Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – 1251 Devonshire – A Gracious and Distinctive Home

There are many homes in and around Grosse Pointe that make you want to just stop and look. Some have a distinctive design, while others are strikingly different from the homes that surround them.

While many homes fall into the latter category, it is the former that applies to 1251 Devonshire, a gracious and distinctive home located in Grosse Pointe Park, created by John W. Case.


Case was born in Geneva, 1864, however it isn’t clear when he moved to the United States. After graduating from high school he studied architecture at the University of Michigan, and majored in architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, before heading back to Europe to continue his studies. During his career he worked in New York, Boston, and Baltimore before ultimately winding up in Detroit, where he was primarily based.

From 1905 to 1920 he also served as the Professor or Architecture at the University of Illinois before returning to Utica, Michigan where he lived until his death in 1937.

In an edition of the American Architect and Building News, dated 1897, John W. Case was acknowledged to be part of a group of local architects, members of the ‘Detroit Architectural Sketch Club’ who were asked to give a public lecture on Architectural History, and each prepare a paper. This group also included Albert Kahn, Louis Kamper, H. J. M Grylls and Emil Lorch.

With regards to his work at 1251 Devonshire, Case created the modern colonial home for George W. Yeoman in 1918. The 3,833 sq ft home is featured extensively in a 1919 edition of ‘Michigan Architect and Engineer’, which also featured some wonderful photos of the property (please see below – courtesy of


The Library – courtesy of Michigan Architect and Engineer –


Entrance Hall – courtesy of Michigan Architect and Engineer –


Dining Room – courtesy of Michigan Architect and Engineer –

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to McKinley Place – the small street with the big names

Having recently featured Cloverly Road, we continue with our series of blog posts profiling the homes on a specific street. This week we explore McKinley Place, Grosse Pointe Farms.

The majority of streets in Grosse Pointe consist of several blocks, however McKinley Place is unique in that it is essentially one road, connecting Jefferson Ave with Grosse Pointe Blvd. According to research by the Grosse Pointe Historical Society an orchard near Fisher Road was removed in 1907 and replaced by an early subdivision (one of Grosse Pointe’s earliest), McKinley Place.

Many of the houses date before 1915. It soon became apparent this small street was the place to be, attracting some big names from Detroit’s leading architecture firms.

Albert Kahn could be described as the architectural champion of Metro Detroit. Throughout his career he created over 400 buildings in the area, stretching back as far as 1888. Known for both residential and commercial projects Kahn created at least 20 buildings in Grosse Pointe, including the Frank and Robert Kuhn Residence, located at 28 McKinley Place (1914).

28 McKinley

Built in the traditional Colonial Style, Kahn reportedly used an unconventional tapestry brick technique (based on research from the book The Legacy of Albert Kahn), which provided an ‘interesting textural quality’ on this 8,000 sq ft home. It is also reported Kahn ‘built the house as a favor to the Kuhn brothers because he had built their factory in Detroit’.


Ist floor

28 McKinley_2nd Floor

2nd Floor

Howard Crane had one of the most diverse and varied portfolios of any architect during the first quarter of the 20th Century. Known for his design of theatres around the world Crane designed at least 6 homes in Grosse Pointe. The first of Crane’s residential projects in Grosse Pointe came in 1914, located at 38 McKinley Place. Designed in the Arts & Crafts Style, the 5,036 sq ft three-story house features wonderful decorative craftsmanship including wooden floors throughout and interior paneling.

38 McKinley_2

38 McKinley


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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Leonard B. Willeke Houses of Three Mile Drive

Willeke 2During a distinguished career Leonard Bernard Willeke, the Cincinnati and Detroit based architect, designed close to 30 homes in Grosse Pointe, and many more around Metro Detroit. During the 1920’s, his golden era, Willieke had a stellar reputation for designing outstanding homes for wealthy clients. He created some exquisite mansions in Grosse Pointe Park, including the largest residence of his career, the Oscar Webber mansion in 1925.

Many streets around Grosse Pointe Park have at least two or more of his homes, including Berkshire, Balfour and Three Mile Drive.

The three Willeke homes on Three Mile are arguably some of his finest examples. Two of these homes are located next door to each other on a street that includes the work of several noted architects.

Located at 1010 and 1012 both homes are a wonderful examples of English Tudor design, they were constructed within a year of each other, and built for two leading businessmen, including William A. Petzold, secretary and treasurer of J.L Hudson and Company, and Raymond J. Purdy, president and co-founder of the Ainsworth Manufacturing Company.

1010 Three Mile
It is believed, through his project with Oscar Webber, the VP of J.L Hudson and Company, Willeke became acquainted with William A. Petzold, who commissioned the architect to design a large Tudor residence and garden in 1928.


1010 Three Mile Drive

Petzold was widely known in the business circles of Detroit. He first became associated with Hudson’s in 1881, starting at the company as a clothing merchant, where he quickly climbed the corporate ladder to become secretary and treasurer in 1899 – the same year as he was admitted to the State of Michigan bar. Mr. Petzold married Josephine Thompson (sister of William B. Thompson, the Mayor of Detroit in 1911 and 1912) and together they had five children.

The home Willeke created for the Petzold family is constructed of solid masonry and features traditional timbers associated with the Tudor Style, filled with stucco between each timber. The 3-story home is around 6,100 sq ft, the first floor features a large living room (18’ x 30’), dining room (14’ x 20’), and a sun room (14’ x 20’), along with 5 large bedrooms on the second floor, and a ballroom, complete with stage, and 3 additional bedrooms (for maids) on the third floor.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Art Moderne Homes of Lyle Zisler

If you drive around Grosse Pointe you will come across numerous homes that are a vastly different design from those that surround them. We are talking about modern homes, created by one of a kind designer’s who have the skill to introduce something a little bit different to Grosse Pointe.

Many of these designer’s are not household names but are accomplished architects who brought something unique to Grosse Pointe. We have covered the work of several designer’s who warrant a mention within this category, including:

Lyle Zisler-professional photo

Lyle Zisler – courtesy of

We now turn our attention to a young architect by the name of Lyle F. Zisler. There is very little known about Zisler, but we can share what we have found out. He was born in 1910, and died in 1958. He was the architectural editor in 1929 for Michigan Technic (a publication produced by the University of Michigan) writing several papers for the publication. Based in Detroit, he was self-employed and became a member of the American Institute of Architects in 1938.

Having introduced you to Zisler, now lets introduce you to his most prominent home in Grosse Pointe, an Art Moderne residence once described by the Detroit News as ‘the most modern house of its day’. ‘One of the few restored homes from the Art Deco period in our area’.


The house is located at 641 South Oxford, Grosse Pointe Woods. It was built in 1937, and was created by Zisler for his own family. The two-story home is 2,099 sq ft, constructed of light-colored sandstone and glass blocks. The design was extremely innovative for its time, featuring a two-story glass block window on the front elevation and floor to ceiling windows at the back of the house.

The wonderful photo’s (below) of the home come from the book Art Deco in Detroit –, and ( Research on the website( provides a glimpse into the interior of the home including this magnificent stainless steel curved staircase. The research states the home, when built, featured a wonderful collection of Art Moderne furniture, and this remained the case when the home was sold by the Zisler family (in 1994) to its current owners who have maintained its Art Moderne qualities inside and out. This home was also featured in the book ‘Art Deco in Detroit’ by Rebecca Binno Savage, Greg Kowalski, and is a wonderful example of an Art Moderne Home.


641 South Oxford – courtesy of Art Deco in Detroit – and


641 South Oxford – courtesy of Art Deco in Detroit – and

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – 635 Lake Shore – Grosse Pointe’s Most Distinctive Home?

Hugh T. Keyes is one of Grosse Pointes most prolific designers; during the 1930’s he constructed some of the finest homes in the community. When he completed 635 Lake Shore “Woodley Green” in 1934 for then president of First National Bank of Detroit, Emory W. Clark, he created one of Grosse Pointes most distinctive homes.

For everyone who travels frequently along Lake Shore you will have noticed the superb red brick home with the large flag on the front elevation – Woodley Green.


Woodley Green – courtesy of Wikipedia

Woodley Green is considered, by many, as one of Keyes finest homes. This belief recognizes how special this house is; given the number of significant houses Keyes designed in Grosse Pointe and Bloomfield Hills throughout his distinguished career.


HughT. Keyes – courtesy of Wikipedia

Keyes was born in Trenton, Michigan, 1888. He studied architecture at Harvard and worked in the office of Albert Kahn until World War 1. During the war he served in the Navy for two years before returning to Detroit to work for the firm of Van Leyen and Schilling. It is believed Keyes became licensed as an architect in Michigan in 1920, joining the firm of Smith, Hinchman and Grylls before opening his own practice in 1921.

He had a wonderful diverse repertoire ranging from the Tudor revival homes he designed in Grosse Pointe (during the 1920’s), to the French Normandy style home at 78 Lake Shore (built in 1928) through to the ranch home on Fairway Hills Dr., Franklin (in 1961), one of his final commissions before his death in 1963.

However it is the classic Georgian style (of the related Regency style) that he is most noted for, including several prime examples in Grosse Pointe he created during the 1930’s:

Woodley Green – 635 Lake Shore – built for Emory W. Clark in 1934

Hudson House114 Lothrop Rd – built for Stewart Hudson in 1937

114 Lothrop_2015

Hudson House – 114 Lothrop

Trix House – Fisher Road – built for Herbert B. Trix in 1937


Trix House – courtesy of Wikipedia

Joy House – 60 Renaud Rd – built for Richard P. Joy, Jr. in 1938


Joy House – 60 Renaud Road – courtesy of Wikipedia

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to Cloverly Road – an architectural gallery

There are many interesting streets throughout Grosse Pointe. These streets are filled with engaging stories, precious gems by grand masters, a window into the past, along with many historical finds.

Over our series of blog posts we have profiled the following:

  • The pure style of the first block of Bishop
  • Presented Middlesex as the most interesting street in Grosse Pointe
  • Uncovered the Albert Kahn Houses on Ridge Road
  • Delved into the historic district of Beverly Road
  • Analyzed the changing face of architecture on Cadieux
  • Discovered the last remaining summer cottage on Lakeshore


Now it’s the turn of the classically designed homes of Cloverly Road in Grosse Pointe Farms. The first block of this prestigious street offers us a chance to explore the creativity from the architectural talent who completed many projects on this road during the roaring 20’s, a golden era of architectural significance in Grosse Pointe Farms.

The houses on Cloverly present an array of architectural styles, from the Tudor Revival homes with the steeply pitched roofs and intricate detailing to the French Eclectic residences, a very popular style found in the Farms during the 1920’s,

Not only is the first block of Cloverly filled with many classically designed homes, it is filled with an abundance of intricate details. As you walk down the central sidewalk under the tunnel of trees look up and you will see the beautiful copper dormer windows on house number 87, the intricate pattern on the side of house number 110, and the striking chimney at house number 111.



Copper dormer windows – Number 87


Intricate pattern – Number 110


Striking chimney – Number 111

These handsome features are just part of the wonderful detailing that can be found on many of the homes on this road. Grosse Pointe is filled with homes created by some of the best architects on the East coast of the United States. Cloverly showcase’s the work of some of the most prominent Detroit based designers who worked in the community during the latter part of the 1920’s.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Thomas Jefferson Comes to Grosse Pointe – 320 Provencal

While Grosse Pointe has an abundance of wonderfully designed homes in numerous architectural styles, designed by some of Detroit’s top creative talent there are instances when you come across something a little bit special. These homes are unique, from the architects who worked on them, to the buildings that inspired them.

Recently we covered the ‘precious gems from architectural masters’, the designer’s who came to Grosse Pointe to create one special project. One such designer that certainly fits into this category is Milton L. Grigg, the man who brought a little bit of Thomas Jefferson to Grosse Pointe in the shape of 320 Provencal.

Milton Grigg – courtesy of

Milton Grigg is best known for his work in the field of historic preservation. Born in Alexandra, Virginia in 1905 (he died in 1982) Grigg studied architecture at the University of Virginia. His first job was as a draughtsman on the Colonial Williamsburg restoration (between 1929 and 1933). He then established his own practice in Charlottesville in 1933, and worked on numerous major restoration projects in Virginia including Monticello along with several churches in Virginia. According to research on Artnosh K. Edward Lay, author of the Architecture of Jefferson County, called Grigg “one of the premier architectural restoration/preservationists of his time – always with an inquisitive mind on the forefront of architectural inquiry”.

Grigg took much of inspiration from historic buildings, changing the scale and creating many structures reminiscent of traditional Virginia architecture. K. Edward Lay describes Grigg’s method of design as ‘taking inspiration from historic buildings and reinterpreting the principles in them to fit contemporary needs’, working as a modernist within the Jeffersonian tradition. It is believed many of his residential projects include Jefferson inspired characteristics including classical ornamentations, octagonal rooms, practical design and understated elegance.

Having spent most of his career in Charlottesville, Grigg came to Grosse Pointe in the early 1950’s. The residence at 320 Provencal, completed in 1956 custom designed and built by Grigg, is an authentic reproduction of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the primary plantation near Charlottesville Virginia built in 1772.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Creative Imagination of William Buck Stratton

We recently introduced you to 560 Cadieux Road and the emergence of the Arts and Crafts movement in Detroit (and the United States) towards the end of the 19th century. Already a popular movement in Europe, thanks to William Morris, many architects in the US had started to be influenced by this emerging architectural trend.


Image Courtesy of –

One of biggest advocates of this fresh architectural style was William B. Stratton. Along with Albert Kahn and several prominent designers these key figures spearheaded the growth of the arts and crafts movement within Detroit. It was Stratton who helped organize the first and second annual exhibitions of arts and crafts in Detroit (in 1904 and 1905) held at the Detroit Museum of Art. He also became the first vice president of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts.

Stratton was an innovative designer, and has often been described as having a vigorous creative imagination with a diverse range and aptitude for switching between architectural styles. This allowed him to create buildings that were ahead of their time, by being at the forefront of the latest trends in commercial and residential design.

Born in Ithaca, New York in 1865 Stratton attended Cornell University from 1884-1888 graduating with a degree in architecture. It is believed he first appeared in the Detroit City directory in 1889, while working as a draughtsman for the prestigious architectural firm of Mason & Rice.

In 1893 Stratton struck up a partnership with Frank C. Baldwin that would last until 1911. It would be the first of many partners Stratton would work with during a long and distinguished career.

The firm of Stratton and Baldwin was the first in Michigan to be made up of men trained in American architectural schools (Baldwin – Boston Tech, Stratton – Cornell) and has been described as being one of the most influential architectural firms in Detroit during the early 20th century.

One of Stratton’s earliest projects in Grosse Pointe came in 1908 for Frederick M. Alger. Alger house (located on Jefferson) was considered ahead of its time in terms of its functionality, and attained a level of originality and charm that had rarely been seen in Grosse Pointe.

Next door to Alger house, that same year, Stratton and Baldwin created an English manor home for Baldwin himself.

In 1911 Baldwin left Michigan, Stratton embarked on several residential commissions in Grosse Pointe, either working alone or as a collaborative project with one of the several business partners he would work with until 1932. These included:

  • 1893 – 1911: Stratton and Frank C. Baldwin
  • 1911 – 1915: Worked alone
  • 1915 – 1918: Stratton and Von Schneider
  • 1918 – 1925: Stratton and Dalton J. V. Snyder
  • 1925 – 1932: Stratton and Arthur K. Hyde
  • 1932 – 1938: Worked alone – Stratton died in 1938

Outside of Grosse Pointe some of Stratton’s most well known designs are the Pewabic Pottery (1907), the headquarters and city exchange of the Home Telephone Company of Detroit (built in 1908), and the Detroit Public Library Bowen Branch (1912).

Stratton & Baldwin. Home Telephone Company of Detroit Headquarters and Exchange 163 Madison built in 1908

Home Telephone Company of Detroit Headquarters – courtesy of

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – A Kahn or not a Kahn that is the Question – 59 Lakeshore

59 Lakeshore is an exceptional home. Not only is it one of the few remaining 19th century homes in Grosse Pointe it may also be one of Albert Kahn’s earliest residential designs.

59 Lakeshore_b

The home was commissioned in 1892 by Joseph Berry for his daughter Charlotte and her new husband Henry Sherrard. Berry was a prominent figure in Detroit, forging a successful career as a businessman, industrialist and real estate speculator. In 1881 he commissioned a new home for his family. One of the first year-round homes to be built in Grosse Pointe, Edgemere was located at 50 Lake Shore (now demolished) and was designed by the prominent architectural firm of Mason and Rice (George Mason and Zachariah Rice). The house was situated on a colossal 15 acres of land, running from McKinley Road to Sunset Lane, and stretching from Lake St. Clair to Kercheval.

Joseph Berry  Edgemere

* Images of Joseph Berry and Edgemere are courtesy of the Grosse Pointe Historical Society

Berry and his wife Charlotte had three daughters. Research from GP Heritage Magazine states when each daughter married, Berry would offer, as a wedding present, to build a home for them on part of his estate.*

His first daughter to marry was his eldest, Charlotte, in 1892. Charlotte married Henry Sherrard, a respected teacher who would go on to establish the Detroit University School (now University Liggett) at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Joseph Berry's oldest daughter, Charlotte, with her husband, Henry Sherrard,

Charlotte and Henry Sherrard – courtesy of Grosse Pointe Historical Society

When Berry commissioned the new home for his daughter and his first son-in-law, he returned to the same firm who had designed Edgemere, Mason & Rice. A young Albert Kahn had just returned from studying in Europe and was said to be working for the duo, learning his trade under Mason. It is believed, courtesy of research from GP Heritage Magazine, Kahn was responsible for creating many residential designs, one of which could have possible been the design for 59 Lakeshore, however there is no concrete evidence to prove who the architect is.



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