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

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

Over the past couple of weeks we have focused on the grand Lake Shore estates’, exploring the home of Mrs. Henry Stephens, and the five superb buildings constructed in Grosse Pointe Shores by legendary architect Albert Kahn.

This week we stay in Grosse Pointe Shores to bring you some of the hidden homes on the Lake.

As you drive along Jefferson and approach the Ford house you will have noticed the long driveways, and possibly caught a glimpse of the superb homes that line this part of the lake. The construction of these homes spans many years, yet many of these homes remain a mystery, concealed by the beautiful landscaped gardens that hide their full glory.

The smallest of the Grosse Pointe communities, Grosse Pointe Shores has developed rapidly throughout its history. Arthur M. Woodford, in the book, The Village of Grosse Pointe Shores, explains the residents of the community, in 1911 under the leadership of Detroit Businessman George Osius, voted to establish a more manageable form of local government, the Village of Grosse Pointe Shores.

Grosse Pointe Shores in 1915 – courtesy of the Library of Congress

It is this particular era we focus on, as we highlight several magnificent homes that were constructed on the lake between 1900 and 1918. All of these homes still exist today, enjoying a secluded existence along the lake. Lets begin with number 844.

844 Lake Shore: 3,150 sq ft – completed in 1909 – designed by John C. Stahl

844 Lake Shore

John C. Stahl designed this house, one of only a few residences in Grosse Pointe by this architect. Stahl, a German American, was born in Detroit, 1874. After graduating from Central High School (Wayne State University) in 1903 he worked in architectural offices during the day and studied building and design at night school. Stahl had a very successful career, he established the firm of Stahl and Kinsey, and designed several churches in Detroit – during his career he was acknowledged as one of the most skilled church and school architects in the state. He was also known to be an admirer of fine woods and incorporated exquisite detailing into many of his homes, including several he created in the Indian Village Historic District between 1912 and 1916.

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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:

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

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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.

Maccauley Mansion_1 2

Macauley Mansion – Courtesy of

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.


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 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.

Macauley Mansion_living room

Living room – Courtesy of


Living Room – Courtesy of

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.



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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.


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.



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?


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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