Posts

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to 2 Woodland Place

Last week we explored the various projects of noted Detroit architect Roland C. Gies. He designed at least 5 homes (that we know of) in Grosse Pointe, and the original Bon Secours hospital.

We now turn our attention to one of Grosse Pointes most prolific architects Robert O’Derrick and his work at 2 Woodland Place, Grosse Pointe City.

Having designed over 25 homes throughout the Grosse Pointe Communities, Derrick was also responsible for two prominent school buildings, the ‘Little Club’, along with the Grosse Pointe Farms water filtration and pumping station.

Alongside Albert Kahn, Hugh T. Keyes, Marcus Burrowes, and J. Ivan Dise, Derrick was pivotal in changing the face of the architectural scene within the community during the 1920’s. The most prominent period of Derrick’s work in Grosse Pointe occurred during 1923 to 1931, and crossed several architectural styles.

Derrick’s work was extremely formal in its approach, and displayed superb attention to detail. The majority of his commissions were large residences for renowned businessmen. He was also a big fan of English stately homes. Having travelled to England in 1927 to study English Domestic Architecture, Derrick returned to the United States and created several wonderful Georgian inspired masterpieces on Vendome, Grosse Pointe Farms – 211, 168 and 70. However, it is his work at 2 Woodland Place that we are going to explore.

211 Vendome

168 Vendome

70 Vendome

2 Woodland Place was completed in 1928 for Frank Woodman Eddy – a prominent businessman in Detroit who had made his fortune from chemical and rubber manufacturing. Mr. Eddy was also the first president of the Detroit Athletic Club in 1887.

2 Woodland Place

Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – The Robert O. Derrick Homes on Provencal

Following on from our recent posts about the homes on Provencal – Number 41, Number 234 and the residences designed by Raymond Carey – we continue our review of this prestigious road with the homes designed by local architect Robert O. Derrick.

Courtesy of historicdetroit.org

Born in Buffalo, NY in 1890 Robert Ovens Derrick graduated with an architectural degree from the University of Columbia in 1917. Shortly after he arrived in the Metro Detroit area to begin what was to become a significant career in shaping the architectural scene of Grosse Pointe during the 1920’s.

Having completed his first project in the community, the ‘Little Club’ in 1923, Derrick went on to design over twenty five homes in the Grosse Pointe Communities, along with several community buildings.

Derrick lived and worked in Grosse Pointe, residing with his family at 407 Lincoln. He received many commissions by prominent businessmen in Metro Detroit who were looking to relocate their families out of the city to the increasingly popular distinguished superb of Grosse Pointe.

Arguably Derricks most productive and defining era occurred between 1923 and 1931, during which he worked in an array of architectural styles. The majority of his commissions were large residences, all of which are memorable, and still around today, including the homes he created on Provencal, which include:

  • 23 Provencal – 1924 – 4,829 sq ft
  • 248 Provencal – 1925 – 11,385 sq ft
  • 214 Provencal – 1925 – 11,767 sq ft
  • 204 Provencal – 1927 – 13,084 sq ft

Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to Kenwood Road – The Designers’ Collection: Part 1

Throughout our series of blog posts we regularly focus on the history of specific homes, profile individual designers and explore interesting roads.

This week we focus on the latter with an exploration of the first block of Kenwood Road, Grosse Pointe Farms, and its designer’s collection of beautifully crafted houses.

There are many roads in Grosse Pointe that have an abundance of homes created by some of Detroit’s most prominent architects – Bishop, Cloverly, Edgemont Park and Vendome being prime examples.

Kenwood is up there with the best of them, and may even lay claim to having the largest collection of homes – on one block – by the leading architectural talent of the 1920’s. With a road of such prominence we decided to separate the story of Kenwood Road into two parts starting with the homes created by the two most active architects on the block, Robert O. Derrick and Raymond Carey. Part 2 will explore the remaining houses generated by some equally talented designer’s.

The houses on Kenwood present an array of architectural styles, from Colonial Revival, Cotswold and Tudor through to French provincial.

Like so many of these prestigious streets, the beauty is in the details. As you head from Grosse Pointe Blvd and make your way towards Kercheval, many of these homes exhibit charming features, including the intricate brickwork on the chimney of house number 60, the superb classic Tudor entrance of house number 110, the fun weather vain at house number 90 and the decorative element on the pediment of number 63.

60 Kenwood_detail 110 Kenwood_entrance   Weather Vain  63 Kenwood

We begin our exploration of Kenwood with a look at the work of Robert O.Derrick, and the four homes he created – the largest contribution of any architect on the block.

Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to Vendome – Something Special – Part 2

After recently profiling the first block of Vendome – ‘something special: part one’ – we continue with our exploration of the stunning homes as we cross Kercheval and continue our journey up the next two blocks of this prestigious street in Grosse Pointe Farms.

The homes on display were created by some of the very best designers who came to work in Grosse Pointe Farms in the early 1920’s. During the first two decades of the 20th century and during the period after WW1 Grosse Pointe Farms had transformed itself from a rural, recreational community to an exclusive suburb in Southeast Michigan

For many cities in America the 1920’s proved to be a golden era of architectural significance. During this period the City of Grosse Pointe Farms underwent an architectural transformation, with many key businessmen from Detroit choosing to relocate to the area. One of the streets that drew some of the ‘big names’ is Vendome.

H.H. Micou – having already built two homes on the first block, Number 83 (1928), and Number 84 (1929), Hilary Herbert Micou built two further homes on Vendome during the same period, Number 162 (1928), and Number 176 (1929) – both are traditional Colonial homes.

162-Vendome-old

162 Vendome

House Number 176 is constructed from clapboard, and is a superb example of Colonial design. The 6,536 sq ft home consists of a gracious central entrance foyer (22’ x 24’ sq ft), a large wood paneled living room (27’ x 18’ sq ft) which includes a natural fireplace, a substantial dining room (20’ x 18’ sq ft) along with a library (20’ x 17’ sq ft) which provides access to the adjoining Florida room (21’ x 22’ sq ft). The first floor also includes a service bar room along with a dining room for the servants.

176-Vendome_old

176 Vendome_1

The second floor features 5 bedrooms, along with a servant’s wing that contains 3 further bedrooms and a rear service stairway. The impressive master bedroom (16’ x 26’) features a fireplace, and is adjoined by a dressing room and a morning sunroom. If you take a look at the roof you will notice this set of four perfectly proportioned arched dormer windows.

176-Vendome_1st-floor

176-Vendome_2nd-floor

176 Vendome_3

Read more

Welcome to Vendome – Something Special – Part 1

Continuing with our series of blog posts profiling the homes on a specific street, this week we explore the first block of Vendome, offering us a glimpse into something special.

Having recently profiled the classically designed homes on Cloverly, and the unique collection of homes on McKinley Place, Vendome presents us with an eclectic mix of houses of varying styles, created by some of Detroit’s finest architects. The architectural styles on display span French and English Colonial, French Provincial, Georgian, and Mid-Century Modern. With so many fine homes to explore we will start with the first block, before moving further up the road next week.

Many of the homes on the first block of Vendome were conceived during the late 1920’s – a golden era of architectural significance in Grosse Pointe Farms. This period attracted some of the big names from Detroit’s leading architectural firms, with many of them making their way to Vendome to create some truly stunning homes.

During the early 1930’s Vendome was home to many prominent residents, who were key figures in manufacturing in Detroit.

H.H Micou designed around 15 homes in Grosse Pointe, with 8 houses in Grosse Pointe Farms alone over a period of 4 years – 1927 (77 Moran) through to 1931 (301 Touraine). His style encompassed from Colonial, Tudor Revival and French Eclectic. Four of his homes can be found on Vendome. Two are on the first block next door to each other: Number 84 (1929) – a French Provincial home and Number 83 (1928), while two further homes are located at 162, and 176.

84-Vendome

84 Vendome

84 Vendome

84 Vendome

83 Vendome

83 Vendome

Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Architect – Robert O. Derrick

On our return to Grosse Pointe from our visit ‘Across the Pond’, we wanted to introduce you to one of the most prolific architects to work in Grosse Pointe, Robert Ovens Derrick.

With over 25 buildings to his name in the Grosse Pointe communities Derrick was a notable architect responsible for many superb homes, two prominent school buildings, the ‘Little Club’ along with the Grosse Pointe Farms water filtration and pumping station.

derrickDerrick lived with his family at 407 Lincoln Road Grosse Pointe, and was a well-known figure in the community. Born 1890 in Buffalo, NY he trained at Yale and Columbia Universities, graduating in 1917 with a degree in Architecture. It is unclear when he arrived in Grosse Pointe but it appears one of his first projects here was in 1923 when he was commissioned to design the Grosse Pointe Club, also known as the ‘Little Club’. The New England colonial character building provided the architect with a window to showcase his talents and many more commissions followed during the 1920’s, the boom era of architectural growth in Grosse Pointe.

Alongside Albert Kahn, Hugh T. Keyes, Marcus Burrowes and J. Ivan Dise, Derrick was changing the face of the architectural scene within the community.

In 1927 Derrick traveled to England to study English Domestic Architecture. A client accompanied him. It is not clear who the client was but it is possible it could have been F. Caldwell Walker who had recently hired Derrick to design a new home – 211 Vendome.

Read more

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Grosse Pointe Farms and the Roaring 20’s – Part 2: Popular Architectural Styles.

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Grosse Pointe Farms and the Roaring 20’s – Part 2: Popular Architectural Styles.

The 1920’s in Grosse Pointe Farms (GPF) were a time of change, prosperity, and architectural transformation. It was a golden era for the area in terms of the prominent architects who were being asked to commission homes in the community.

Their work was becoming just as important as the families who were hiring them and Grosse Pointe Farms ‘dream team’ of designers (featuring Robert O. Derrick, Hugh T. Keyes, H.H. Micou and J. Ivan Dise (to name but a few) were beginning to transform the look and feel of the community.

The Victorian homes of the late 1800’s (with the fluted wooden columns, the large bay windows and the horseshoe arches) and the vernacular houses of the early twentieth century were giving way to some of the finest examples of Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, French Eclectic, and Italian Renaissance architecture in the country.

Colonial Revival

Probably the most popular style in and around Grosse Pointe Farms in the 1920’s was Colonial Revival Homes. Colonial Revival homes are typically two stories, have a symmetrical front facade with an accented doorway, and evenly spaced windows on either side often in pairs or threes. Many homes borrow features from colonial period houses of the early 19th century and some of the best examples of this style can still be found around Grosse Pointe Farms today –

  • 23, 27 Beverly Road (1923 R.O Derrick)
  • 75 Kenwood (1926 R.O Derrick)
  • 168 Moran

 

Tudor Revival

The other style that proved to be just as important as the Colonial Revival in GPF is Tudor Revival Homes. Built in the early 1900’s through to the early 30’s Tudor Revival homes ranged from elaborate mansions to modest suburban properties. Within GPF they fall into three general categories – public buildings (schools and churches), stone houses (based loosely on the design of late medieval English manor houses) and homes based on the picturesque character of late medieval cottages and country homes.

The main characteristics of a Tudor Revival home are steeply pitched roofs with multiple gables, tall, narrow casement windows (which were often set in groups of three), stucco siding and distinctive stone detailing. Some of the best examples of Tudor Revival homes that can still be found around Grosse Pointe Farms are –

  • 53, 110 (Robert O. Derrick), 118, 215, 219 Cloverly Road
  • 78 Lakeshore Drive (1928 H.T. Keyes)
  • 242 Lewiston Road
  • 60 (1927 C. Giles), 109 (1929 G.D. Mason) 110 (1927 R.A. Colder), 130 (1926 J.I. Dise) 138 (1929 R. Carey) Kenwood Road.
  • 257  Ridge Road (1928 Albert Kahn)
  • 72  Touraine Road (1928 H.H. Micou).

 

French Eclectic

Another style that has many great examples in Grosse Pointe Farms is French Eclectic. This charming style took hold and became popular in the 1920’s and continued through the 1940’s. French Eclectic homes generally feature steeply pitched, hipped roofs that are often flared at the eaves. Constructed of brick, with covered porches (with a lot of detail) these homes usually feature massive chimneys and small-hipped roof dormers. One popular example is Richard Elementary School, while a much simpler example is Cottage Hospital (St John).

Houses located in the Farms that display many of the typical features of this style can be located at –

  • 69, 93 Cloverly Road
  • 90, 100 Kenwood Road
  • 44 Provencal Road.

Italian Renaissance

Finally, we couldn’t talk about this significant architectural period without mentioning the Italian Renaissance. GPF has a small collection of high quality examples of this style of architecture. A classic example is located at 44 Beverly Road, which displays all the characteristics you would expect from a Renaissance Style Home.

44 Beverly

The most interesting example is located at 221 Lewiston, which was designed by Hugh.T. Keyes in 1924 and while it is relatively unusual for period style houses of its type in Grosse Pointe Farms it is truly stunning.

221 Lewiston

 

The roaring 20’s… a Golden Era of Architectural significance in Grosse Pointe Farms thanks to the prominent architects and their varied designs that feature so wonderfully in the community today – we hope you enjoy locating the many building we have mentioned.

 

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).

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Grosse Pointe Farms and the Roaring 20’s – Part 1: the architects.

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Grosse Pointe Farms and the Roaring 20’s – Part 1: the architects.

The roaring 20’s..boom time for many cities in America and a Golden Era of Architectural significance in Grosse Pointe Farms.

During the first two decades of the 20th century and during the period after WW1 Grosse Pointe Farms had transformed itself from a rural, recreational community to an exclusive suburb in Southeast Michigan. The area, up until that point, had been a haven for summer recreational cottages for wealthy Michigan families, who wanted to spend their summers on the lake. However, during the 20’s things began to change and the once hotspot for vacations was being transformed into a year round neighborhood for affluent Detroiters.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the vernacular houses that were visible around Grosse Pointe Farms were typical of the homes found in Southeast Michigan and their architectural style was readily identifiable. However, as American prospered, the 1920’s in Grosse Pointe Farms ushered in a new style of architecture. Homes started to become a lot more varied in their style thanks to the prominent architects who were coming to the area to work on non-residential buildings and houses in the community.

Robert O. Derrick  Albert Kahn  John Russell Pope  Charles A. Platt  C. Howard Crane

The most popular architectural style was Colonial Revival and it was architect Robert O.Derrick who used this style most frequently in his Grosse Pointe designs.

Robert O. Derrick was a prominent architect known for his design of period style buildings. He designed more buildings in Grosse Pointe Farms than any other architect, and twenty of his buildings still exist. The majority of his buildings were designed in Colonial Revival style, while a few where in a Tudor Revival style.

H.H. Micou designed eleven buildings in Grosse Pointe Farms in four years. His 4 homes on Vendome and three on Touraine sill exist today and like Derrick, his style was predominantly Colonial and Tudor Revival along with French Eclectic.

The work of Hugh T. Keys also featured heavily in the Farms in the late 1920’s. His pièce de résistance was undoubtedly his Italian Renaissance inspired home at 221 Lewiston. Keys also had a passion for Colonial and Tudor Revival designs – 78 Lakeshore Drive being a prime example.

221 Lewiston  78 Lakeshore

Detroit based architect J. Ivan Dise created three houses on Kenwood, one on Cloverly and a further house on Country Club Lane between 1926- 1929.

Other prominent architects, who were not necessarily known for their work on residential properties also began to create some wonderful homes in the Farms. C.Howard Crane – who specialized in the design of movie places in North America – designed homes at 63, 69 and 79 Cloverly. While innovative industrial designer Albert Kahn designed homes at 8 Carmel Lane, 28 McKinley Place and 257 Ridge Road to name but a few.

63 Cloverly  69 Cloverly

Not to be forgotten nationally known architects, who already had significant works on Lakeshore, also had residential projects in the Farms – John Russell Pope (designer of the Roy D. Chapin Residence at 447 Lake Shore Road) designed a Colonial Revival home at 300 Provencal in 1928. While Charles A. Platt (famed for his work on Alger House at the GP War Memorial in 1910) created 99 Lothrop in 1928.

The influence these architects had on the architectural style of homes and buildings in Grosse Pointe Farms was astonishing. Their focus on Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival designs lead a transformation in the style of homes that were built throughout the community, which not only lead to a consistent look and feel but continued in smaller, simpler homes by architects who were less known.

Some of the best examples of Colonial Revival buildings that can still be found around Grosse Pointe Farms are –

Non-residential buildings:

littleclub

Punch and Judy exterior

Residential Homes:

  • 180 Ridge Road (1926 R.O Derrick)
  • 248 Provencal (1925 R.O Derrick)
  • 411 Country Club Lane (1932 William B. Stratton)
  • 194 Provencal (1934 Raymond D. Carey)
  • 226 Provencal (1941 Frank Miles)
  • 309 Lake Shore Drive (1949 John L. Pottle)

Additional examples are located at:

  • 23, 27 Beverly Road (1923 R.O Derrick)

23 Beverly  27 Beverly

  • 210 Cloverly
  • 181 Earl Court
  • 56 (1928 H.H. Micou), 70 (1927 R.O Derrick), 75 (1926 R.O Derrick), 120 (1926 R.O Derrick), 135 (1926 R.O Derrick) Kenwood Road

56 Kenwood  70 Kenwood

75 Kenwood 120 Kenwood

135 Kenwood

 

We will be will continuing with the exploration of the architectural styles in Grosse Pointe Farms next week, with an in-depth look at the Colonial Revival style along with other popular architectural styles that featured so heavily in the roaring 20’s.

 

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).

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – F. Caldwell Walker House, aka the Vendome Mansion.

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – F. Caldwell Walker House, aka the Vendome Mansion.

We have so enjoyed covering the work of notable architect Robert O. Derrick we thought we would cover one more of his projects – the F. Caldwell Walker House, also known as the Vendome Mansion.

derrickHaving lived in Grosse Pointe for a number of years Robert O.Derrick had become a prominent figure and his buildings had become distinctive features within the Grosse Pointe Communities. Derrick lived with his family at 407 Lincoln Road in Grosse Pointe. Born in 1890 he graduated from Columbia University with an architecture degree in 1917 and was a member of the American Institute of Architects. When F. Caldwell Walker, grandson of whiskey baron Hiram Walker, commissioned the property Derrick had already completed the ‘Little Club” (1923) “Bellmoor”, 15420 Windmill Pointe (1927), and was in the process of designing the Punch and Judy Theater.

Derrick selected a Colonial Georgian style for the new home*, and construction on the 18,158 Sq ft mansion commenced in 1928. Hiram Walker had passed away in 1899 and the distillery was sold in 1926. As an heir to the fortune F. Caldwell Walker wanted a build a grand home and decided to build Vendome Mansion.

At the time Walker was living in Pasadena, a place where many Grosse Pointer socialites travelled. According to numerous sources Walker did not have an occupation (that anyone could recall) and his various bad habits got him into scrapes with the law.

Despite the trouble out west, Walker’s new property in Grosse Pointe was taking shape. Set on two and a half acres of land Derrick had set about building an incredible estate for the whiskey heir.

211 Vendome_1

Built from red brick and stone, the properties classical features include a stone entrance porch with iconic columns, and urn’s set in stone niches flank the main entrance. The unique architecture elements of the property include balusters on the roofline, and a Palladian facade, which divides the first and second stories along the front of the home. The large windows on the first floor are set within striking stone arches and each individual element on the front of the home balances each other impeccably well.

vendome_3 copy

Second Floor

Inside, the property is just as impressive as the outside. Grand formal areas designed for entertaining on a large scale are present throughout, and rich architectural detailing and distinctive elements are visible in nearly every room. The ten fireplaces take center stage along with 14-foot ceilings on the first floor and a beautiful sweeping staircase to the second floor. The gallery leads to a maple-paneled library with its hand built walnut bookshelves, while the living room and regal dining room contain a fireplace along with wide-planked hardwood flooring. In addition there is an eight-car garage and two apartments for live-in staff or guests.

The property was completed in 1929 however Walker would never move into his new home. Between prohibition, the Great Depression and his own spending habits, Walker lost the house to the bank (before construction was complete) and moved back to California.

Vendome was left unfinished and sat empty for a number of years until Wendell Anderson, president of Bundy Tubing moved in and became the home’s first owner. He brought the house from the bank – for a reputed $125,000 ($85,000 cash and the rest in trade) and hired Belgian craftsmen to finish the ornamental plaster and rich woodwork inside. It took three years to complete.

The home changed hands just once more when it was sold to the Simon family who are the current owners. Despite being 85 years old the house has only had two long-term owners who have meticulously cared for this wonderful building.

vendome_2

The grand estate remains today and is currently for sale with Higbie Maxon Agney. For full details on the property please visit the full listing on the HMA website.

*An excellent example of this style of architecture in North America is the Hammond-Harwood House.

We will be continuing the series with another extraordinary building next week.

 

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).

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – the Punch and Judy Theater, Grosse Pointe Farms.

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – the Punch and Judy Theater, Grosse Pointe Farms.

After covering several projects by architect Robert O. Derrick – lets take a look at another of his prominent creations – the Punch and Judy Theater.

Residential architect and designer of the Henry Ford Museum Robert O. Derrick was becoming a prominent architect in Grosse Pointe, having designed the ‘Little Club” (1923) and “Bellmoor”, 15420 Windmill Pointe (1927) along with several other residences including:

  • 211 Vendome
  • 70 Vendome
  • Edwin H. Brown House
  • Ledyard Mitchell House
  • Grosse Pointe Farms Water Filtration and Pumping Station

In 1929 the Columbia University educated architect and Grosse Pointe resident was commissioned to design the Punch and Judy Theater in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Movies theaters during that era were going through a transition – from silent to sound motion pictures. During this transformation, in the winter of 1930, the Punch and Judy Theater opened on Kercheval.

Punch and Judy exterior

Grosse Pointe already had a popular movie theater (The Grosse Pointe Park Theater, just inside the GP border on Charlevoix, which had began operating as early as 1923), however the opening of the new theater prompted a lot of public interest, including an article from the Detroit news, published three days before the theater opened:

A few glances are all that are necessary to realize that the Punch and Judy was designed with a homelike comfort as its chief attribute. There is nothing of the elaborate appeal of the standard movie house in its Early American outline. It is more a place to feel at home amid dignified and subdued coloring, modest lighting effects and seating arrangements in harmony with the quiet atmosphere.

derrickDerrick selected his favored Colonial Georgian style for the new building, which gave it the look of a Virginia country manor rather than a traditional movie house. The exterior was brick; it had a high roof and shutters covered the windows. Inside the walls were plain, the lounge featured wood paneling (with gold borders), and pegged flooring while spacious fireplaces emphasized the architectural style. Outside an inconspicuous sign was suspended over the main entranceway displaying the sign of the new movie house.

At the time it opened the theater was one-tenth the size of larger theaters. There were 504 seats on the main floor and 96 on the balcony (the smoking “loge”) – which was the only legal smoking section in a movie theater in the State of Michigan – thus resulting in a higher ticket price than the seats on the main floor.

The article from the Detroit News described the care and detail the theater’s builders had gone to in order to insure superior sound production:

Acoustical experts of the University of Michigan supervised the insulation of walls and arrangement of the projection and speaking apparatus. A layer of felt in the ceiling and the use of special materials assure the efficiency of the talkie equipment, which is the most modern to be had.

When the theater opened the Punch and Judy was equipped with an organ along with both Vitaphone and Movietone sound apparatus. Later that year the Vitaphone system was removed when nationwide standardization of sound equipment adopted the use of optical soundtracks.

The projection booth in the theater had two carbon arc projectors, at least one spotlight and a smaller projector for displaying lyrics on the screen during sing-alongs.

Punch & Judy Theatre, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI.

Punch and judy_hallway

punch and judy_camers

 

The theater proved to be a popular place for matinees and became a leader in the area or matinees specially designed for children, which began in February 1930 and would continue until 1981. From 1930 until shortly before 1936 films were changed twice a week, with three performances daily, at 2:30, 7:30 and 9:00 pm. Ticket prices ranged from 25¢ for children (at all times), 50¢ for adults for matinees, 75¢ for evening shows and $1.00 at all times for the reserved seats in the smoking “loge”.

During the 1940’s and 50’s the theater had many upgrades to its sound and projection equipment in order to keep up to date with the change in movie production – magnetic soundtracks, 70mm film, 3D and widescreen movies along with Cinemascope film. In 1955 ‘A Man Called Peter’ became the first Cinemascope film to be screened at the theater.

Through its history the building itself received very few alterations. The biggest change came in the 1940’s when a marquee was added and the original square lobby was changed to a rounded shape. In the 1960’s the marquee was lowered and a new awning added. The front doors were also replaced; the wood paneling that had surrounded them was covered in brick in 1962. In 1969 red draperies were installed, the lobbies were re-carpeted and the red seats recovered.

In 1973 the theater installed its first concession stand and an arcade was installed in the lobby during the late 70’s (this was removed in 1981). In 1977 the theater had new owners but sadly they soon closed the theater due to huge financial loses. Several attempts were made to reinvent the theater but all rebuffed by the City in some way.

Punchand judy_owners_LOU BITONTI AND LARRY LYMAN

 

punch and judy_act_1

In 1981, under a new owner, the Classic Film Theater took over operations at the theater, and opened with the film ‘Casablanca’. However time had begun to take its toll on the building, in 1984 some of the main floor seats had to be removed, the auditorium was in need of painting, the upstairs lounge was being used as a store room and the balcony was closed due to the partial collapse of the ceiling above it. The theater closed for good on September 16, 1984. In 1986 it was gutted and converted into offices.

Today the exterior of the building still retains its original charm, and residents of Grosse Pointe who have lived in the community for years, fondly remember some of the wonderful films they watched at the Punch and Judy Theater.

Punch&judy today

You can ready the full history of the Punch and Judy Theater in the excellent article by Carrie Jones.

We will be continuing the series with another extraordinary building next week.

 

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).