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…

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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…

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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…

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Having recently focused on the modernist work of Alexander Girard we turn our attention to the more traditional styling’s from the firm of Harold C. Beckett and William R. Akitt.

The firm of Beckitt and Akitt practiced in Detroit from 1920 until 1934. The firm primarily specialized in designing large residences in Michigan, including Metro Detroit, and at least six homes in Grosse Pointe.

Harold Beckett was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1890. Having moved to Toronto in 1910 he worked as an assistant at the architectural firm of Wickson and Gregg. In 1912 Beckett moved to New York City to study architecture at Columbia University, graduating in 1915. After serving in Europe with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces during WW1 Beckett relocated to…

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Last week we covered the exceptional home, 232 Lothrop, created by the extremely talented artist Alexander Girard.

Described as one of the most important, prolific and influential textile designers of the twentieth century, Girard was also extremely skilled as an architect, interior, product, and graphic designer.

Alexander Girard (early 1950’s) – Courtesy of Vitra Design Museum

This week we focus on Girard’s other architectural projects in Grosse Pointe. Aside from designing the modern contemporary home located at 232 Lothrop (1951), Girard also created two further homes on Lothrop – number 222 (1948) and 234 (1949), along with 55 Vendome in 1951. All of his projects were created in his signature contemporary modern style, which was…

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This is the story of an exceptional home in Grosse Pointe Farms. Some of you might remember this work of art, while for others this will be an introduction to a modern contemporary masterpiece.

232 Lothrop was built in 1951, but was razed several years ago. This one of a kind home was commissioned by Dr. George Rieveschl, a research chemist, and was the product of two masters of modern architecture. Alexander Girard designed the original home, while William Kessler extensively remodeled the property in 1959 (at a reported cost of $250,000 – around $2million today).

Situated on a secluded wooded ridge of over one and a half acres the residence was located on the highest point of land in Grosse Pointe Farms on a magnificent pine shaded site. Each…

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Last week we introduced you to some of the hidden homes on the lake in Grosse Pointe Shores. Many of these homes, constructed between 1900 and 1918, are concealed from the road, and their elegance remains hidden. The construction of these homes spans many years, and we would like to continue with our exploration with the introduction of several more superb properties constructed between 1923 and 1934.

Grosse Pointe Shores has undergone a number of transitions over the years, in terms of growth, population, and being recognized as a community in its own right. By the 1920’s Grosse Pointe Shores was establishing itself as a haven for some of Detroit’s wealthiest families. The area had witnessed the construction of numerous grand homes, with many having…

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Over the past couple of weeks we have focused on the grand Lake Shore estates’, exploring the home of Mrs. Henry Stephens, and the five superb buildings constructed in Grosse Pointe Shores by legendary architect Albert Kahn.

This week we stay in Grosse Pointe Shores to bring you some of the hidden homes on the Lake.

As you drive along Jefferson and approach the Ford house you will have noticed the long driveways, and possibly caught a glimpse of the superb homes that line this part of the lake. The construction of these homes spans many years, yet many of these homes remain a mystery, concealed by the beautiful landscaped gardens that hide their full glory.

The smallest of the Grosse Pointe communities, Grosse Pointe Shores has developed rapidly…

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Each week we ask for suggestions of homes, buildings and streets you would like us to profile. This week we focus on one of our recent requests – the grand estate of Mrs. Henry Stephens – 241 Lake Shore.

At the beginning of the Twentieth Century Grosse Pointe Farms was in the midst of a substantial transformation from a summer colony to a year-round residential community. The growing desire for many of Detroit’s wealthy residents to move out of the city to the suburbs was well underway. The area evolved quickly, the ribbon farms and summer cottages were replaced with grand estates and formal landscaped gardens – most visibly on Lake Shore.

One of the more notable arrivals was the estate for Mrs. Henry Stephens (wife of lumber baron Henry Stephens…

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Probably one of the most elegant and sought after residential buildings in the community is the Detroit Towers.

Constructed in 1925, the distinctive eighteen-story red brick and cast stone tower that is overlooking the Detroit River – offering some of the best views in the city.

Built in the Roaring Twenties for luxurious living (at an estimated cost of $1.6 million – around $22m today) the 18-story building contains thirty-four large units, two per floor. Each unit contains 9 rooms including servant’s quarters, and is around 2,400-2,800 sq ft.

Chicago architect Walter W. Aschlager designed the structure. He had a stellar reputation, and was nationally known for his design of hotels, skyscrapers and motion picture palaces.…

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