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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Welcome to 7 Woodland Place

Last week we presented the striking Federalist inspired home – 2 Woodland Place – by one of Grosse Pointes most prolific architects Robert O’Derrick.

This week we stay on Woodland Place, and explore another of the streets individualistic homes – 7 Woodland Place.

Originally designed by William Buck Stratton, 7 Woodland Place is arguably one of the more unique homes found in Grosse Pointe. It was completed in 1909 as a summer home of the Hazen S. Pingree family. Hazen S. Pingree was a four-term mayor of Detroit, a successful businessman, and the 24th Governor of the State of Michigan.

Hazen S. Pingree – Courtesy of Wikipedia

Pingree was a cobbler by trade. Having moved to Detroit in 1865 he established a successful shoe making company. By 1886, it was a 1 million dollar company with 700 employees turning out a half-million shoes and boots a year. It was the second biggest shoe manufacturer in the U.S. Source: Wikipedia.

In 1872 Pingree married Frances A. Gilbert and together they had three children. Hazen S. Pingree died in 1901, and so the summer home commissioned on Woodland Place was created for his wife and children.

It was the first house to be built on this once heavily wooded area. Mrs. Pingree hired one of Detroit’s most prominent architects, at the time, William Stratton, to design her new summer residence.

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. He was constantly at the forefront of the latest trends in commercial and residential design, which allowed him to create buildings that were ahead of their time. He designed many homes in Grosse Pointe, where his approach ranged from the formal to the informal, the traditional to the free flowing. Stratton was also known for his skill at adapting his style to the desires of his client, while stretching the brief as much as possible. You can read his full story by clicking here.

His design for 7 Woodland Place centered on the Dutch Colonial style, complete with gambrel rood and flared eaves – it is not clear how big the original home was.

7 Woodland Place – Courtesy of Grosse Pointe Historical Society.

In 1935 the Pingree family hired renowned Michigan architect Hugh T. Keyes to make extensive additions to the house to convert it from a summer home to a year-round residence. Keyes had a stellar reputation for making significant alterations to existing homes, and had undertaken several such projects in Grosse Pointe.

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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – William B. Stratton and 411 Country Club Drive

Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – William B. Stratton and 411 Country Club Drive.

The name William Buck Stratton is synonymous with Stratton House, however he was a multi talented designer and architect responsible for the design of many unique homes.

William Stratton was an architect known for his clear-cut forms, strong sense of materials, fondness for fine craftsmanship and importance of texture. He married Mary Chase Perry Stratton – co-founder of the Pewabic Pottery – in 1918 and together the two of them created Stratton House ­- the stunning bungalow/craftsman style home (located on Three-Mile Drive) that is known for its simple elegance, fine composition and harmonious design interactions between the house and the garden.

StrattonHouse_2

The Stratton’s were two nationally known individuals and William Stratton’s work around Grosse Pointe was gaining recognition throughout the community and Detroit.

Together with his business partner, Frank C. Baldwin, the firm of Stratton and Baldwin was the first firm in Michigan to consist of men trained in American architectural schools – (Baldwin – Boston Tech while Stratton graduated from Cornell University).

A particular talent of Stratton was his employment of architectural detail in his work while combining seemingly disparate elements into a harmonious whole, which was visible on many of his designs. His vigorous creative imagination allowed him to design houses that were ahead of their time.

A perfect example of this was Stratton and Baldwin’s work on the Frederick M, Alger House. Located on Jefferson Avenue, the house was built in 1908. From the entrance the house resembles a low, rambling one-and-a-half story English Farm House, while on the lakeside, banks of French doors open upon a terrace that extends the full length of the property. Alger house was considered ahead of its time in its functionality and attained a level of originality and charm that has rarely been seen in Grosse Pointe.

Displaying their design diversity, next door to Alger House was the Frank C. Baldwin house (also built in 1908), which was an English style manor house.

In 1923 Stratton used Colonial style as his source of inspiration at 365 University Place and in 1924 he created a Tudor style home for the Julian Harris House on Windmill Pointe Drive.

365 University Place

1931 saw Stratton create a new home for Mrs. Edward S. Bennett at 411 Country Club Lane. The 8,682 Sq Ft Colonial Style residence saw Stratton create a formal composition with large chimneys and a hipped roof with dormers. The 3-story home is constructed of cement on tile and as with all Stratton houses the level of detail was second to none, on the first floor the large library (19ft x 19ft) was lovingly finished in walnut panelling.

411

The huge living room (20ft x 42ft) was home to one of the six fireplaces that were found throughout the property, and the first floor also included a large study (12ft x 15ft) a maid’s room (12ft x 12ft) along with a dining room, a substantial pantry (9ft x 18ft), kitchen and breakfast room. The 8 bed, 7 bath home features beautiful quarter-sawn oak floors throughout along with solid mahogany and walnut doors. The house also features a 2-story staircase and a carriage apt with 2 bedrooms.

In 1954 the house was sold to Roy Chapin Jr. and still exists in all its glory having recently undergone an extensive renovation.

411_Coutnry Club

William B Stratton was a unique designer, and his talent for creating homes that were ahead of their time has never really received the recognition it deserved, in large part due to the ‘golden generation’ of architects who were working in Grosse Pointe at the time, but he now takes his place among the elite.

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

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).