Having recently explored the early 20th century cottages on St Clair Avenue, this week we focus on the imposing 1920’s constructions on Ridge Road.
Ridge Road, in Grosse Pointe Farms, is one of the communities more distinctive streets, running through the heart of the Farms.
Based on research by the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, we understand, in 1885, most of the land between Ridge and Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Farms, was a heavily wooded swamp that extended several miles north and south. The land near Ridge was also used for farming purposes. The nuns at the Grosse Pointe Academy (known as the Sacred Heart Academy in that era) owned the land from the convent, via Kenwood, all the way to Ridge Road, and used much of it for farming.
Fast forward 30 years and the 1920’s in Grosse Pointe Farms were a time of change, prosperity, and architectural transformation. It was a golden era for the area in terms of growth.
The following homes are a handful of properties we have selected to feature. Many noted architects who had a substantial reputation, both locally and in some cases nationally, were commissioned to design them.
Number 175 – Burrowes and Eurich – 1922
The duo of Marcus Burrowes and Frank Eurich created their firm in 1920, and together they designed around 10 homes in Grosse Pointe. During this era Burrowes was widely known throughout southeast Michigan for his English Tudor Revival Style homes, however his 6,0101 sq ft house on Ridge was more in keeping with a stately Georgian Colonial approach. It features superb architectural detailing inside and out.
Number 174 – Robert O’Derrick – 1923
Designed by one of the most prominent architects in Grosse Pointe, this 4,018 sq ft displays one of the most popular architectural styles in Grosse Pointe Farms during this era – a large, symmetrical brick built Colonial home.
This was O’Derrick’s signature style. He designed over 25 homes throughout the Grosse Pointe communities, along with the ‘Little Club’ and the Grosse Pointe Farms water filtration and pumping station. You can read his full story here.
Number 166 – D. Allen Wright – 1927
D. Allen Wright designed at least 15 houses (that we know of) in Grosse Pointe. Many of these residences are large French inspired homes, which include this house 4,945 sq ft house on Ridge.
Wright’s designs, between 1926 and 1930, were based on French architectural styles, typically French Normandy and Provencal. The French Normandy country house was the primary inspiration for the American Norman style. It began to become popular shortly after the First World War when French chateaus were a model of inspiration. Typical traits of this approach include a round stone tower toped by a conical cone-shaped roof, a steeply pitched roof, stone façade, an arched opening to the main entrance, tall narrow chimneys along with an asymmetrical configuration to the home.
Number 207 – Charles Noble – 1928
This versatile architect was very productive in the city of Detroit during the 1920’s, creating several iconic buildings, including the Lee Plaza Hotel. Here in Grosse Pointe Farms Charles Noble created at least four homes that we know of, including 226 Moran and 207 Ridge Road.
This 2,766 sq ft early American style home features a steeply pitched roof and a half brick, half-timber façade.
Number 273 – Albert Kahn – 1928
This unique French Norman inspired home is one of the most individual homes in Grosse Pointe and is a shining example of Kahn’s creative genius. At 7,437 sq ft, this grand three-story stone construction features a dominating conical tower, a steep roof constructed of slate, and intricate stone detailing on many of the exterior surfaces. The level of detail above the front door and the windows is sublime.
The interior of the home is just as unique. The first floor consists of a large reception room, a sunken living room with parquet floor (32’ x 19’), a substantial library (17’ x 14’) and an adjoining sunroom (12’ x 15’). Also on the first floor is a dining room (17’ x 20’), a marbled floor conservatory, kitchen with breakfast room and a butler’s pantry.
Number 180 – Robert O’Derrick – 1929
Designed by one of the most prominent architects in Grosse Pointe, this striking 6,208 sq ft house on Ridge Road is constructed from wood shingle, with a wood shingle roof. The long floor plan 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. It is a significant departure from O’Derrick’s signature formal and impactful brick homes, but displays his meticulous attention to detail, and his ability to switch between architectural styles.
Number 257 – Albert Kahn – 1929
The Tudor style residence was built for the phenomenally successful sheet-music publisher, Jerome H. Remick. The magnificent 9,346 sq ft home is constructed of limestone and brick with a slate roof. There is an attached four car heated garage with a chauffeur’s apartment. The first floor consists of a marble floored foyer (20’ x 16’) a large open hallway, a living room (23’ x 35’) – said to closely resemble the living room in the Edsel & Eleanor Ford Home at 1100 Lakeshore – featuring oak paneling, sculptured plaster 10’ ceilings, oak paneling, and herringbone-patterned oak floors. There is also a substantial dining room (20’ x 25’) and a library (16’ x 27’), along with a large kitchen.
The sublime homes on Ridge Road helped characterize what Grosse Pointe Farms was in the roaring 20’s – a playground for some of Detroit’s finest architectural talent(s).
Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2017 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).