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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to 7 Woodland Place

Last week we presented the striking Federalist inspired home – 2 Woodland Place – by one of Grosse Pointes most prolific architects Robert O’Derrick.

This week we stay on Woodland Place, and explore another of the streets individualistic homes – 7 Woodland Place.

Originally designed by William Buck Stratton, 7 Woodland Place is arguably one of the more unique homes found in Grosse Pointe. It was completed in 1909 as a summer home of the Hazen S. Pingree family. Hazen S. Pingree was a four-term mayor of Detroit, a successful businessman, and the 24th Governor of the State of Michigan.

Hazen S. Pingree – Courtesy of Wikipedia

Pingree was a cobbler by trade. Having moved to Detroit in 1865 he established a successful shoe making company. By 1886, it was a 1 million dollar company with 700 employees turning out a half-million shoes and boots a year. It was the second biggest shoe manufacturer in the U.S. Source: Wikipedia.

In 1872 Pingree married Frances A. Gilbert and together they had three children. Hazen S. Pingree died in 1901, and so the summer home commissioned on Woodland Place was created for his wife and children.

It was the first house to be built on this once heavily wooded area. Mrs. Pingree hired one of Detroit’s most prominent architects, at the time, William Stratton, to design her new summer residence.

Stratton was an innovative designer, and has often been described as having a vigorous creative imagination with a diverse range and aptitude for switching between architectural styles. He was constantly at the forefront of the latest trends in commercial and residential design, which allowed him to create buildings that were ahead of their time. He designed many homes in Grosse Pointe, where his approach ranged from the formal to the informal, the traditional to the free flowing. Stratton was also known for his skill at adapting his style to the desires of his client, while stretching the brief as much as possible. You can read his full story by clicking here.

His design for 7 Woodland Place centered on the Dutch Colonial style, complete with gambrel rood and flared eaves – it is not clear how big the original home was.

7 Woodland Place – Courtesy of Grosse Pointe Historical Society.

In 1935 the Pingree family hired renowned Michigan architect Hugh T. Keyes to make extensive additions to the house to convert it from a summer home to a year-round residence. Keyes had a stellar reputation for making significant alterations to existing homes, and had undertaken several such projects in Grosse Pointe.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to 2 Woodland Place

Last week we explored the various projects of noted Detroit architect Roland C. Gies. He designed at least 5 homes (that we know of) in Grosse Pointe, and the original Bon Secours hospital.

We now turn our attention to one of Grosse Pointes most prolific architects Robert O’Derrick and his work at 2 Woodland Place, Grosse Pointe City.

Having designed over 25 homes throughout the Grosse Pointe Communities, Derrick was also responsible for two prominent school buildings, the ‘Little Club’, along with the Grosse Pointe Farms water filtration and pumping station.

Alongside Albert Kahn, Hugh T. Keyes, Marcus Burrowes, and J. Ivan Dise, Derrick was pivotal in changing the face of the architectural scene within the community during the 1920’s. The most prominent period of Derrick’s work in Grosse Pointe occurred during 1923 to 1931, and crossed several architectural styles.

Derrick’s work was extremely formal in its approach, and displayed superb attention to detail. The majority of his commissions were large residences for renowned businessmen. He was also a big fan of English stately homes. Having travelled to England in 1927 to study English Domestic Architecture, Derrick returned to the United States and created several wonderful Georgian inspired masterpieces on Vendome, Grosse Pointe Farms – 211, 168 and 70. However, it is his work at 2 Woodland Place that we are going to explore.

211 Vendome

168 Vendome

70 Vendome

2 Woodland Place was completed in 1928 for Frank Woodman Eddy – a prominent businessman in Detroit who had made his fortune from chemical and rubber manufacturing. Mr. Eddy was also the first president of the Detroit Athletic Club in 1887.

2 Woodland Place

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Work of Roland C. Gies

Having presented the superb Georgian Cottage Hospital Nurses Residence in Grosse Pointe Farms we now focus on the work of noted Detroit architect Roland C. Gies, which includes another significant building in Grosse Pointe – Bon Secours.

Roland C Gies

Roland C. Gies was born in Detroit, 1874. He was educated at the St. Mary School and the Detroit College. He spent the majority of his career in the city where he was ‘favorably known’, and well respected by his peers. Having graduated with a degree in architecture he gained valuable experience in the office of R.E Roseman, and for a long time afterward was identified with the firms of Albert Kahn, and Donaldson and Meier. Source: The City of Detroit, Michigan, 1701-1922, Volume 4

In 1903 Gies completed a significant residential project – the new home for George Stroh, located at 548 East Grand Blvd – which undoubtedly helped forge his career. The striking house contained several unusual features for the time, including a third floor gymnasium, a subway-tiled walk-in refrigerator, and an electric burglar alarm system.

548 East Grand Blvd – Courtesy of Flickr

In 1904 Gies partnered with Maxwell Grylls to form the firm of Grylls and Gies. Together they designed many wonderful formal brick Georgian homes, including several residences in Indian Village – 1072 Seminole (built in 1904), 1106 and 1127 Seminole (1905), 962, 1043, 1038 and 1012 Burns Ave (pictured below) – were all completed in 1906.

1012 Burns Ave – Courtesy of Flickr

In 1906 the firm of Grylls and Gies was dissolved. Maxwell Grylls would join in the formation of one of Detroit’s most famous architectural firms – Smith, Hinchman and Grylls, while Roland C. Gies set up his own firm focusing on projects throughout Metro Detroit. Gies tended to specialize in domestic projects, however his technical training and broad practical experience also allowed him to diversify and create several attractive commercial buildings in Detroit. This included the Comfort Station #8 Riverbank Drive built in 1914 Belle Isle Detroit.

Here in Grosse Pointe Mr. Gies worked on several residential projects. He continued with his recognized approach of creating large brick homes. All were perfectly proportioned, and demonstrated his immense skill for detailed brick designs.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Cottage Hospital Nurses’ Residence

Last week we explored several of the sublime houses on Ridge Road, Grosse Pointe Farms. This week, we stay on Ridge Road and visit the Cottage Hospital Nurses Residence – now home to the Services for Older Citizens (SOC).

The building, located at 158 Ridge Road, was originally built for the newly constructed Cottage Hospital as a nurse’s residence. Cottage Hospital (now the Henry Ford Medical Center) was built in 1928 and was designed by the renowned firm of Stratton and Snyder.

Cottage Hospital – Courtesy of The Village of Grosse Pointe Shores By Arthur M. Woodford

The nurses’ residence, a separate building from the hospital, was the brainchild of Helen Hall Newberry Joy – daughter of Helen Handy Newberry and John Stoughton Newberry, and wife of Henry Bourne Joy. Ms. Newberry donated the funds so the dormitory could be built for the 20 nurses who would reside there at any one time. A grand opening took place in June 1930, and the residence became known as Newberry House.

The superb 10,000 sq ft three-story residence is a superb Georgian Colonial style design. Its symmetrical design, intricate brickwork, and perfect proportions is down to the creative skills of architect Raymond Carey.

Cottage Hospital Nurses Residence

Raymond Carey was a prominent architect in Grosse Pointe Farms, designing many luxurious homes during the era of substantial growth in the community.

Raymond Marwood-Elton Carey was born in England in 1883; he grew up in Bath surrounded by some of the finest examples of Georgian Architecture in the world, most of which still exist today. These Eighteenth Century architectural works of art made a huge impression on Carey and during his career he would design some of Grosse Pointe’s finest Georgian Homes.

Having graduated from the University of Bath, he arrived in Detroit at the beginning of the 20th Century. The city would be his home for just a few years. In 1909 he created what is arguably his finest Georgian masterpiece, the John M. Dwyer House, located at 372 Lakeland.

Shortly after completing the Dwyer House Carey relocated to Winnipeg, Manitoba. However, by the mid-1920’s Carey had returned to Detroit. During his second stint in the city Carey’s work began to become extremely sought after and he became a key figure in creating Georgian style homes. His work helped transform the architectural scene in Grosse Pointe Farms, through the golden era for Georgian design. Within 20 years he had created at least 12 homes (that we know of). You can read the full story of Raymond Carey by clicking here.

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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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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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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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