Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Sublime Homes On Ridge Road

Having recently explored the early 20th century cottages on St Clair Avenue, this week we focus on the imposing 1920’s constructions on Ridge Road.

Ridge Road, in Grosse Pointe Farms, is one of the communities more distinctive streets, running through the heart of the Farms.

Based on research by the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, we understand, in 1885, most of the land between Ridge and Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Farms, was a heavily wooded swamp that extended several miles north and south. The land near Ridge was also used for farming purposes. The nuns at the Grosse Pointe Academy (known as the Sacred Heart Academy in that era) owned the land from the convent, via Kenwood, all the way to Ridge Road, and used much of it for farming.

Fast forward 30 years and the 1920’s in Grosse Pointe Farms were a time of change, prosperity, and architectural transformation. It was a golden era for the area in terms of growth.

The following homes are a handful of properties we have selected to feature. Many noted architects who had a substantial reputation, both locally and in some cases nationally, were commissioned to design them.

Number 175 – Burrowes and Eurich – 1922
The duo of Marcus Burrowes and Frank Eurich created their firm in 1920, and together they designed around 10 homes in Grosse Pointe. During this era Burrowes was widely known throughout southeast Michigan for his English Tudor Revival Style homes, however his 6,0101 sq ft house on Ridge was more in keeping with a stately Georgian Colonial approach. It features superb architectural detailing inside and out.

175 Ridge Road

Number 174 – Robert O’Derrick – 1923
Designed by one of the most prominent architects in Grosse Pointe, this 4,018 sq ft displays one of the most popular architectural styles in Grosse Pointe Farms during this era – a large, symmetrical brick built Colonial home.

174 Ridge Road – Courtesy of Google.com

This was O’Derrick’s signature style. He designed over 25 homes throughout the Grosse Pointe communities, along with the ‘Little Club’ and the Grosse Pointe Farms water filtration and pumping station. You can read his full story here.

Number 166 – D. Allen Wright – 1927
D. Allen Wright designed at least 15 houses (that we know of) in Grosse Pointe. Many of these residences are large French inspired homes, which include this house 4,945 sq ft house on Ridge.

166 Ridge Road

Wright’s designs, between 1926 and 1930, were based on French architectural styles, typically French Normandy and Provencal. The French Normandy country house was the primary inspiration for the American Norman style. It began to become popular shortly after the First World War when French chateaus were a model of inspiration. Typical traits of this approach include a round stone tower toped by a conical cone-shaped roof, a steeply pitched roof, stone façade, an arched opening to the main entrance, tall narrow chimneys along with an asymmetrical configuration to the home.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to St Clair Avenue – Part 2

Last week we explored several homes on St. Clair Avenue, Part 1 – the early cottages that were constructed at the beginning of the 20th century.

This week we continue our exploration of more homes on the street, along with sharing a brief history of one of Grosse Pointe’s oldest schools.

The homes we have chosen to profile this week continue with the them of the first post – in that they were built between 1900 – 1916, and display characteristics of Colonial, Craftsman and Victorian architectural styles.

However, lets start with one of Grosse Pointe’s oldest schools – located at 389-399 St. Clair Avenue. The Cadieux School – now referred to as the Grosse Pointe Schools Administrative Buildings – was built in 1905-1906, by the renowned architectural firm of Stratton and Baldwin. Based on research by Grosse Pointe Historical Society, the school was named the Cadieux School after the Cadieux family who resided in the Village. Francis Cadieux served as the District No. 1 School Inspector for 33 years.

It was the second school building to be built around this era for the Grosse Pointe School’s (District #1). The original two-story building was home to eight classrooms, and around 240 pupils. In 1916-18, a north building, 399 St Clair, was added for the school to increase its capacity. By 1924 the two buildings catered for students of all ages, from kindergarten through to twelfth grade.

Over the years the buildings have undergone numerous updates and renovations. Between 2002-2003 the buildings underwent major changes, which included fully connecting the two sections. Source: Grosse Pointe Historical Society.

Of the handful of schools built in this era only two original buildings remain – the Cook School on Mack and the Cadieux School on St. Clair.

It wasn’t just the school that was being constructed at the turn of the twentieth century; more homes were also being built. Prior to 1905 five of the oldest homes on the street had been completed – numbers 475, 469, 569 were built in 1901, while 479 and 547 were constructed in 1903.

469 St Clair Avenue – Courtesy of Google.com

547 St Clair Avenue – Courtesy of Google.com

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HMA has an open house this weekend – Sunday, November 5, 2017 2-4 p.m.:

HMA has an open house this weekend – Sunday, November 5, 2017 2-4 p.m.:

Robert Lucas will be holding open 525 Saddle Lane, Grosse Pointe Woods

 

Beautiful, well maintained four bedroom, two and a half bath colonial on a quiet cul-de-sac. Master bedroom has an updated bath and walk-in closet. First floor and basement lavs have also been updated. House features large, spacious rooms with hardwood floors throughout. Large kitchen w/ granite counters and eating area. Family room has parquet floors and gas fireplace. Backyard has lovely gardens and backs up to Provencal. House has newer roof.

For more detail please visit: http://ow.ly/PKvt30gj41M

 

We look forward to seeing you!

 

For a full list of this weekend’s Open House’s visit: http://ow.ly/EelG30fwcld

 

 

 

 

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to St Clair Avenue – Part 1

There are so many wonderful and interesting streets in Grosse Pointe, we have already shared the stories of several of them – Vendome, Kenwood, Middlesex, Harbor Hill and Bishop to name but a few.

This week we turn our attention to the first block of St Clair Avenue, in Grosse Pointe City. Whilst many of the properties found in Grosse Pointe during this era were ‘turn of the century’ summer cottages’ located on the lake, the homes on St Clair were created to be year round residences.

As you journey up St Clair, from Jefferson, you will notice the design of many of these homes are unique to this road. The majority were constructed at the beginning of the 20th century, and a number of the residences were created as workers cottages. Very few streets in Grosse Pointes demonstrate this architectural style, and what makes this road even more special is that many of the homes are still the original creations from this era.

With so many homes to explore we will start with a number of homes on the first block – off Jefferson – before investigating more next week.

St Clair Ave, in the late 1800’s, was one of the routes used by the streetcars of the Grosse Pointe Electric Railway. The original line ran from East Jefferson Avenue in Detroit to Cadillac to Mack, along Mack to St. Clair Avenue. It was instrumental in the development of Grosse Pointe during his era, providing a vital connection to Detroit. By 1898 a new service, the Detroit, Lake Shore, and Mount Clemens Railway, known as the Interurban, ran down Grosse Pointe Blvd to Provincial, and ultimately onto Mount Clemens. Source: Grosse Pointe Historical Society.

Many of the homes on St Clair are constructed from wood, and designed in either an early Colonial approach, Victorian or are loosely based on the craftsman style. Most of the residences are around 2,000 sq ft. The Craftsmen style great influenced small house design at the beginning of the twentieth century, providing an overall effect that has been described as natural, warm, and livable.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Work of Harold Beckett and William Akitt

Having recently focused on the modernist work of Alexander Girard we turn our attention to the more traditional styling’s from the firm of Harold C. Beckett and William R. Akitt.

The firm of Beckitt and Akitt practiced in Detroit from 1920 until 1934. The firm primarily specialized in designing large residences in Michigan, including Metro Detroit, and at least six homes in Grosse Pointe.

Harold Beckett was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1890. Having moved to Toronto in 1910 he worked as an assistant at the architectural firm of Wickson and Gregg. In 1912 Beckett moved to New York City to study architecture at Columbia University, graduating in 1915. After serving in Europe with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces during WW1 Beckett relocated to Windsor, Ontario. From there he commuted daily to Detroit, and established a firm, in 1920, with local Detroit based architect William Akitt. Together they designed many wonderful Tudor Revival inspired projects. This included the grand H. F Harper mansion in Lansing, 1929. The 35-room home is Lansing’s biggest mansion. Around the same time, they completed a superb residence in Jackson, MI for C. M. Day, along with completing a substantial parish house, which was added to the Iroquois Avenue Christ Lutheran Church, located at 2411 Iroquois Avenue Detroit. It is believed the cost to design and build the parish house cost close to $100,000 (around $1.4 million today).

Harper Mansion – Image courtesy of – lansingcitypulse.com

Day Mansion – Image courtesy of Pinterest

Between 1939-42 Beckett had his own practice in Detroit. He then briefly joined Detroit’s largest architectural firm of that era – Smith, Hinchman and Grylls, before returning to Windsor, Ontario to establish his own practice until his retirement in 1962.

The firms’ work in Grosse Pointe centered on the late 1920’s. They created some wonderful residences, in a myriad of architectural styles, across several of the Grosse Pointe communities. The architectural style of the homes they designed here – Mediterranean, Colonial and English Tudor – were extremely popular throughout Grosse Pointe during this era, and their work fitted seamlessly into the quickly expanding communities.

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HMA has an open house this weekend – Sunday, October 22, 2017 2-4 p.m.:

HMA has an open house this weekend – Sunday, October 22, 2017 2-4 p.m.

Melissa Singh will be holding open 762 Bedford, Grosse Pointe Park

Lots of architectural detail in this Mediterranean style home located just off Windmill Pointe Drive! Two story living room with interior balcony! Updated kitchen! Updated master bath! Updated windows! Newer roof!  This 3,100 sq. ft. home is listed for $399,900.

 

For more detail please visit: http://ow.ly/ftTP30fwc5B

 

We look forward to seeing you!

 

For a full list of this weekend’s Open House’s visit: http://ow.ly/EelG30fwcld

 

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Grosse Pointe Projects of Alexander Girard

Last week we covered the exceptional home, 232 Lothrop, created by the extremely talented artist Alexander Girard.

Described as one of the most important, prolific and influential textile designers of the twentieth century, Girard was also extremely skilled as an architect, interior, product, and graphic designer.

Alexander Girard (early 1950’s) – Courtesy of Vitra Design Museum

This week we focus on Girard’s other architectural projects in Grosse Pointe. Aside from designing the modern contemporary home located at 232 Lothrop (1951), Girard also created two further homes on Lothrop – number 222 (1948) and 234 (1949), along with 55 Vendome in 1951. All of his projects were created in his signature contemporary modern style, which was particularly prominent throughout the United States during this era.

Having re located in 1937, with his family, from New York to Detroit, Girard began the next phase of his career. In 1938 Girard designed the Junior League of Detroit’s Little Shop in Grosse Pointe. Shortly after, in partnership with H. Beard Adams, he opened his first store, located at 16906 Kercheval. The firm of Girard and Adam’s specialized in interior architecture, design and decoration.

Courtesy of – Alexander Girard, A Designer’s Universe.

In 1945 Girard utilized the former space he had held with Adams to open his own studio and store, to sell products, and stage small exhibitions of painting, sculpture and jewelry. In 1947 Girard relocated his shop to 379 Fisher Road. The new location provided Girard with a building to not only sell products, but also incorporate an office, and a space to showcase his irrepressible talent – offering, “complete architectural and design services for home, office and industrial fields”. Source: Alexander Girard, A Designer’s Universe.

379 Fisher – Courtesy of Alexander Girard, A Designer’s Universe.

379 Fisher Floor Plan – Courtesy of Alexander Girard, A Designer’s Universe.

Girard worked with many wealthy and celebrity clients in Metro Detroit, decorating and designing the interiors of their homes. This included several projects in Grosse Pointe:

222 Lothrop. Completed in 1948, this was Girard’s own home. It was located on a large lot close to the Pine Woods, a heavily wooded area in Grosse Pointe Farms. Based on research from the Vitra Design Museum we understand Girard created his new residence out of two old houses. Constructed from California redwood, the home featured innovative lighting solutions, plywood furniture designed by Girard as well as first samples of wall displays that would become a constant feature of his interiors. Source: Vitra Design Museum

As the floor plan below demonstrates the first floor was an open configuration, dominated by a large central living area – a typical feature of homes designed using this architectural approach. At some point in the homes history the house was raised – the floor plan and the photo below are from 1969.

The image below presents a superb representation of the interior of this home. Source: Atlas of Interiors

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – 232 Lothrop – An Exceptional Home

This is the story of an exceptional home in Grosse Pointe Farms. Some of you might remember this work of art, while for others this will be an introduction to a modern contemporary masterpiece.

232 Lothrop was built in 1951, but was razed several years ago. This one of a kind home was commissioned by Dr. George Rieveschl, a research chemist, and was the product of two masters of modern architecture. Alexander Girard designed the original home, while William Kessler extensively remodeled the property in 1959 (at a reported cost of $250,000 – around $2million today).

Situated on a secluded wooded ridge of over one and a half acres the residence was located on the highest point of land in Grosse Pointe Farms on a magnificent pine shaded site. Each room had its own view of the woods and gardens, filled with over 360 trees – the majority were towering pines and hemlocks.

Front of the home

As with many contemporary residences, the design of the home was based on clean lines, and a substantial amount filing every room. In the case of 232 Lothrop, this was achieved via the large 12’ ft high Thermopane window walls, patios, and the five skylights that were located throughout the property.

Rear of the home

Atrium looking west

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Hidden Homes on Lake Shore – Part 2

Last week we introduced you to some of the hidden homes on the lake in Grosse Pointe Shores. Many of these homes, constructed between 1900 and 1918, are concealed from the road, and their elegance remains hidden. The construction of these homes spans many years, and we would like to continue with our exploration with the introduction of several more superb properties constructed between 1923 and 1934.

Grosse Pointe Shores has undergone a number of transitions over the years, in terms of growth, population, and being recognized as a community in its own right. By the 1920’s Grosse Pointe Shores was establishing itself as a haven for some of Detroit’s wealthiest families. The area had witnessed the construction of numerous grand homes, with many having been designed by nationally renowned architects, including the Ford Estate by Albert Kahn. Located on the site known as Gaukler Pointe (where the Milk River flowers into Lake St. Clair.) the Ford Estate was completed in 1927, and was the pinnacle of exquisite design and fine landscaping.

The 1920’s was the era of large lots and grand residences in the Grosse Pointe communities, none more so than in Grosse Pointe Shores, reflected in the following estates:

725 Lake Shore: Situated on a 12-acre estate – completed in 1934 – designed by Robert O’Derrick in association with Ralph Adams Cram.
This magnificent estate built for Standish Backus was as grand as they come. Aside from being a prime example of a Tudor mansion, this property was also noted for its exquisite gardens, designed by nationally recognized landscape designer Fletcher Steele.

725 Lake Shore – Courtesy of Grosse Pointe Historical Society

No expense was spared in creating the 40-room residence; the house was finished with beautiful wood paneling, fine mantels and friezes. The home also featured an 8-car garage with electric doors, a telephone system to connect all the rooms, and a walk-in vault to protect the families silver service. The house was demolished in 1966. You can read the full story about this home by clicking here.

735 Lake Shore: Size unknown – completed in 1930 – designed by Albert Kahn.
In 1930, Alvan Macauley, president of Packard, commissioned Kahn to create a grand home on Lake Shore. Kahn incorporated many traits of the traditional English Cotswold style, and combined it with the recognized traits of the distinctive Tudor manor homes, which were now extremely popular around Grosse Pointe. The house was demolished in 1973. You can read the full story about this home by clicking here.

735 Lake Shore

735 Lake Shore – 1st floor

735 Lake Shore – 2nd floor

890 Lake Shore: 5,215 sq ft – completed in 1934 – built by Hilary Micou.
Micou was a prolific builder of homes in Grosse Pointe with over 30 homes to his name. Many of his properties span several decades – from the late 1920’s through to the late 1950’s, and embrace numerous architectural styles.

890 Lake Shore

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HMA has an open house this weekend – Sunday, October 1, 2017 2-4 p.m.:

HMA has an open house this weekend – Sunday, October 1, 2017 2-4 p.m.

Melissa Singh will be holding open 762 Bedford, Grosse Pointe Park

Lots of architectural detail in this Mediterranean style home located just off Windmill Pointe Drive! Two story living room with interior balcony! Updated kitchen! Updated master bath! Updated windows! Newer roof!  This 3,100 sq. ft. home is listed for $399,900.

 

For more detail please visit: http://ow.ly/ftTP30fwc5B

 

We look forward to seeing you!

 

For a full list of this weekend’s Open House’s visit: http://ow.ly/EelG30fwcld