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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Lost Estates – 525 Lakeshore

This week we continue with our review of the lost estates of Lakeshore with our penultimate post about these wonderful homes.

Last week we reviewed the lost Ford estates, designed by Pittsburgh architect Albert H. Spahr. This week we focus on 525 Lakeshore – one of the largest estates to have ever graced Grosse Pointe – Deeplands, set on a colossal 80 acres. To give you a rough idea on the size of this estate, once the home was demolished and the land sub divided more than 80 homes (of varying sizes) were built on the area. Source: Grosse Pointe 1880-1930 by Madeleine Socia and Suzy Berschback.

Deeplands was built in 1911 for Henry D. Sheldon, and his wife Caroline. They were married in 1887 and had three children. Mr. Sheldon was born in Portville, N.Y in 1862. He attended Yale College in 1886 where he studied law, and was admitted to the Michigan bar in 1887. Between 1887 and 1890 he was involved in the wholesale dry goods business, after which he divided his attention between various corporate boards. He passed away in 1941. Mrs. Caroline Sheldon was a Detroit society leader. She was born in 1865 to General Russell A. Alger, the former Govenor of Michigan and Secretary of War in President McKinley’s cabinet. She was a member of many prominent societies in and around Detroit including the Society of Arts and Crafts, Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Detroit Museum of Arts Founders Society. She passed away in 1935. Source: http://portvillehistory.org

  

The Sheldon’s new home was an opulent mansion in the style of an Italian Villa. The exterior walls were faced with grayish-yellow bricks, while the roof tiles were green. The entrance, approached by a driveway, was at the rear of the house, nestled within an abundance of trees and shrubs. The front of the home faced Lakeshore, and had 1,100 feet of frontage on Lake St. Clair with a portion extending inland by 3,000 feet. Source: Grosse Pointe Historical Society.

Courtesy of: The Grosse Pointe Historical Society.

Courtesy of: The Grosse Pointe Historical Society.

The property also included three smaller buildings – a four-car garage, stables and a house for the gardener. Based on research by the Grosse Pointe Historical Society the house was named ‘Deeplands’ because the property extended back into the country.

Courtesy of: The Grosse Pointe Historical Society.

Courtesy of: The Grosse Pointe Historical Society.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Lost Ford Estates – Designed by Albert H. Spahr

This week lets continue with our exploration of the lost estates of Lakeshore. So many of these wonderful homes have been lost over time with many of the properties being subdivided and sold for new projects.

Last week we featured 415 Lakeshore, the former home of Lieutenant Colonel J. Brooks Nichols, demolished in the late 1950’s. Now lets turn our attention to the work of Pittsburgh based architect Albert H. Spahr and the three homes, all of which are now gone, he created for the Ford siblings Mrs. Hetty Ford Speck, Mr. Emory L. Ford, and Mrs. Stellar Ford Schlotman.

The siblings, along with a third sister, Mrs. Nell Ford Torrey, were the grandchildren of John B. Ford, an American industrialist and founder of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company.

The Ford siblings all resided in imposing estates on Lakeshore, within a stones throw of each other (485 Lakeshore, 500 Lakeshore; 575 Lakeshore and 585 Lakeshore).

Interestingly three of the four siblings used the same architect for their homes, a Pittsburgh based designer by the name of Albert H. Spahr. He was commissioned to work on the homes of Mrs. Joesph B. Schlotman (500 Lakeshore), Elmer D. Speck (585 Lakeshore) along with the home for Emory L. Ford (485 Lakeshore).

Mr. Spahr, born in 1873 Dillsburg, PA, began work in the office of Harry W. Jones of Minneapolis in 1889. After spending five years with the firm Mr. Spahr left to study architecture (for two years) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston. Upon graduating, in 1896, he spent the summer in England and France before returning to Boston, where he would work as a draftsman for two further years. In 1901 he moved to Pittsburgh, and formed a partnership with C. D MacClure. Together, the firm became one of the more successful firms in Pittsburgh, working on public and private projects. Mr. MacClure died in 1912 and so Albert H. Spahr continued to work on his own.

His first project in Grosse Pointe for the Ford Siblings was for Mrs. Hetty Ford Speck. This beautiful half-timbered Tudor inspired mansion, named ‘Fairholme’, (located at 585 Lakeshore) was completed in 1914. Images are courtesy of Detroityes.com (originally from 1916 Issue of The Architectural Record).

It was demolished in 1959.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Lost Estates – 415 Lakeshore

This week we continue with our review of the lost estates of Lakeshore. We have featured some wonderful homes, all of which have been lost overtime. Most recently we featured ‘Cherryhurst’ the home of Paul H. Deming located at 111 Lakeshore.

What makes the homes on Lakeshore so interesting, and also so difficult to research is how many of the house numbers have changed in Grosse Pointe Farms. The new numbers were issued in the late 1930’s. This is the case with many of the lost mansions we featured, including –

447 – 457 (Roy D. Chapin)

421 – 431 (William P. Stevens

273 – 259 (Frank P. Chesbrough)

429 – 437 (Richard H. Webber)

415– 421 (J. Brooks Nichols)

*red text denotes the house number we referenced.

We now turn our attention to 415 Lakeshore. Unlike so many of the ‘lost mansions’ (whose street numbers have also been lost over time), this number still exists, although the mansion that now occupies the plot is vastly different from the original home.

415 Lakeshore was built in 1914 for Lieutenant Colonel J. Brooks Nichols. The immense 20,000 sq ft home, was situated on a large 1,200 x 300 sq ft plot that stretched all the way back to Kercheval. The estate included beautiful gardens, a cottage, and stables. The classically styled colonial home featured a large center hall, drawing room, music room, library, a ballroom and servants quarters. Source: Grosse Pointe Historical Society. Very few images of this home exist, however we were able to find these images online. Source: http://www.beyondthegildedage.com/

Renowned New York landscape architect William Pitkin, Jr. designed the garden. Pitkin had already completed several projects in Grosse Pointe, including the garden at the home of Truman H. Newberry (1914) along with the magnificent garden at the Mrs. Henry Stephens estate, located at 241 Lakeshore (1913) – you can read the full story of this home by clicking here.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Lost Estates – 111 Lakeshore

Lets continue with our review of the lost estates of Lakeshore. Over the past few weeks we have featured some stunning homes, most recently the William P. Stevens estate – 431 Lakeshore.

The number of mansions that have been razed over the years is astonishing. According to an article in the Detroit News (1997) ‘of the 43 estates listed in a 1956 article about mansions in the Pointes, only 13 still exist’, and since 1997, more have fallen.

This week we turn our attention to 111 Lakeshore, also known as ‘Cherryhurst’ – home of engineer, and financier Paul Harvey Deming.

111 Lakeshore was built in 1907. It was one of the first year round residences to be built in Grosse Pointe Farms. French farmers first inhabited the two-acre site along Lakeshore in the 1700’s. It was also the site of Grosse Pointe Farms’ first summer cottages, built for two wealthy Detroiters in the late 1800’s. Source: web.archive.org – mcgi.state.mi.us

The lot, as depicted by the plan below, was a long and narrow property, measuring 130 feet wide and 614 feet deep. It was reached by a private drive off of Lakeshore Road

Created in the Tudor Revival architectural style this exquisite home was a colossal 15,000 square ft three story residence built in the shape of a U. Source: www.revolvy.com. It features many of the defining characteristics found in Tudor revival homes such as decorative half timbering, a steeply pitched roof, long rows of casement windows, stucco on the exterior along with half timbering on the exterior of the second floor.

Cherryhurst – Courtesy of web.archive.org – mcgi.state.mi.us

The interior also reflects this popular architectural style with detailed woodwork, paneling and archways present in many of the rooms. The property featured 10 fireplaces, many of which were carved limestone. The spectacular 29’ x 23’ sq ft entrance hall is paneled with beech (as depicted in the photo below).

Cherryhurst Interior – Courtesy of web.archive.org – mcgi.state.mi.us

There were several grand rooms on the first floor, including the 20’ x 35’ sq ft living room, the 24’ x 18’ sq ft dining room, a large 22’ x 18’ sq ft kitchen, along with an extravagant 43’ x 25’ sq ft ballroom.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Lost Estates – 431 Lakeshore

Over the past few weeks we have been delving into the history of several lost estates on Lakeshore. These have included the bygone properties of T. P Hall, Scott Whitcomb, Roy Chapin, William P. Stevens, and Richard Webber.

This week we return to the William P. Stevens estate – 431 Lakeshore – for a more in-depth review of this grand home.

Built in 1914 the home was reportedly designed by leading Detroit architectural firm Smith Hinchman and Grylls. Located back from the road, and originally accessible from Kercheval, it was a magnificent Georgian Revival brick home – an architectural approach that was extremely popular during this era, particularly in the larger estates that were being built in Grosse Pointe Farms.

431 Lakeshore – 1954

When the house was first built it featured a symmetrical center portion with prominent entry features on both the lakeside as well as the driveway side. Georgian Revival homes typically feature a prominent entrance, accompanied by Doric fluted columns. Once through the main door the floor plan is typically dominated by a long center hall/foyer that extends through the house. In the case of 431 Lakeshore (as depicted in the floor plan below –from 1977) the impressive 14’ x 34’ sq ft foyer is the central feature of the home, along with a grand stairway. From the foyer three large rooms have a magnificent view of the lake – the grand 21’ x 35’ sq ft living room, the 18’ x 26’ sq ft library, and the 18’ x 23’ sq ft dining room.

431 Lakeshore – 1st Floor

Based on a document from the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, the interior décor was extremely modest. However, the house did boast all the modern conveniences available in 1914, including ample bathrooms and storage areas.

The floor plan below (from 1977) presents the second floor, featuring five large bedrooms, a sun deck, a large 18’ x 19’ sq ft sitting room (complete with bar), and a 12’ x 15’ sq ft drawing room. The main landing of the stairway, on the second floor, incorporated a large Palladian style window, centrally located over the driveway side entrance. Source: Grosse Pointe Historical Society.

The third floor included an additional three bedrooms (for maids), along with an 18’ x 19’ sq ft hobby room, and a large 23’ x 23’ play room.

431 Lakeshore – 2nd Floor

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Lost Estates – Part 3

Having recently featured the Whitcomb Estate, we continue with our series of the lost estates of Lakeshore. Last week we explored several large estate(s) close to the former Whitcomb residence – the bygone Roy Chapin, William P. Stevens, and Richard Webber properties. All of which have been razed over time, and have been replaced in one-way shape or form.

This week we continue along Lakeshore to an area between Harbor Hill and Kerby. Prior to 1950 this particular area of Lakeshore featured several magnificent residences including those of Frank P. Chesborough, Henry B. Joy, and David C. Whitney.

Starting in the early 1950’s these three residences were demolished within 10 years of each other – The Whitney Residence was one of the first of the grand mansions on Lakeshore to go, demolished in 1954. The Joy residence came down shortly after (in 1959), followed by the Chesbrough Estate (in the 1960’s).

Given the demise of these mansions happened within 10 years of each other, it is interesting to note that they were also built within 10 years of each other, during a time of grandeur, opulence, and a time when Lakeshore was becoming a popular destination.

Lets begin with the David C. Whitney summer residence – Ridgemont – built in 1902, located at 237 Lakeshore. Designed by accomplished Detroit architect Walter MacFarlane, this was a beautiful residence created in a classical Georgian style featuring, columns, pilasters and the central triangular pediment above the entrance.

Whitney Residence – Courtesy of the Burton Collection, Detroit Public Library

David C. Whitney’s new home was one of several white clapboard Colonial Revival homes that were being built in Grosse Pointe at that time. Along with the William C. McMillan house (designed by Mason and Rice) it was described as being ‘one of the most formal and stylistically pure of these homes’. The formal emphasis of Walter MacFarlane’s creation undoubtedly came from the White House in Washington. The home featured a two-storied portico (often found in the South), which was extremely popular at the turn of the century, and sunrooms at either end of the home. Source: Tonnancour, Volume 1.

David C. Whitney (son of David Whitney Jr, famous lumber baron, and owner of the house on Woodward, now known as The Whitney) was a banker, and real estate developer.

The Home was razed in 1954, and the estate subdivided.

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