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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to St Clair Avenue – Part 2

Last week we explored several homes on St. Clair Avenue, Part 1 – the early cottages that were constructed at the beginning of the 20th century.

This week we continue our exploration of more homes on the street, along with sharing a brief history of one of Grosse Pointe’s oldest schools.

The homes we have chosen to profile this week continue with the them of the first post – in that they were built between 1900 – 1916, and display characteristics of Colonial, Craftsman and Victorian architectural styles.

However, lets start with one of Grosse Pointe’s oldest schools – located at 389-399 St. Clair Avenue. The Cadieux School – now referred to as the Grosse Pointe Schools Administrative Buildings – was built in 1905-1906, by the renowned architectural firm of Stratton and Baldwin. Based on research by Grosse Pointe Historical Society, the school was named the Cadieux School after the Cadieux family who resided in the Village. Francis Cadieux served as the District No. 1 School Inspector for 33 years.

It was the second school building to be built around this era for the Grosse Pointe School’s (District #1). The original two-story building was home to eight classrooms, and around 240 pupils. In 1916-18, a north building, 399 St Clair, was added for the school to increase its capacity. By 1924 the two buildings catered for students of all ages, from kindergarten through to twelfth grade.

Over the years the buildings have undergone numerous updates and renovations. Between 2002-2003 the buildings underwent major changes, which included fully connecting the two sections. Source: Grosse Pointe Historical Society.

Of the handful of schools built in this era only two original buildings remain – the Cook School on Mack and the Cadieux School on St. Clair.

It wasn’t just the school that was being constructed at the turn of the twentieth century; more homes were also being built. Prior to 1905 five of the oldest homes on the street had been completed – numbers 475, 469, 569 were built in 1901, while 479 and 547 were constructed in 1903.

469 St Clair Avenue – Courtesy of Google.com

547 St Clair Avenue – Courtesy of Google.com

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to St Clair Avenue – Part 1

There are so many wonderful and interesting streets in Grosse Pointe, we have already shared the stories of several of them – Vendome, Kenwood, Middlesex, Harbor Hill and Bishop to name but a few.

This week we turn our attention to the first block of St Clair Avenue, in Grosse Pointe City. Whilst many of the properties found in Grosse Pointe during this era were ‘turn of the century’ summer cottages’ located on the lake, the homes on St Clair were created to be year round residences.

As you journey up St Clair, from Jefferson, you will notice the design of many of these homes are unique to this road. The majority were constructed at the beginning of the 20th century, and a number of the residences were created as workers cottages. Very few streets in Grosse Pointes demonstrate this architectural style, and what makes this road even more special is that many of the homes are still the original creations from this era.

With so many homes to explore we will start with a number of homes on the first block – off Jefferson – before investigating more next week.

St Clair Ave, in the late 1800’s, was one of the routes used by the streetcars of the Grosse Pointe Electric Railway. The original line ran from East Jefferson Avenue in Detroit to Cadillac to Mack, along Mack to St. Clair Avenue. It was instrumental in the development of Grosse Pointe during his era, providing a vital connection to Detroit. By 1898 a new service, the Detroit, Lake Shore, and Mount Clemens Railway, known as the Interurban, ran down Grosse Pointe Blvd to Provincial, and ultimately onto Mount Clemens. Source: Grosse Pointe Historical Society.

Many of the homes on St Clair are constructed from wood, and designed in either an early Colonial approach, Victorian or are loosely based on the craftsman style. Most of the residences are around 2,000 sq ft. The Craftsmen style great influenced small house design at the beginning of the twentieth century, providing an overall effect that has been described as natural, warm, and livable.

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