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Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Lothrop, an elegant street

Posted by Darby Moran on Monday, June 4th, 2018 at 2:11pm.

Last week we explored the superb lost estate of 15440 Windmill Pointe, the former home to real estate mogul Herbert V. Book, and later Charles Helin, the fishing lure entrepreneur.

This week we head to Grosse Pointe Farms, and to one of the communities most elegant streets – Lothrop. Running from Grosse Pointe Blvd the street meanders through Grosse Pointe Farms, ending at the top of Moran Rd, close to Mack Avenue.

We will be focusing on several homes on the first block, built within a period of 20 years - between 1928 and 1948. Despite being constructed across three different decades each of these homes has a wonderful individual elegance to them.

Lets start with number 99, created by distinguished architect Charles A. Platt. He was a self-trained architect, and is considered one of America’s more influential landscape designers. Allen F. Edwards commissioned 99 Lothrop, and it was Edwards second project with Platt. It is reported the project cost roughly $2m (roughly $29m today) when the project was completed in 1928.

It is a stately manor home, in the colonial style, constructed of brick with a slate roof. The 8,000-sqft residence features a large living room (21ft x 36ft), dining room (21ft x 19ft), kitchen (12ft x 21ft) and a library (19ft x 17ft) on the first floor. There are 9 bedrooms in total, 7 on the second floor (which included 2 bedrooms for the maids) and 2 further bedrooms on the third floor. Platt brought in renowned landscape designer Ellen Shipman – known for her formal gardens and lush planting style – to create the garden. Shipman was a familiar face in Grosse Pointe having previously worked on the gardens at Rose Terrace (in 1926), and ‘Lake Terrace’ – the John S Newberry House (in 1911).

Prior to his work at Lothrop, Charles Platt had created several prestigious homes in the community, including: –17315 East Jefferson (for Mrs. Arthur McGraw House, 1927), 241 Lake Shore (for Henry Stephen’s, 1913) and 32 Lake Shore (Alger House, now the Grosse Pointe War memorial in 1910).

Number 75 is a 4,714 sq ft home built in 1937 by the partnership of Derrick and Gamber. Robert O. Derrick was one of Grosse Pointes most well known and prolific architects with over 25 buildings to his name across the Grosse Pointe communities. Having previously held the position of Vice President at the Detroit firm of Brown, Derrick and Preston, he embarked on several solo projects before teaming up with Branson V. Gamber. 

Born in 1893 Gamber was educated at the Drexel Institute of Art and Science in Philadelphia. It is unclear when he relocated to Detroit, but it is believed he joined the firm of Robert O. Derrick in the early 1930’s. Together they received several prestigious commissions across the Detroit Metropolitan area. Arguably their most noted project came from Henry Ford I, who hired the duo to create an exact copy of Independence Hall (in Philadelphia) at Greenfield Village, in Dearborn. Source: A History of Detroit's Palmer Park, by Gregory C. Piazza. A further project of note was the art deco inspired Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse (231 W. Lafayette Blvd, opened in 1934). You can read the full story about Robert O. Derrick by clicking here.

76 Lothrop (formerly 20 Lothrop) is a wonderful stately English Colonial designed in 1938 by Frank A. Miles for George O. Johnston. It is a striking home with exquisite detailing inside and out. The marble foyer leads through to a 2-story sweeping staircase that features a skylight at the top. Many of the first floor rooms feature wood paneling, dentil moldings, and carved trim. The home includes separate powder rooms on the first floor, a large living room (30’ x 23’), a substantial dining room (18’ x 24’), four large main bedrooms, and three additional small bedrooms for maids. The historical photos below are from the archives at the Library of Congress.

Frank A. Miles designed over 15 homes in the Grosse Pointe communities. We will be featuring more of his work soon.

Finally, talented architect Edmond E. Primeau completed number 86 in 1949. He worked on a variety of projects including numerous residences, office buildings, and medical centers in and around Detroit and the surrounding suburbs.

The large 7,142 sq ft home contains six main bedrooms, three further bedrooms for maids, along with several large rooms on the first floor – living room (27” x 17’), dining room (19’ x 16’), family room (28’ x 16”) and a screened porch. 

Lothrop is an elegant street with many elegant homes. These four historic residences offer a taste of the charming estates this street has to offer, and we will be exploring more in the future.

Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2018 Higbie Maxon Agney & Katie Doelle

If you have a home, building or street 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). 

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