Having focused the last couple of blog posts on nationally recognized architects – Bloodgood Tuttle and Harrie T. Lindeberg – and their rare projects in Grosse Pointe, we now turn our attention to one of the oldest homes in the community 980 Lake Shore.
The origins of this property can be traced back as far as 1808. According to research by the Grosse Pointe Historical Society the patent title for the property was given to the French “Habitant” family of Julien Forton at the beginning of the 19th century.
The original property was a large farm bordered by Lake St. Clair, Mack Avenue and the Macomb County (Milk River) line. It is believed the landowner; Mr. Forton then deeded part of property to his daughter Monique and her husband. Several years later, in 1848, the couple sold a potion of the land to Pauline Van Antwerp, who, in 1849, built a permanent property on the land. Source: Grosse Pointe Historical Society.
In 1910 parts of the land, from the large farm, were sold. The new owner, Frank Biscoe, built an Arts & Crafts inspired motor garage and apartment on the property. In 1914 the property was sold again, the new owners, William and Lois Mertz, would reside there until 1953, when they decided to the divide the property. The Mertz’s sold the main house (980 Lake Shore) and moved into the original Biscoe home – the “Carriage House”, now recognized as 976 Lake Shore.
Fast forward to 2018, and part of the original home, from 1849, still exists on the lot. The remaining part of the structure, we understand, makes up the middle section of the existing structure – 980 Lake Shore. This would possibly make this home the oldest clapboard house in Grosse Pointe to be still on its original foundation. Understandable throughout the course of history the original construction has undergone significant changes, as has the immense 3.76-acre lot on the shore of Lake St. Clair that surrounds both buildings.
The main building, 980 Lake Shore, has witnessed some major changes, and has been sold a number of times. Extensive renovations, took place in 1953 and 1973. The floor plans below provide us with a visual explanation as to how the home has changed over the course of around 20 years. The first floor plan (of both the first and second floors), shows the layout in 1972, while the second is from 1979 – after the extensive alterations were completed. The center of the home, believed to be the original middle section from 1849 remains the same configuration with the large (14’ x 19.7’ sq ft) dining room and staircase. However there are significant changes on the first floor. The porch was removed, and replaced by a nicely sized breakfast room (12’ x 20’ sq ft), while a substantial garden room (22’ x 28’ sq ft) was added to the rear elevation. Both ends of the home were remodeled, which included the installation of a large (19’ x 24’ sq ft) living room on the right hand side of the home.