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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Lost Estate of 15440 Windmill Pointe

Having recently covered the many lost estates on Lakeshore, this week we turn our attention to Windmill Pointe and to another grand estate that has been lost over time.

Welcome to 15440 Windmill Pointe, designed by Louis Kamper for Herbert V. Book in 1921. This grand French Châteaux was a spectacular residence on the shores of Lake St. Clair located on a lot that was approximately two acres. 

The architect, Louis Kamper, could be described as one of the most impactful designers to have ever graced Detroit. His style, influence and work were on par with Albert Kahn, and George D Mason in terms of the architectural legacy that many of his projects have left on the city, and the United States.

Born in Bavaria, Germany in 1861 Kamper emigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1880. Having arrived in Detroit in 1888 he quickly established himself on the architectural scene, joining the firm of Scott & Scott, becoming partner within a year.

Louis Kamper – courtesy of Wikipedia

His list of wealthy clientele grew quickly and he soon established a relationship with several prominent families within Metro Detroit – including the Book family, becoming their chief architect. During this era he received many commissions from the family, two of his most recognizable projects are the Book Building (1917) – an Italian Renaissance-style building, and the striking Book Tower (1926). Another key project was transforming Washington Boulevard into the most opulent, and successful retail destination in Detroit. By 1923 Herbert Vivian Brook, and his brothers James Burgess, and Frank Palms, had already cornered much of the real estate on the blvd. The brothers then set upon creating their very own hotel, hiring Kamper to design what would become the most extravagant hotel in the city. When it was completed, in 1923, the 33-story Book-Cadillac Hotel was the tallest hotel in the world at the time. Source: Historic Detroit.org

Book Tower. Courtesy of Historicdetroit.org. Originally from the Detroit Free Press Archives.

The Book-Cadillac Hotel in the 1920s. Courtesy of historicdetroit.org. Originally from The Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library.

During the early stages of his career Kamper, had travelled extensively in Europe studying the architectural monuments of the past. This level of research clearly had an influence on much of his work, including the Neo-Renaissance Book-Cadillac hotel, which incorporated a variety of architectural elements from Europe, and the grand home he created for Herbert Brook at 15440 Windmill Pointe.

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