding open 2535 Hyland, Ferndale

Wonderfully maintained classic brick Tudor located in the desirable NW Ferndale on private, no outlet street. Charming features including French doors, leaded glass, 2 fireplaces, wrought iron accents, refinished hardwood floors throughout, breakfast nook in kitchen, upgraded security system, spacious remodeled master closets and completely renovated 2nd floor bath with marble counter. Well appointed finished lower level with media room, office, full bath with euro glass shower, laundry room, wrapping station and storage. Large custom fenced yard with deck, flagstone patio and irrigation.  This 2,685 sq. ft. home is listed for $375,000.

 

For more detail please visit: http://ow.ly/fyQT30bsEbH

 

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 – Rivard – Part 1

As with so many of the streets in Grosse Pointe, there is a rich, and checkered past. Many of the streets we have come to take for granted date back hundreds of years, and represent far more than just a street name.

Some of the older road names in Grosse Pointe are Rivard, Renaud, Vernier, Grand Marais, Provencal and Beaufait (to name but a few), which, you may have noticed, have a distinctly French theme to them.

During the eighteenth century the French occupied much of the farmland that was so important to the Grosse Pointe area. During this era it is believed the area was heavily wooded and swampy, however it proved to be a great area for farming. Many of the early farms generally had around 300 feet of water frontage, ran one – two miles inland, and were owned by some very familiar names (as mentioned above), that we now recognize.

One of the earliest French farmers to settle in the Grosse Pointe region was the Rivard Family. Having taken ownership of a ribbon farm in 1762 the Rivard’s were a prominent family in the community.

Shortly after moving to the area Jean Baptiste Rivard married a young woman of German descent and together they had 13 children. After the death of Jean Baptiste in 1805, two of his sons (Charles and Francois) managed the land, which was ultimately sold by Farncois’s son around 1852. According to research in the book Tonnanour – ‘The sale of the land coincided with the end of the French ribbon farm system. During this period, Wayne County began to divide into sections and the township of Grosse Pointe became independent in 1848’.

Today the Rivard name remains very prominent in the community and the street is home to many grand residences. Over the next couple of weeks we will be presenting some of these homes, starting with the earliest – constructed between 1918 and 1922.

Number 482 was completed in 1918, having been designed by the prominent firm of Stratton and Snyder. The 3,200 sq ft home is designed in a colonial architectural style with a clapboard exterior, and steeply pitched roof.

William Buck Stratton and Dalton J. V Snyder worked together between 1918-1925, and created several homes in Grosse Pointe including: 4 Woodland Place, 365 University Place, 341 Lakeland and 15366 Windmill Pointe.

482 Rivard

482 Rivard

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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 – Provencal, The Modern Marvels

This week we conclude our exploration of the homes on Provencal. Over the series we have learned just what a unique, private and special street this is, and still there is so much more to learn.

The homes on Provencal evoke a classic feel – grand designs created in classic architectural styles by some of Detroit’s leading architects. The majority of the homes we have featured thus far were completed prior to 1941 – completed during the golden years of the architectural transformation that Grosse Pointe Farms witnessed during the 1920’s.

However, post 1950 the development of Provencal has not stood still. Several of the grand homes that had been built in the 1920’s were demolished to make way for newer homes, while leading architects and contractors quickly snapped up the available lots to build modern homes for their clientele.

We use the word ‘modern’ in a loose sense. Just because a home was designed in 1950, does it need to resemble a typical home found in that era?

Where Provencal is concerned many of the latter homes, which were added to the community were designed with a sense of tradition. The respective architects have done themselves, their clients and their designs justice in terms of accommodating their new builds with the established style(s) of the existing homes.

It is the ‘modern’ homes that we turn our attention to. Lets start with a project by Milton L. Grigg, the man who brought a little bit of Thomas Jefferson to Grosse Pointe in the shape of 320 Provencal – built in 1956.

320 Provencal – Courtesy of Grosse Pointe Historical Society

Custom designed and built by Grigg, best known for his work in the field of historic preservation, it is an authentic reproduction of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the primary plantation near Charlottesville Virginia built in 1772. Based on research found at the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, the two-story house is 4,513 sq ft, with 4 bedrooms, a maid’s room and a bathhouse. The entrance to the home boasts a magnificent portico with four columns, believed to be a two thirds sized copy of the north portico found at Monticello. It is reported the front doors are mahogany, containing 480 pieces. You can read the full story of this home by clicking here.

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Buying a Home in a Sellers Market

According to reports house prices are close to what they were before the recession, while inventory is at a 15-year low, which makes it a great time to sell. But what if you are looking to buy?

Many articles offer advice on what the seller should do, but in this increasingly aggressive market place it is just as important to focus on what the buyer should do.

If you are planning on buying a home in the near future, it is imperative you have a trusted advisor to guide you through the home buying process. With homes receiving multiple offers within hours of coming onto the market having a knowledgeable REALTOR® on board now will ensure you are alerted to suitable homes, get an appointment to see the house asap, and are able to negotiate an acceptable offer.

A good REALTOR® can connect you with a Lender to get a pre-approval letter, be a resource for finding a home inspector, and other professionals needed to successfully complete your real estate transaction.

It is becoming increasing apparent that buyers who are prepared stand a far higher chance of securing their dream home. This includes:

  • Creating a picture of the type of home of you are looking for – style, location, size, wish list and budget.
  • Getting pre approved for a mortgage – something we can assist you with
  • Preparing your pre offer paperwork – sometimes it’s the quality of the offer that is more important than the amount that is bid.

There are a number of options to make your bid stand out – a larger deposit, asking for fewer contingencies, and where possible a cash bid will trump others in a multiple offer situation. Also, when viewing a home bring your checkbook for the earnest money deposit.

When buying a home in a sellers’ market prior preparation is key – we can help you through the process, from the beginning to the closing. So start now to avoid being late to the party – call our office to talk with one of our experienced team.

 

Copyright © 2017 Higbie Maxon Agney

 

 

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 – The Robert O. Derrick Homes on Provencal

Following on from our recent posts about the homes on Provencal – Number 41, Number 234 and the residences designed by Raymond Carey – we continue our review of this prestigious road with the homes designed by local architect Robert O. Derrick.

Courtesy of historicdetroit.org

Born in Buffalo, NY in 1890 Robert Ovens Derrick graduated with an architectural degree from the University of Columbia in 1917. Shortly after he arrived in the Metro Detroit area to begin what was to become a significant career in shaping the architectural scene of Grosse Pointe during the 1920’s.

Having completed his first project in the community, the ‘Little Club’ in 1923, Derrick went on to design over twenty five homes in the Grosse Pointe Communities, along with several community buildings.

Derrick lived and worked in Grosse Pointe, residing with his family at 407 Lincoln. He received many commissions by prominent businessmen in Metro Detroit who were looking to relocate their families out of the city to the increasingly popular distinguished superb of Grosse Pointe.

Arguably Derricks most productive and defining era occurred between 1923 and 1931, during which he worked in an array of architectural styles. The majority of his commissions were large residences, all of which are memorable, and still around today, including the homes he created on Provencal, which include:

  • 23 Provencal – 1924 – 4,829 sq ft
  • 248 Provencal – 1925 – 11,385 sq ft
  • 214 Provencal – 1925 – 11,767 sq ft
  • 204 Provencal – 1927 – 13,084 sq ft

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