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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Pre 1911 Homes on Lake Shore, Grosse Pointe Shores

Having featured the superb historic homes of 980 and 976 Lake Shore last week, we were curious to find out how many other homes on Lake Shore, Grosse Pointe Shores were constructed around the beginning of the 20th Century.

There is an abundance of homes from this era on St Clair Avenue, Grosse Pointe City, but what about the Shores?

In 2011 the Village of Grosse Pointe Shores celebrated its centennial year. Based on research by Arthur M. Woodford in his book The Village of Grosse Pointe Shores we learnt that as part of this centennial celebration the Village honored the homes built before 1911 – there are at least a dozen.

Mr. Woodfood revealed four of these homes, and we have been able to find six others – to present 10 of these historic residences.

The majority of these homes still exist today, however throughout the course of history, several of these properties have undergone significant alterations, and so it is extremely difficult to find photo’s of the original properties. Nonetheless these homes are prized finds and play a huge part in the early development of our historic community.

Grosse Pointe Shores in 1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

In 1911 the Village of Grosse Pointe Shores was a vastly different community to what we see today. Lake Shore Road was unpaved, and the only way to reach downtown Detroit was by horse and buggy, by boat, the interurban railway (the Detroit, Lake Shore, and Mount Clemens Railway), or if you were wealthy enough, by motorcar. Year round homes were few and far between, and much of the community consisted of rural ribbon farms and a few summer cottages. Source: The Village of Grosse Pointe Shores by Arthur M. Woodford.

Lake Shore 1880 – 1901. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

1911 also witnessed the election of the first president of the newly established Village, George Osius. During this era, and under Mr. Osius’s guidance, the village quickly began to change. The once rural farming community became a haven for wealthy families who began to build expansive homes on the shores of Lake St. Clair.

The majority of the following pre 1911 homes still exist today. The oldest home in the community is 980 Lake Shore. Part of the home dates back to 1849, which makes it possibly the oldest clapboard house in Grosse Pointe to be still on its original foundation. You can read the full story by clicking here. 

971 Lake Shore: – completed in 1890

971 Lake Shore. Image courtesy of Arthur M. Woodford, The Village of Grosse Pointe Shores.

860 Lake Shore: The original home was completed in 1898 (the photo below, from 1972), is of the original Victoria style home. The architectural approach of the property was similar to many of the wonderful mid Victorian style homes found on St. Clair Avenue, and was extremely popular during this era. We believe it was razed around 1990, and a new home built on the lot.

860 Lake Shore

858 Lake Shore: – completed in 1900.

858 Lake Shore

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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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