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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Rivard – Part 2

Regular readers to our blog will know we recently began to explore the street of Rivard – a prominent street in Grosse Pointe whose name is associated with one of the earliest French farming families to settle in the community – The Rivard’s.

Rivard is a particularly interesting road, given the clear transition in architectural styles – from the earlier clapboard colonial homes constructed around 1918 through to the English Tudor and brick homes built after 1922.

If you travel up the street from Jefferson, it is clear the homes on the first block are very different – in terms of design – than the homes that exist beyond the second block to Mack. However, the quality of the homes does not diminish, given the caliber of the architects who were commissioned to work on this street.

Having covered some of the homes constructed from 1918 – 1922, this week we turn our attention to a range of homes built between 1924 and 1928, which, as you will see, display a broad range of design styles.

Built in 1924, number 649 was designed by architect John Senese. The 2,598 sq ft home is a symmetrical Dutch Colonial home and features clapboard on the exterior of the second floor. Traditionally, clapboards in North America were made of split oak, pine or spruce.

Very little is known about John Senese, but he did a nice job with the design of this home during an era when the Dutch Colonial style was becoming increasingly popular in Grosse Pointe.

649 Rivard

Barton Wood designed a classic English Tudor, number 699, in 1926. Having grown up and studied architecture and engineering at Stanford University, Barton Dixon Wood transferred to the University of Michigan to conclude his studies, before partnering with Samuel F. Abraham to form the firm of Abraham & wood. He lived at 695 Rivard (built in 1930), however it is not clear if and when he moved into this home or whether he designed it. Barton Wood also designed 845 Edgemont Park in 1928.

699 Rivard

695 Rivard

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Rivard – Part 1

As with so many of the streets in Grosse Pointe, there is a rich, and checkered past. Many of the streets we have come to take for granted date back hundreds of years, and represent far more than just a street name.

Some of the older road names in Grosse Pointe are Rivard, Renaud, Vernier, Grand Marais, Provencal and Beaufait (to name but a few), which, you may have noticed, have a distinctly French theme to them.

During the eighteenth century the French occupied much of the farmland that was so important to the Grosse Pointe area. During this era it is believed the area was heavily wooded and swampy, however it proved to be a great area for farming. Many of the early farms generally had around 300 feet of water frontage, ran one – two miles inland, and were owned by some very familiar names (as mentioned above), that we now recognize.

One of the earliest French farmers to settle in the Grosse Pointe region was the Rivard Family. Having taken ownership of a ribbon farm in 1762 the Rivard’s were a prominent family in the community.

Shortly after moving to the area Jean Baptiste Rivard married a young woman of German descent and together they had 13 children. After the death of Jean Baptiste in 1805, two of his sons (Charles and Francois) managed the land, which was ultimately sold by Farncois’s son around 1852. According to research in the book Tonnanour – ‘The sale of the land coincided with the end of the French ribbon farm system. During this period, Wayne County began to divide into sections and the township of Grosse Pointe became independent in 1848’.

Today the Rivard name remains very prominent in the community and the street is home to many grand residences. Over the next couple of weeks we will be presenting some of these homes, starting with the earliest – constructed between 1918 and 1922.

Number 482 was completed in 1918, having been designed by the prominent firm of Stratton and Snyder. The 3,200 sq ft home is designed in a colonial architectural style with a clapboard exterior, and steeply pitched roof.

William Buck Stratton and Dalton J. V Snyder worked together between 1918-1925, and created several homes in Grosse Pointe including: 4 Woodland Place, 365 University Place, 341 Lakeland and 15366 Windmill Pointe.

482 Rivard

482 Rivard

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