Last week we explored several homes on the elegant street of Lothrop, Grosse Pointe Farms. One of the homes we profiled, 99 Lothrop, was designed by Charles A. Platt. Mr. Platt was not only a talented architect, but was also considered to be one of America’s more influential landscape designers.
Platt designed at least four homes (that we know of) in the Grosse Pointe communities. Despite his natural talents in landscape design Platt was happy to hire leading landscape architects to work alongside him on his project(s). His propensity to hire nationally recognized landscape designers was based on his desire to create a natural synergy between the house and its surroundings, and one designer who was particularly skilled in this area was William Pitkin Jr.
Mr. Pitkin worked on at least three prominent gardens in Grosse Pointe, all of which were located on the grand estates of Lakeshore. Each of these estates were created by nationally noted architects – Charles A. Platt (241 Lakeshore, 1913), the New York City firm of Trowbridge and Ackerman (123 Lakeshore, 1914), and the talented duo of Chittenden and Kotting (415 Lakeshore, 1914). Together these talented architects, and Mr. Pitkin, would form a formidable partnership
241 Lakeshore, the home to Mrs. Henry Stephens, is a great example of the integral relationship between architect and landscape designer. Charles Platt hired William Pitkin Jr. to design the estates extensive grounds. Early on in the process Pitkin submitted a report to Platt explaining how the layout and plan of the house should be influenced somewhat by the landscape features. Based on research from a copy of American Architect and Architecture, Volume 109, it appears Pitkin recommended the following – ‘the garden, with its central grass panel is literally an extension of the hall, and as such must be considered an integral part of the floor plan, while the main entrance is placed at the end of the house’.
The garden included many fine specimens’, selected by Pitkin, to enhance, frame, and compliment the home. Some of the trees on display included mugho pines, dogwoods, ash, American elms, red cedar, English yew, horse chestnut, oaks, rhododendrons and poplars. Flower panels created stunning formal gardens at the rear of the home, and many were arranged to give one simple floral effect at a time – as depicted by the planting plan below.