Last week we journeyed back to the late nineteenth century and explored the Queen Anne style home of prominent Detroiter Henry Brockholst Ledyard.
This week we would like to introduce you to another prominent Detroiter with Ledyard in his name – Mr. William Ledyard Mitchell, and his home at 180 Ridge, Grosse Pointe Farms.
William Ledyard Mitchell, born in Cincinnati, 1881, was a key player in the auto industry during the 1920’s and 1930’s - as secretary and vice president in charge of manufacturing for Chrysler after it was formed to succeed the old Maxwell Motor Corporation (in 1925). Source: The New York Times. In 1926 he became general manager, and in 1929 he was named board chairman of the export division. Three years later, in 1932, William Ledyard Mitchell became chairman of the board of Chrysler Corporation of Canada. Prior to co-founding Chrysler Mr. Mitchell graduated from Yale (in 1904), and worked in the furniture industry in Cincinnati before joining the Maxwell Motor Corporation in 1917. Image courtesy of findagrave.com
Prior to moving to Grosse Pointe William Ledyard Mitchell resided in the affluent community of Indian Village, 771 Seminole Avenue. Image courtesy of flickr.com
It appears Mr. Mitchell’s first residence in Grosse Pointe was 7 Berkshire Place. In 1925 he commissioned the renowned Robert O. Derrick to design a new home at 180 Ridge.
Robert O. Derrick lived with his family at 407 Lincoln Road Grosse Pointe, and was a well-known figure in the community. With over 25 buildings to his name in Grosse Pointe Derrick created many superb homes, school buildings, the ‘Little Club’ along with the Grosse Pointe Farms water filtration and pumping station.
180 Ridge is a striking 6,208 sq ft residence constructed from wood shingle, with a wood shingle roof. The first floor features a large 32’ x 23’ living room, a substantial 19’ x 23’ dining room, and a covered terrace on the side of the home. The second floor consists of a large 14’ x 24’ sitting room, and five bedrooms (the master bedroom is 15’ x 23’ sq ft). On the third floor there were an additional four bedrooms for maids. The design of this home was a significant departure from Derrick’s signature formal and impactful brick homes, but displays his meticulous attention to detail, and his ability to switch between architectural styles.
The garden was designed by leading New York landscape architect Ruth Bramley Dean. Ms Dean, born in Pennsylvania, 1889, designed many gardens for the prominent residents of Long Island, including Grey Gardens around 1913. In 1915 she opened her first office in New York. She designed three gardens in Grosse Pointe (all probably completed just before 1929) – 180 Ridge, 354 University Place, the third address is not known. In 1929 these three projects lead to her being awarded the prestigious Gold Medal from the Architectural League of New York - the first woman to receive this important accolade. Source: Long Island Landscapes and the Women Who Designed Them, By Cynthia Zaitzevsky.
William Mitchell and his wife Sara had five children, two sons and three daughters. His eldest son William Ledyard Mitchell Jr. resided at 61 Kenwood, while his younger son, Sherman, lived at 62 Cloverly.
Prior to his death, in 1964, it appears William Mitchell and his family resided in at least one further residence in Grosse Pointe Farms – 60 Merriweather, which was his registered address when he died.
William Ledyard Mitchell was an extraordinary man, and like so many other prominent Grosse Pointe residents he left a lasting legacy on the city of Detroit.
*Photos courtesy of the Higbie Maxon Agney archives unless stated.
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).