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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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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Detroit’s Premier Architect– Louis Kamper

When we stop and consider which designers have had the greatest influence on the architectural scene in Detroit, it is quite possible there would be three reoccurring names – Albert Kahn, George Mason and Louis Kamper.

These three architectural masters worked during a golden era, creating residential and commercial structures that left not only a permanent mark but helped position Detroit as the home to some of the most remarkable buildings found in the United States.

All three of these special architects not only work in Detroit but also created homes in and around Grosse Pointe. Having previously featured the projects of Kahn and Mason lets now turn our attention to Louis Kamper.

Louis KamperKamper was born in Bavaria, Germany in 1861. He emigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1880. Having arrived in Detroit in 1888 he quickly established himself in the architectural scene, joining the firm of Scott & Scott, and becoming partner within a year.

His list of wealthy clientele grew quickly and he soon established a relationship with the Book family, becoming their chief architect. According to research on historicdetroit.org Kamper created several buildings for the Book Brothers. The first came in the form of the Book Building (1916) – an Italian Renaissance-style building. This led to further commissions from the family; a key project was transforming Washington Boulevard with the addition of a number of high-rise buildings, including the construction of the Book Tower (1926) on the southwest corner of Grand River Avenue and Washington.

Book Building

Book Building – courtesy of Historicdetroit.org

Historicdetroit.org states – ‘J. Burgess Book Jr. found in Louis Kamper an architect who was entirely sympathetic to his ideas,’ William Hawkins Ferry wrote in his book The Buildings of Detroit – ‘Kamper, too, had journeyed about Europe studying the architectural monuments of the past. In America he saw the opportunity to impart to the new skyscraper the beauty of these masterpieces.’

In 1923 Kamper created the Book Cadillac Hotel. Historicdetroit.org explains ‘the Neo-Renaissance hotel incorporates a variety of architectural elements from Europe’. When it opened ‘it was the largest and tallest hotel in the world and became a benchmark for all hotel designs that would come after it’.

bookcadillacmain

Book Cadillac Hotel – courtesy of Historicdetroit.org

Following the completion of the Book Cadillac Hotel Kamper was commissioned by hotelier Lew Tuller to design three hotels in Metro Detroit – all three were designed and built in 1924.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – 251 Lincoln Road, also known as “Edgeroad”

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe –251 Lincoln Road, also known as “Edgeroad”  

Lets take a look at the work of noted Detroit architect Louis Kamper and one of his residential projects – 251 Lincoln Road, also known as “Edgeroad” or the Murray W. Sales House.

Louis Kamper was born in Bavaria, Germany in 1861. He emigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1880 and upon his arrival he secured a position as an apprentice architect for noted New York City firm McKim, Mead and White.

kamperDuring his eight years with the firm Louis learned of the growing market in Detroit’s architectural and construction industry, and moved to the city where he quickly established himself in the architectural community. He joined the firm of Scott & Scott in 1888 and within a year the Scotts had made Kamper a partner. Kamper quickly became a premier architect and designer among the wealthy in the city and received commissions from many notable Detroit families including the Bagleys, the Merrills, the Tullers and the Books.

In 1917 Kamper received a commission to build “Edgeroad” (originally 17743 E. Jefferson) in Grosse Pointe for Murray W. Sales, a manufacturer in Detroit. Up until this point in his career Kamper had designed buildings with strict academic features, but this new project saw him employ greater simplicity.

251 Lincoln Road

The 10,000 Sq Ft Italian Renaissance style villa has large Georgian windows and is constructed from white brick-stucco. The original layout of the home included three floors and a full basement. The first floor features 12ft ceilings, with many impressive rooms that allowed the Sales family space for gracious entertaining. These included a grand living room (24ft x 40ft) a large dining room (21ft x 29ft) a music room (16ft x 28ft), morning room, a huge kitchen (22ft x 24ft); laundry and service stairs while the entrance hall had a marble floor. There were eight bedrooms in total, six bathrooms and an additional kitchen on the 3rd floor. Throughout the property were beautiful fireplaces, chandeliers, raised wood paneling in the living room along with exquisite details on both the woodwork and mantels.

251_Lincoln_FP_1  251_Lincoln_FP_2

At the time of its construction “Edgeroad” was one of the many Grosse Pointe mansions built before and during the First World War when architects working in the community started to experiment and employ originality in their designs.

Louis Kamper was one such designer who had started to push boundaries and become more responsive to his surroundings. As was his former business partner, John Scott, who created the Harry N. Torrey house on Lakeshore Drive (1913) which was also heavily influenced by Italian Renaissance Architecture.

175MerriweatherKamper had an extremely successful career designing commercial and residential buildings in and around Grosse Pointe and Wayne County. He created more than 100 commercial residential structures in the area during his career and later he adapted his style to the Moderne movement (which later became known as the Art Deco movement) and worked on such projects as the Water Board Building (1928), the J.M Schaefer Building (1930) and the Colonial Revival style Sutton Residence (1931) 175 Merriweather Road which was Kamper’s smallest family home.

“Edgeroad” has been beautifully maintained and still exists in its entire splendor today. Despite being altered from its original design it is a beautiful example of Italian Renaissance Architecture found in Grosse Pointe during the early twentieth century.

 

Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2015 Higbie Maxon Agney

 

If you have a home or building you would like us to profile please contact Darby Moran – Darby@higbiemaxon.com – we will try and feature the property.

(For more historical information on Grosse Pointe, visit Grosse Pointe Historical Society).

A Tale of Five Cities

The historical architecture of Grosse Pointe.

Through the best of times, through the worst of times, the one thing Grosse Pointe has is an abundance of stunning architecture.
 
Recognized for its historic reputation for scenery and landscape, Grosse Pointe has grown from a colonial outpost to a community of prime real estate with the reputation as a notable American suburb.

Situated on the shores of lake St. Clair, the five communities (that make up Grosse Pointe) share an array of architectural gems – a significant architecture collection designed by many noted architects:

Eero Saarine

Eero Saarine

Albert Kahn

Albert Kahn

Marcel Breuer

Marcel Breuer

Louis Kamper

Louis Kamper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the coming weeks, Higbie Maxon Agney will be profiling some of the most renowned work by these talented designers along with sharing the history of some of the homes within Grosse Pointe that have an interesting story to tell (to name but a few) –

  • Buck-Wardwell House
  • Paul Harvey Deming House – “Cherryhurst”
  • Charles A. Dean House – 221 Lewiston Road “Ridgeland”
  • J. Bell Moran House – “Bellmoor”
  • Sutton Residence
  • F. Caldwell Walker House
Buck-Wardwell House

Buck-Wardwell House

Charles A. Dean House

Charles A. Dean House

F. Caldwell Walker House

F. Caldwell Walker House

Sutton Residence

Sutton Residence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We will be beginning the series next week with 15410 Windmill Pointe – childhood home of stage actress Julie Harris and venue of the Junior League of Detroit 13th Designers’ Show house in 2000 – until then Happy 4th July!

If you have a home or building you would like us to profile please contact Darby Moran – Darby@higbiemaxon.com – we will try and feature the property.

(For more historical information on Grosse Pointe, visit Grosse Pointe Historical Society).

 

Photos courtesy of: houses (wikipedia.org); Albert Khan (britannica.com); Marcel Breuer (design-museum.de); Eero Saarinen (wikipedia.org); Louis Kamper (historicdetroit.org)