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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Many Faces of Albert Kahn

Several of the architects who created residential work in Grosse Pointe also worked in commercial, industrial and municipal architecture. Albert Kahn was not only capable of working in all these different disciplines, but he was indeed world renowned for some of his innovations.

There are numerous other architects who were as equally diverse, however what makes Kahn almost unique in the world is that he had a separate design language for each type of building – he created modern/ground breaking industrial designs, was open to following the latest trends for his commercial projects, and developed very traditional residences. In a limited group of architects who possessed these skills this makes him quite remarkable.

Kahn’s early career was dominated by residential projects. He then ventured into commercial buildings, added factories to his repertoire, whilst continuing to work on many grand homes throughout Metro Detroit, albeit in a more limited capacity.

In 1894, whilst working as a draftsman for Mason and Rice, Kahn was part of the team who were asked to create the new offices for Hiram Walker and Sons in Windsor, Ontario. One year later, in 1895, at the age of 26, he founded the architectural firm of Albert Kahn Associates. In 1901 he had completed his first industrial project – the Boyer Machine Company in Detroit is the first industrial building attributed to Kahn. Source: The Legacy of Albert Kahn by W. Hawkins Ferry.

In 1903 Kahn was hired to build a new automotive plant for the Packard Motor Company. A contemporary magazine at the time praised Kahn’s design as a new style of factory, bright, clean and cheerful.

The first nine buildings of the plant were of conventional mill construction. Kahn, realized the system could be a fire hazard, and so for the design of building number 10 (in 1905) he switched to the system of reinforced concrete that his brother had perfected – the first of its kind in Detroit. ‘The “Kahn” system soon became established and popular throughout the country’. Source: The Legacy of Albert Kahn by W. Hawkins Ferry.

Packard Plant’s building number 10 during expansion circa 1911 – courtesy of Wikipedia.

Over the next few years Kahn threw himself into industrial design, creating numerous factories for the ever-expanding automobile companies – including the Ford Motor Company Highland Park Plant. This left him with a limited about of time for residential projects which he reserved for a few select clients.

By 1910, his work fell into several defined styles – his industrial work was innovative and groundbreaking, his commercial work was commanding attention for its ‘simplicity and excellence’, while his residential projects were grand traditional masterpieces.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Moving With The Times – 41 Provencal

In the late nineteenth century an international movement of decorative and fine arts had begun in Britain. Known as the Arts and Crafts movement it stood for traditional craftsmanship using simple forms whilst harnessing natural materials. The Arts and Crafts movement flourished in Europe and North America between 1880 and 1910, heavily influencing art and architecture.

The first Arts and Crafts Society in the United States was established in Boston in 1897. In 1906 a similar society was formed in Detroit, believed to be the second such organization in the United States. At the time many of the leading architects in Detroit were huge advocates of the movement including William Buck Stratton and Albert Kahn who was one of the original-founding members of the society.

Both Stratton and Kahn were huge exponents of the Arts and Crafts movement in the City, regularly employing key components of the style into their residential projects. As part of the dedication to the societies expansion Stratton helped organize the first and second annual exhibitions of arts and crafts – held at the Detroit Museum of Art in 1904 and 1905. By 1916 the organization became the first Arts and Crafts society in the US to construct its own building. Source: www.detroit1701.org

In 1906 Albert Kahn was commissioned by Lewis H. Jones to design a large mansion in Indian Village – located at 8191 East Jefferson Avenue. Lewis H. Jones was president of the Detroit Copper and Brass Rolling Mills Company, along with being an active official in many other large manufacturing projects and organizations throughout the City.

The design of the home Albert Kahn conceived for Lewis Jones was one of grandeur. It encompassed a classic Tudor Revival style along with keeping the spirit of the Arts and Crafts Movement throughout.

The home at its 8191 East Jefferson Avenue location –  Courtesy of detroityes.com

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Lost Tudor Mansions of Grosse Pointe – Part 2: the Alvan Macauley Mansion

Following on from the story of the Standish Backus Estate located at 725 Lake Shore, we continue with the ‘Lost Tudor Mansions of Grosse Pointe’ and move onto 735 Lake Shore – the Alvan Macauley Mansion – demolished in 1975.

As one of the architectural masterpieces that were constructed on the shores of Lake St. Clair during the golden era of stately mansions, Albert Kahn designed this spectacular home for Alvan Macauley and his family in 1930.

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Macauley Mansion – Courtesy of www.atdetroit.net/forum/messages/6790/91689.html?1156530865

Prior to the construction of the Backus Mansion (1934) and Rose Terrace (in 1934) the Macauley mansion was one of the ‘stand out’ estates on Lake Shore Drive. Similar in both construction and appearance to the Ford Estate, which had been completed two years earlier in 1929, Kahn applied the same Cotswold traits he had incorporated for Ford into the Macauley’s new home and combined it with the recognized styling’s of the large Tudor manor homes which were now familiar around Grosse Pointe.

The house
It is believed, from research in ‘Buildings of Detroit’ by W. Hawkins Ferry, the Macauley’s were particularly fond of the Tudor and Cotswold styles. Prior to the building of their new residence they had spent several weeks in Worcestershire, England, studying the local architecture, along with purchasing some fine English Antiques.

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Albert Kahn’s design for the Macauley mansion was less grandiose than the Ford Estate and more secluded. The exterior of the home was constructed from stone, with the work being completed under the careful supervision of a foreman from the Cotswold region of England. The interior, also employed the same meticulous attention to detail with the Hayden Company of New York completing the skilled woodcarving. The paneling in the grand 45’ x 25’ sq ft living room, which occupies an entire wing, ‘combines a medieval linenfold motif with later Renaissance ornament’ – source: Buildings of Detroit, by W. Hawkins Ferry. Research on www.atdetroit.net states that when the home was demolished the dining room was painstakingly removed and relocated to the Charley’s Crab restaurant in Troy (now owned by private dining company – Lakes) – see both images below.

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Living room – Courtesy of www.atdetroit.net/forum/messages/6790/91689.html?1156530865

Macauley-living-room_new

Living Room – Courtesy of www.lakestroy.com/about/

The 22’ x 22’ sq ft square dining room was sublime and constructed in the George I style. As the floor plan(s) below shows, the second floor featured 5 large bedrooms along with 4 smaller bedrooms (possible for servants) and a large 25’ x 18’ sitting room.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – A Kahn or not a Kahn that is the Question – 59 Lakeshore

59 Lakeshore is an exceptional home. Not only is it one of the few remaining 19th century homes in Grosse Pointe it may also be one of Albert Kahn’s earliest residential designs.

59 Lakeshore_b

The home was commissioned in 1892 by Joseph Berry for his daughter Charlotte and her new husband Henry Sherrard. Berry was a prominent figure in Detroit, forging a successful career as a businessman, industrialist and real estate speculator. In 1881 he commissioned a new home for his family. One of the first year-round homes to be built in Grosse Pointe, Edgemere was located at 50 Lake Shore (now demolished) and was designed by the prominent architectural firm of Mason and Rice (George Mason and Zachariah Rice). The house was situated on a colossal 15 acres of land, running from McKinley Road to Sunset Lane, and stretching from Lake St. Clair to Kercheval.

Joseph Berry  Edgemere

* Images of Joseph Berry and Edgemere are courtesy of the Grosse Pointe Historical Society

Berry and his wife Charlotte had three daughters. Research from GP Heritage Magazine states when each daughter married, Berry would offer, as a wedding present, to build a home for them on part of his estate.*

His first daughter to marry was his eldest, Charlotte, in 1892. Charlotte married Henry Sherrard, a respected teacher who would go on to establish the Detroit University School (now University Liggett) at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Joseph Berry's oldest daughter, Charlotte, with her husband, Henry Sherrard,

Charlotte and Henry Sherrard – courtesy of Grosse Pointe Historical Society

When Berry commissioned the new home for his daughter and his first son-in-law, he returned to the same firm who had designed Edgemere, Mason & Rice. A young Albert Kahn had just returned from studying in Europe and was said to be working for the duo, learning his trade under Mason. It is believed, courtesy of research from GP Heritage Magazine, Kahn was responsible for creating many residential designs, one of which could have possible been the design for 59 Lakeshore, however there is no concrete evidence to prove who the architect is.

Image-courtesy-of-AiA--The-American-Institute-of-Architects-Guide-to-Detroit-Architecture.-Google-Books

Image-courtesy-of-AiA–The-American-Institute-of-Architects-Guide-to-Detroit-Architecture.-Google-Books

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – From Across The Pond.

For the next few weeks, historical architecture of Grosse Pointe is going on the road and heading to England, home of cottages, castles, warm beer and many wonderful buildings and gardens.

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Grosse Pointe architecture has many important ties with the United Kingdom. Several of the prominent architects that have worked in the area spent some time either training or traveling in the UK, including Albert Kahn, Hugh T. Keyes, Leonard B. Willeke and English architect Raymond Carey with his superb Georgian style homes. Together they designed at least 80 buildings in the community, with the majority of their projects still around today.

It wasn’t just the architects that made the journey across the pond, many of the grand mansions in Grosse Pointe have or had some components brought over from the United Kingdom. This includes the 600-year-old yew hedges for Roy D. Chapin and his garden at 447 Lake Shore, along with the 150-year-old boxwoods located at Rose Terrace.

The English Renaissance “castle” also known as Stonehurst – built in 1917 – featured a music room lined with oak paneling that had been removed from a stately home and reassembled at Stonehurst at a reputed cost of $100,000. The Ralph Harmon Booth home, located at 315 Washington features a 15’ high slate fireplace from an English estate along with a fireplace and walnut paneling imported from a prominent residence. We have the quaint English style cottage hidden amongst the trees – 1017 Lake Shore, and of course the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House known for its traditional Cotswold style. Many components of the home resemble the traditional rural cottages found in the Cotswold’s, in particular the customary style slate roof, which features on many homes throughout Grosse Pointe.

We hope you enjoy our stories from England, we will be featuring: a home you all know and love, a fabulous garden, and a palace fit for a king.

The series will begin tomorrow (Wednesday July 22nd) when HMA goes to Downton Abbey!

 

Written by Katie Doelle
© 2015 Higbie Maxon Agney

 

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – “Joy” in the Farms.

Located on the corner of Moross and Grosse Pointe Blvd. the Joy bells in Grosse Pointe Farms are a familiar sight, they stand as an iconic structure that is very much part of the community.

Bells_2

 

The Bells once belonged to the Joy family and were part of the grand estate known as Fair Acres, previously located at 301 Lake Shore. Henry B. Joy commissioned the bells in 1929 from the Paccard Foundry in the French Alps for his estate. Each of the 15 bells bear the inscription “Henry B. Joy”, the date 1929, along with the seal and name of the bell founder George Paccard et Fils. It is said that when the bells were made they were horribly out of tune because they were not tuned at the foundry. Nevertheless the bells were installed at Mr. Joys Fair Acres residence where they rang daily between the hours of 8am and 8pm. According to Folklore, during the summer months, Mrs. Joy would ring the bells to alert her husband to come in from his yacht for dinner.

Henry_Bourne_JoyHenry B. Joy was born in Detroit in 1864. A banker and financier Joy, along with a team of investors purchased the Ohio Automobile Company in 1902, and the company soon became known as the Packard Motor Car Company. The company moved to Detroit and in 1905, Joy commissioned Albert Kahn to build the world’s first reinforced concrete factory on East Grand Boulevard. The company grew tremendously under his leadership and in 1909 he became president.

Henry Joy was fast gaining a reputation as a major developer of automotive activities. In 1913, Joy and Carl Graham Fisher were instrumental as the key organizers of the Lincoln Highway Association, a group focused on building a concrete road from New York to San Francisco. Joy has sometimes been called the father of the nation’s modern highway system, and Joy once described his effort to create the Lincoln Highway as “the greatest thing I ever did’.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Albert Kahn’s Hidden Gem – 1017 Lake Shore

When we think of Albert Kahn’s work in Grosse Pointe we naturally gravitate towards his large-scale projects, such as the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, 257 Ridge Road, the Grosse Pointe Shores Municipal Building and 880 Lake Shore (to name but a few).

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However, when you reach the corner of Lake Shore, by the Ford House, heading towards St. Clair Shores, have you ever turned your head to the left and wondered who designed the quaint English Cottage hidden amongst the trees?

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Designed by Albert Kahn 1017 Lake Shore is arguably one of his least talked about homes and is probably the most modest Kahn building in the Grosse Pointes. But size isn’t everything, and this secluded cottage has just as many intriguing details as one of Kahn’s larger mansions, and probably more charm.

Originally part of the Edsel B. and Eleanor Ford estate, the English Cotswold cottage was built in 1930, after the completion of the main estate in 1929.

The House is located on a large lot (200’ x 250’) and when it was first built it is believed it was surrounded by at least 57 large trees, some of which still remain. The house itself is 2,150 sq ft and is constructed of brick with a tile roof. Like many of his projects the house has beautiful brickwork, highlighted by the striking chimney at the side of the house.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Albert Kahn Houses of Ridge Road

During his amazing career Albert Kahn designed around 400 buildings in Metro Detroit, and at least 20 in Grosse Pointe. Two of which are on the same street.*

The Albert Kahn houses of Ridge Road are within walking distance of each other, located at 273 and 257. Both are equally striking, constructed within a year of each other, built for two very prominent men, but the architectural style of these homes couldn’t be more different.

273 Ridge Road

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273 Ridge Road (believed to be by Kahn) was built in 1928 for Chrysler’s chief design engineer Owen Skelton. The French Norman Design is one of the most individual homes in Grosse Pointe and it is a shining example of Kahn’s creative genius.

273_side

At 7,437 sqft, this grand three-story stone construction features a dominating conical tower, a steep roof constructed of slate and intricate stone detailing on many of the exterior surfaces. The level of detail above the front door and the windows is sublime.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Grosse Pointe Farms and the Roaring 20’s – Part 2: Popular Architectural Styles.

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Grosse Pointe Farms and the Roaring 20’s – Part 2: Popular Architectural Styles.

The 1920’s in Grosse Pointe Farms (GPF) were a time of change, prosperity, and architectural transformation. It was a golden era for the area in terms of the prominent architects who were being asked to commission homes in the community.

Their work was becoming just as important as the families who were hiring them and Grosse Pointe Farms ‘dream team’ of designers (featuring Robert O. Derrick, Hugh T. Keyes, H.H. Micou and J. Ivan Dise (to name but a few) were beginning to transform the look and feel of the community.

The Victorian homes of the late 1800’s (with the fluted wooden columns, the large bay windows and the horseshoe arches) and the vernacular houses of the early twentieth century were giving way to some of the finest examples of Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, French Eclectic, and Italian Renaissance architecture in the country.

Colonial Revival

Probably the most popular style in and around Grosse Pointe Farms in the 1920’s was Colonial Revival Homes. Colonial Revival homes are typically two stories, have a symmetrical front facade with an accented doorway, and evenly spaced windows on either side often in pairs or threes. Many homes borrow features from colonial period houses of the early 19th century and some of the best examples of this style can still be found around Grosse Pointe Farms today –

  • 23, 27 Beverly Road (1923 R.O Derrick)
  • 75 Kenwood (1926 R.O Derrick)
  • 168 Moran

 

Tudor Revival

The other style that proved to be just as important as the Colonial Revival in GPF is Tudor Revival Homes. Built in the early 1900’s through to the early 30’s Tudor Revival homes ranged from elaborate mansions to modest suburban properties. Within GPF they fall into three general categories – public buildings (schools and churches), stone houses (based loosely on the design of late medieval English manor houses) and homes based on the picturesque character of late medieval cottages and country homes.

The main characteristics of a Tudor Revival home are steeply pitched roofs with multiple gables, tall, narrow casement windows (which were often set in groups of three), stucco siding and distinctive stone detailing. Some of the best examples of Tudor Revival homes that can still be found around Grosse Pointe Farms are –

  • 53, 110 (Robert O. Derrick), 118, 215, 219 Cloverly Road
  • 78 Lakeshore Drive (1928 H.T. Keyes)
  • 242 Lewiston Road
  • 60 (1927 C. Giles), 109 (1929 G.D. Mason) 110 (1927 R.A. Colder), 130 (1926 J.I. Dise) 138 (1929 R. Carey) Kenwood Road.
  • 257  Ridge Road (1928 Albert Kahn)
  • 72  Touraine Road (1928 H.H. Micou).

 

French Eclectic

Another style that has many great examples in Grosse Pointe Farms is French Eclectic. This charming style took hold and became popular in the 1920’s and continued through the 1940’s. French Eclectic homes generally feature steeply pitched, hipped roofs that are often flared at the eaves. Constructed of brick, with covered porches (with a lot of detail) these homes usually feature massive chimneys and small-hipped roof dormers. One popular example is Richard Elementary School, while a much simpler example is Cottage Hospital (St John).

Houses located in the Farms that display many of the typical features of this style can be located at –

  • 69, 93 Cloverly Road
  • 90, 100 Kenwood Road
  • 44 Provencal Road.

Italian Renaissance

Finally, we couldn’t talk about this significant architectural period without mentioning the Italian Renaissance. GPF has a small collection of high quality examples of this style of architecture. A classic example is located at 44 Beverly Road, which displays all the characteristics you would expect from a Renaissance Style Home.

44 Beverly

The most interesting example is located at 221 Lewiston, which was designed by Hugh.T. Keyes in 1924 and while it is relatively unusual for period style houses of its type in Grosse Pointe Farms it is truly stunning.

221 Lewiston

 

The roaring 20’s… a Golden Era of Architectural significance in Grosse Pointe Farms thanks to the prominent architects and their varied designs that feature so wonderfully in the community today – we hope you enjoy locating the many building we have mentioned.

 

Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2015 Higbie Maxon Agney

 

If you have a home or building you would like us to profile please contact Darby Moran – Darby@higbiemaxon.com – we will try and feature the property.

(For more historical information on Grosse Pointe, visit Grosse Pointe Historical Society).

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Grosse Pointe Farms and the Roaring 20’s – Part 1: the architects.

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Grosse Pointe Farms and the Roaring 20’s – Part 1: the architects.

The roaring 20’s..boom time for many cities in America and a Golden Era of Architectural significance in Grosse Pointe Farms.

During the first two decades of the 20th century and during the period after WW1 Grosse Pointe Farms had transformed itself from a rural, recreational community to an exclusive suburb in Southeast Michigan. The area, up until that point, had been a haven for summer recreational cottages for wealthy Michigan families, who wanted to spend their summers on the lake. However, during the 20’s things began to change and the once hotspot for vacations was being transformed into a year round neighborhood for affluent Detroiters.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the vernacular houses that were visible around Grosse Pointe Farms were typical of the homes found in Southeast Michigan and their architectural style was readily identifiable. However, as American prospered, the 1920’s in Grosse Pointe Farms ushered in a new style of architecture. Homes started to become a lot more varied in their style thanks to the prominent architects who were coming to the area to work on non-residential buildings and houses in the community.

Robert O. Derrick  Albert Kahn  John Russell Pope  Charles A. Platt  C. Howard Crane

The most popular architectural style was Colonial Revival and it was architect Robert O.Derrick who used this style most frequently in his Grosse Pointe designs.

Robert O. Derrick was a prominent architect known for his design of period style buildings. He designed more buildings in Grosse Pointe Farms than any other architect, and twenty of his buildings still exist. The majority of his buildings were designed in Colonial Revival style, while a few where in a Tudor Revival style.

H.H. Micou designed eleven buildings in Grosse Pointe Farms in four years. His 4 homes on Vendome and three on Touraine sill exist today and like Derrick, his style was predominantly Colonial and Tudor Revival along with French Eclectic.

The work of Hugh T. Keys also featured heavily in the Farms in the late 1920’s. His pièce de résistance was undoubtedly his Italian Renaissance inspired home at 221 Lewiston. Keys also had a passion for Colonial and Tudor Revival designs – 78 Lakeshore Drive being a prime example.

221 Lewiston  78 Lakeshore

Detroit based architect J. Ivan Dise created three houses on Kenwood, one on Cloverly and a further house on Country Club Lane between 1926- 1929.

Other prominent architects, who were not necessarily known for their work on residential properties also began to create some wonderful homes in the Farms. C.Howard Crane – who specialized in the design of movie places in North America – designed homes at 63, 69 and 79 Cloverly. While innovative industrial designer Albert Kahn designed homes at 8 Carmel Lane, 28 McKinley Place and 257 Ridge Road to name but a few.

63 Cloverly  69 Cloverly

Not to be forgotten nationally known architects, who already had significant works on Lakeshore, also had residential projects in the Farms – John Russell Pope (designer of the Roy D. Chapin Residence at 447 Lake Shore Road) designed a Colonial Revival home at 300 Provencal in 1928. While Charles A. Platt (famed for his work on Alger House at the GP War Memorial in 1910) created 99 Lothrop in 1928.

The influence these architects had on the architectural style of homes and buildings in Grosse Pointe Farms was astonishing. Their focus on Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival designs lead a transformation in the style of homes that were built throughout the community, which not only lead to a consistent look and feel but continued in smaller, simpler homes by architects who were less known.

Some of the best examples of Colonial Revival buildings that can still be found around Grosse Pointe Farms are –

Non-residential buildings:

littleclub

Punch and Judy exterior

Residential Homes:

  • 180 Ridge Road (1926 R.O Derrick)
  • 248 Provencal (1925 R.O Derrick)
  • 411 Country Club Lane (1932 William B. Stratton)
  • 194 Provencal (1934 Raymond D. Carey)
  • 226 Provencal (1941 Frank Miles)
  • 309 Lake Shore Drive (1949 John L. Pottle)

Additional examples are located at:

  • 23, 27 Beverly Road (1923 R.O Derrick)

23 Beverly  27 Beverly

  • 210 Cloverly
  • 181 Earl Court
  • 56 (1928 H.H. Micou), 70 (1927 R.O Derrick), 75 (1926 R.O Derrick), 120 (1926 R.O Derrick), 135 (1926 R.O Derrick) Kenwood Road

56 Kenwood  70 Kenwood

75 Kenwood 120 Kenwood

135 Kenwood

 

We will be will continuing with the exploration of the architectural styles in Grosse Pointe Farms next week, with an in-depth look at the Colonial Revival style along with other popular architectural styles that featured so heavily in the roaring 20’s.

 

If you have a home or building you would like us to profile please contact Darby Moran – Darby@higbiemaxon.com – we will try and feature the property.

(For more historical information on Grosse Pointe, visit Grosse Pointe Historical Society).