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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Lost Estates – 431 Lakeshore

Over the past few weeks we have been delving into the history of several lost estates on Lakeshore. These have included the bygone properties of T. P Hall, Scott Whitcomb, Roy Chapin, William P. Stevens, and Richard Webber.

This week we return to the William P. Stevens estate – 431 Lakeshore – for a more in-depth review of this grand home.

Built in 1914 the home was reportedly designed by leading Detroit architectural firm Smith Hinchman and Grylls. Located back from the road, and originally accessible from Kercheval, it was a magnificent Georgian Revival brick home – an architectural approach that was extremely popular during this era, particularly in the larger estates that were being built in Grosse Pointe Farms.

431 Lakeshore – 1954

When the house was first built it featured a symmetrical center portion with prominent entry features on both the lakeside as well as the driveway side. Georgian Revival homes typically feature a prominent entrance, accompanied by Doric fluted columns. Once through the main door the floor plan is typically dominated by a long center hall/foyer that extends through the house. In the case of 431 Lakeshore (as depicted in the floor plan below –from 1977) the impressive 14’ x 34’ sq ft foyer is the central feature of the home, along with a grand stairway. From the foyer three large rooms have a magnificent view of the lake – the grand 21’ x 35’ sq ft living room, the 18’ x 26’ sq ft library, and the 18’ x 23’ sq ft dining room.

431 Lakeshore – 1st Floor

Based on a document from the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, the interior décor was extremely modest. However, the house did boast all the modern conveniences available in 1914, including ample bathrooms and storage areas.

The floor plan below (from 1977) presents the second floor, featuring five large bedrooms, a sun deck, a large 18’ x 19’ sq ft sitting room (complete with bar), and a 12’ x 15’ sq ft drawing room. The main landing of the stairway, on the second floor, incorporated a large Palladian style window, centrally located over the driveway side entrance. Source: Grosse Pointe Historical Society.

The third floor included an additional three bedrooms (for maids), along with an 18’ x 19’ sq ft hobby room, and a large 23’ x 23’ play room.

431 Lakeshore – 2nd Floor

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Lost Estates – Part 2

Last week we featured the Whitcomb Estate, a fascinating story that began life as the Theodore Parsons Hall estate and now exists as the Cracchiolo residence.

Given the extensive changes to Lakeshore, and its estates over the years we decided to continue with our exploration of some of these exceptional properties. This week, in part two, we investigate the large estate(s) close to the former Whitcomb residence – the bygone Roy Chappin, William P. Stevens, and Richard Webber properties. All of which have been razed over time, and have been replaced in one-way shape or form.

So lets start with 431 Lakeshore. Built in 1914 it was reportedly designed, by leading Detroit architectural firm Smith Hinchman and Grylls for William P. Stevens. It was a magnificent Georgian Revival home constructed from brick. The Georgian approach was extremely sought after during this era, particularly in the larger estates that were being built in Grosse Pointe Farms.

431 Lakeshore

431 Lakeshore – 1954

Mr. Stevens worked with his father in real estate development, and spent a lifetime developing Highland Park and other industrial centers. He also served a term on the old Detroit Board of Estimates, and was a councilman at Grosse Pointe Farms for several years.

The house was demolished in 1984 due to structural problems, and ongoing maintenance issues. Source: Information held at the Grosse Pointe Historical Society.

In 1925 the Detroit firm of J. Martin Brown, Robert O. Derrick and Martin Preston completed 437 Lakeshore for Richard H. Webber, nephew of Joseph L. Hudson (Richard H. Webber became head of J.L. Hudson’s upon his uncle’s death).

It was an impressive 5,641 sq ft home, designed in a traditional Tudor style (popular throughout the Grosse Pointe communities) constructed of stone, with limestone detailing around the windows. The three-story home featured superb detailing throughout that you would expect to find in a house of this grandeur. The first floor contained several rooms with natural fireplaces – the morning room, living room, and the library. The second floor included a master suite, complete with sitting room, along with four additional bedrooms and three bedrooms for maids. The third floor featured two bedrooms, two further bedrooms for maids along with a ballroom with a natural fireplace. Sadly we were unable to find any interior photo’s of this stunning residence.

437 Lakeshore – Courtesy of Detroityes.com

It was demolished in 1984, and the property was redeveloped, along with the former Chapin residence, to create the Windemere Place Condominium’s.

Robert O. Derrick, was one of Grosse Pointe’s most noted architects. In 1921 he held the title of Vice-President at the firm of Brown, Derrick and Preston, before going on to complete many solo projects throughout the community. You can read the full story about Robert O. Derrick by clicking here.

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