Posts

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to 1051 Berkshire

Welcome to one of the most individual homes in Grosse Pointe – 1051 Berkshire. Not only does the house have a very individualistic design it was also one of the few residences created by the Detroit based firm of Donaldson & Meier.

Donaldson & Meier were well known for their church work in Detroit and southeastern Michigan. John M. Donaldson and Henry J. Meier founded the firm in 1880. Donaldson was born in Scotland in 1854 and immigrated to Detroit with his family as a child. He had a wide and varied architectural education – after graduating from school he returned to Europe to study at the Art Academy in Munich, Germany and at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

John Donaldson – Courtesy of Wikipedia

Henry Meier – Courtesy of Wikipedia

Much of their early work together centered on designing churches, employing the Richardson Romanesque style in many of their designs. However, as architectural styles evolved so did their approach, which is certainly reflected in the Art Deco David Stott Building Donaldson completed in 1929.

David Stott Building – Courtesy of Wikipedia

In 1917 Henry J. Meier passed. Donaldson continued to run the firm, creating many unique buildings. This includes the rare residential project located at 1051 Berkshire.

Based on research at the Grosse Pointe Historical Society we understand the home was designed to resemble a château that French born Victor R. Heftler had admired on a visit to France.

Known as the “Coin de France” Heftler commissioned the home for his family in 1929. The 4,159 sq ft 3 story house is designed with a French Normandy architectural approach, which is evident in its central turret, slate roof and stucco and stone façade.

Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Provencal, The Modern Marvels

This week we conclude our exploration of the homes on Provencal. Over the series we have learned just what a unique, private and special street this is, and still there is so much more to learn.

The homes on Provencal evoke a classic feel – grand designs created in classic architectural styles by some of Detroit’s leading architects. The majority of the homes we have featured thus far were completed prior to 1941 – completed during the golden years of the architectural transformation that Grosse Pointe Farms witnessed during the 1920’s.

However, post 1950 the development of Provencal has not stood still. Several of the grand homes that had been built in the 1920’s were demolished to make way for newer homes, while leading architects and contractors quickly snapped up the available lots to build modern homes for their clientele.

We use the word ‘modern’ in a loose sense. Just because a home was designed in 1950, does it need to resemble a typical home found in that era?

Where Provencal is concerned many of the latter homes, which were added to the community were designed with a sense of tradition. The respective architects have done themselves, their clients and their designs justice in terms of accommodating their new builds with the established style(s) of the existing homes.

It is the ‘modern’ homes that we turn our attention to. Lets start with a project by Milton L. Grigg, the man who brought a little bit of Thomas Jefferson to Grosse Pointe in the shape of 320 Provencal – built in 1956.

320 Provencal – Courtesy of Grosse Pointe Historical Society

Custom designed and built by Grigg, best known for his work in the field of historic preservation, it is an authentic reproduction of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the primary plantation near Charlottesville Virginia built in 1772. Based on research found at the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, the two-story house is 4,513 sq ft, with 4 bedrooms, a maid’s room and a bathhouse. The entrance to the home boasts a magnificent portico with four columns, believed to be a two thirds sized copy of the north portico found at Monticello. It is reported the front doors are mahogany, containing 480 pieces. You can read the full story of this home by clicking here.

Read more

Buying a Home in a Sellers Market

According to reports house prices are close to what they were before the recession, while inventory is at a 15-year low, which makes it a great time to sell. But what if you are looking to buy?

Many articles offer advice on what the seller should do, but in this increasingly aggressive market place it is just as important to focus on what the buyer should do.

If you are planning on buying a home in the near future, it is imperative you have a trusted advisor to guide you through the home buying process. With homes receiving multiple offers within hours of coming onto the market having a knowledgeable REALTOR® on board now will ensure you are alerted to suitable homes, get an appointment to see the house asap, and are able to negotiate an acceptable offer.

A good REALTOR® can connect you with a Lender to get a pre-approval letter, be a resource for finding a home inspector, and other professionals needed to successfully complete your real estate transaction.

It is becoming increasing apparent that buyers who are prepared stand a far higher chance of securing their dream home. This includes:

  • Creating a picture of the type of home of you are looking for – style, location, size, wish list and budget.
  • Getting pre approved for a mortgage – something we can assist you with
  • Preparing your pre offer paperwork – sometimes it’s the quality of the offer that is more important than the amount that is bid.

There are a number of options to make your bid stand out – a larger deposit, asking for fewer contingencies, and where possible a cash bid will trump others in a multiple offer situation. Also, when viewing a home bring your checkbook for the earnest money deposit.

When buying a home in a sellers’ market prior preparation is key – we can help you through the process, from the beginning to the closing. So start now to avoid being late to the party – call our office to talk with one of our experienced team.

 

Copyright © 2017 Higbie Maxon Agney

 

 

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Provencal, The Private Street

Provencal Road in Grosse Pointe Farms is in every sense of the word ‘private’. A private street, with private homes, and with so little information available the history of many of the houses remains private.

Over the past few weeks we have gathered as much information as we could possibly find on this unique street. We know one home was moved from Indian Village to its current location on the first block of Provencal, and then there is the large Tudor residence reminiscent of an English Country Estate. We have found five homes created by English architect Raymond Carey, the four homes created by prominent local architect Robert O. Derrick, along with the three houses by distinguished designer Hugh T. Keyes.

This week we explore six homes on this private street that were designed by a selection of prominent architects’ between 1926 and 1941. The majority of the residences were created by noted Detroit based artists, while one home was the work of a nationally recognized designer John Russell Pope – one of only two of his projects found in the community.

Lets start with 44 Provencal. Commissioned by William C. Rooney in 1926, the 3,636 sq ft traditional Colonial brick house was created by J. Ivan Dise and Clair William Ditchy – one of three collaborative projects in Grosse Pointe by the Detroit based architects.

44 Provencal

Built in 1927 330 Provencal was designed by Henry F. Stanton – a diverse designer, faculty member of University of Michigan and master of exquisite brickwork.

330 Provencal

The large 8,625 sq ft brick property displays many of the typical characteristics often found in Stanton’s work – detailed brickwork, massive brick chimneys, an elaborate front entrance – in this instance carved limestone scrolls – along with a steep slate roof. (You can view more of his Grosse Pointe projects by clicking here).

Limestone scrolls – Courtesy of realtor.com

The interior features extensive woodwork, including a wood paneled library, heavy beams and paneling above the fireplace in the living room, along with a superb main staircase and large main hall framed with wide, carved oak trim and arches.

Extensive Woodwork – Courtesy of realtor.com

The home also features an abundance of decorative plaster trim, six fireplaces (four on the first floor, and two on the second), along with a 1,300 sq ft carriage house over the three-car garage.

Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Hugh T. Keyes Homes on Provencal

Regular readers of our blog will know that we have recently been focusing our attention on the superb homes on Provencal. So far we have profiled – Number 41, Number 234 the residences designed by Raymond Carey and the homes created by Robert O. Derrick.

This week we continue with our exploration with a review of the work by another prolific Grosse Pointe architect – Hugh T. Keyes.

Hugh T. Keyes – Courtesy of Wikepedia

A noted early 20th century architect, Keyes was a prolific designer of fine homes in the Grosse Pointes and was arguably one of the most diverse architects to ply his trade in the community.

His work centered on creating grand estates for the industrialists of Metropolitan Detroit (clients included Ford, Hudson-Tannahill, Bugas and Mennen) and he is considered to be one of the most versatile architects of the period.

Born in Trenton, MI in 1888, Keyes studied architecture at Harvard University and worked under architect C. Howard Crane. After graduating he quickly became an associate of Albert Kahn working on Kahn’s “signature project” the Detroit Athletic Club.

He was also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and served in the Navy during World War 1. He then spent time in Europe, traveling in England, France, Italy and Switzerland gathering inspiration for his work.

After serving with the Navy during World War 1, Keyes returned to Michigan. He briefly worked at Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, before opening his own Detroit office in 1921. His style was wonderfully diverse and ranged from Tudor Revival (highly popular in the early 20th Century metropolitan area) to rustic Swiss chalets.

Throughout out his career Keyes built many significant houses in Grosse Pointe with the majority located in the Farms, including three homes on Provencal:

  • 34 Provencal – 1912 – 8,162 sq ft
  • 260 Provencal – 1927
  • 344 Provencal – 1929 – 8,496 sq ft

Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Robert O. Derrick Homes on Provencal

Following on from our recent posts about the homes on Provencal – Number 41, Number 234 and the residences designed by Raymond Carey – we continue our review of this prestigious road with the homes designed by local architect Robert O. Derrick.

Courtesy of historicdetroit.org

Born in Buffalo, NY in 1890 Robert Ovens Derrick graduated with an architectural degree from the University of Columbia in 1917. Shortly after he arrived in the Metro Detroit area to begin what was to become a significant career in shaping the architectural scene of Grosse Pointe during the 1920’s.

Having completed his first project in the community, the ‘Little Club’ in 1923, Derrick went on to design over twenty five homes in the Grosse Pointe Communities, along with several community buildings.

Derrick lived and worked in Grosse Pointe, residing with his family at 407 Lincoln. He received many commissions by prominent businessmen in Metro Detroit who were looking to relocate their families out of the city to the increasingly popular distinguished superb of Grosse Pointe.

Arguably Derricks most productive and defining era occurred between 1923 and 1931, during which he worked in an array of architectural styles. The majority of his commissions were large residences, all of which are memorable, and still around today, including the homes he created on Provencal, which include:

  • 23 Provencal – 1924 – 4,829 sq ft
  • 248 Provencal – 1925 – 11,385 sq ft
  • 214 Provencal – 1925 – 11,767 sq ft
  • 204 Provencal – 1927 – 13,084 sq ft

Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – 234 Provencal

We recently presented the homes Raymond Carey designed on Provencal, Grosse Pointe Farms. The spectacular residences he created on this prestigious street vary dramatically in size, ranging from the 6,779 sq ft located at 380 Provencal through to one of Grosse Pointes largest homes – 194 Provencal which is 12,185 sq ft in size.

Raymond Carey was no stranger to grand homes. Having grown up and studied architecture in England Carey was surround by the substantial town and country estates that were part of the scenery in his hometown of Bath.

In 1909 Carey left England and arrived in Winnipeg, Canada. Having worked as an architect in both Canada and for a short time in San Francisco Carey moved to Detroit in 1921-22 to open his own practice. According to research from http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/ Carey, in 1924, teamed up with Horace H. Esselstyn, an Engineer in Detroit *. Their firm Carey & Esselstyn was active from 1924 to 1929, and during this period ‘Carey produced some of the most distinctive and sumptuous residential masterpieces of his career’.

Many of the homes Carey designed in Grosse Pointe were created during this period, with the majority in his signature neo-Georgian and Tudor Revival approach.

At its height of popularity in the 1920’s, Tudor Revival residences required skill by the architect to reproduce the typical characteristics in the right proportions to display the charm associated with this style. Given Carey’s skill in this approach, and the homes he was surrounded by growing up as a child, it is not surprising this style was particularly influential in the large English Country inspired residence located at 234 Provencal.

Courtesy of the Grosse Pointe Historical Society

The home, built in 1929, is approximately 8,122 square feet and is situated on a 100’ x 560’ lot. It is constructed from solid stone with a slate roof, and has exquisite detailing across the exterior.

Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Raymond Carey Homes on Provencal

Born in England in 1883 Raymond Carey was a prominent architect in Grosse Pointe Farms. He designed many luxurious homes during the 1920’s – 1930’s, an era of substantial growth in the community.

Having grown up and studied architecture in Bath, England, Carey had been surrounded by some of the finest Georgian residences in the world. This level of inspiration influenced much of Carey’s work, particularly here in Grosse Pointe.

Raymond Carey arrived in Winnipeg, Canada at the beginning of the 20th Century. By the early 1920’s Carey had relocated to Detroit. He had become a key figure in creating fine Georgian style homes, and his work had become extremely sought after.

Throughout Grosse Pointe the 1920’s were a golden era for Georgian design. Carey created at least 15 homes in the community (that we know of), including several prestigious homes on Provencal, along with the Cottage Hospital Nurse’s House, in 1929, located at 150 Ridge Road.

Carey was particularly adept to designing large homes, which is certainly evident in the homes he created on Provencal, which includes:

  • 338 Provencal – 1928 – 10,304 sq ft
  • 380 Provencal – 1929 – 6,779 sq ft
  • 234 Provencal – 1929 – 8,122 sq ft
  • 390 Provencal – 1931 – 10,000 sq ft
  • 194 Provencal 1931 – 12,185 sq ft

Lets start with the largest of his Provencal projects – number 194.

194 Provencal was built, in 1931, for Earl Holley, former chairman of the Holley Carburetor Company of Detroit. The 12,185 sq ft home has particularly handsome detailing including Corinthian pilasters; a columned entrance flanked by two large curved bow windows. It is a fantastic example of Georgian architecture and at 12,185 sq ft it is one of the largest homes in Grosse Pointe.

194 Provencal – courtesy of Detroityes.com

Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to the World of Richard E. Raseman

Welcome to the world of Richard E. Raseman – by no means a prolific architect in Grosse Pointe but possibly one of Detroit’s earliest acknowledged designers.

Born in Germany in 1855, Richard E. Raseman became a recognized architect in Detroit in 1883. He primarily specialized in industrial design and designed several breweries in Detroit, along with the original Eison Illuminating Company (now demolished and replicated at Greenfield Village).

At the beginning of his career, in 1885, Raseman formed a partnership with fellow German Julius Hess – a well-known architect in Detroit whose style centered on a medieval approach. Their collaboration ended in 1891, and both architects continued to work under their own names (Hess died in 1899).

Noted for his use of heavy stone and Richardson Romanesque inspired approach, Raseman continued to establish a name for himself in the city, having successfully completed, in1895, the superb Beaux Arts inspired design for the Harmonie Club, East Grand Avenue. Raseman, in association with Hess, also created the unique and instantly recognizable Grand Army of the Republic building in 1899 (located at 1942 West Grand River Avenue), the Metropol Building (1898), the Cary Building (1906), and the Hemmeter Building (1911)

GAR Building – Courtesy of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Army_of_the_Republic_Building

In 1914 Raseman arrived in Grosse Pointe for his first residential project in the community – located at 44 Beverly Road. It is an immense 7,100 sq ft home designed in a Spanish architectural style. It was commissioned by William Cornelius Crowley; a director at the Detroit based Crowley-Milner Company – a wholesale dry goods business.

Mr. Crowley resided in the home until his death in 1928. Eddie Rickenbaker – the World War 1 ‘Ace of Aces’, then purchased the house, and lived there for one year. John Dryden, director and president of the Borg-Warner Company, subsequently purchased it.

The image below from a 1916 edition of the Western Architect depicts the home superbly.

Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Homes with International Style

International Style is an important architectural movement that began to gain popularity during the 1920’s and 1930’s. The term “International Style” first came into play via a 1932 exhibition organized by American architects Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson – ‘Modern Architecture: International Exhibition’, which declared and labeled the architecture of the early 20th century as the “International Style“. Source: Wikipedia

The International Style began to gather pace in the US at the beginning of the 1930’s. Many US cities on the East Coast began to construct skyscrapers – lead by pioneering architects in this moment such as Philip Johnson – whilst ground breaking residential projects were being created by Frank Lloyd Wright and Eliel Saarinen to name but a few.

Based on research from Wikipedia the most common characteristics of International Style buildings are said to be: rectilinear forms; light, open interior spaces, and taut plane surfaces that have been completely stripped of applied ornamentation and decoration.

Here in Grosse Pointe, during the 1930’s, several international style projects had begun to appear in the community including: 766 Westchester, 888 Pemberton (by Alden Dow), and 641 Oxford, 705 Pemberton (by Lyle Zisler).

766 Westchester

888 Pemberton

641 Oxford

705 Pemberton

Louis Rossetti, in conjunction with Raymond Giffels & Victor Vallet, created several international style homes in the community during this era, including – 10 Provencal, 780 Grand Marais, 1119 Harvard, and his own home located at 1145 Balfour (in 1945).

Read more