Last week, in anticipation of the Grosse Pointe Historical Societies annual gala, we revisited the historic road of Woodland Place, a narrow street, paved with bricks, and home to several unique residences. The majority of the homes constructed in the 1920’s (5 in total) were built by just a handful of noted architects.
This week we take a closer look at 2 Woodland Place, the venue of the gala on June 22. Completed in 1928, 2 Woodland Place sits on 1.4 acres and overlooks Lake St. Clair. It was architect Robert O. Derrick’s third project on the street.
2 Woodland Place is a striking home, created for Florence T. Eddy, widow of Frank Woodman Eddy – a prominent businessman in Detroit who had made his fortune from chemical and rubber manufacturing. He was also the first president of the Detroit Athletic Club in 1887, he passed on June 12, 1914. Robert O. Derrick designed 2 Woodland Place in the Federal architectural style. The typical form of this architectural approach is based on a simple rectangular structure with a flat façade. It has been suggested by many historians that the Federal style is a refinement of the Georgian style, however, compared to the more elaborate Georgian style many Federal inspired homes are notably understated. In general, exterior decorative elements are limited; usually the most decorated part of the exterior is the front entrance. The image below was taken in 1937 before the alterations were made.
The home has an imposing entrance that immediately greets you at the end of this exclusive dead-end street. Constructed from brick the front of the 8,081 sq ft residence features an abundance of large windows across the front elevation, arranged individually in strict horizontal and vertical symmetry. We understand the house was commissioned by Florence T. Eddy. The couple married in 1879 and had three children. Mrs. Eddy passed on June 13, 1939. The following year 2 Woodland Place was sold to settle the Eddy estate. The new owner was Emory Moran Ford, Sr., the great grandson of John Baptiste Ford - part of the “Chemical Ford” family.
In 1941, Mr. Ford hired the talented and noted architect Hugh T. Keyes to make extensive alterations to the house. Our files describe the house as being “completely rebuilt.” After Keyes had finished, the first floor included an impressive, yet narrow 31’ x 12’ sq ft hallway, while both the 17’ x 23’ sq ft dining room and the 22’ x 22’ sq ft living room (located at the rear of the home) had bay windows overlooking the lake. The rear elevation also included a large greenhouse (possibly a later addition), terrace and a decent sized 12’ x 24’ sq ft morning room. The second floor had four large bedrooms, each one had its own separate dressing room, and there was also a 9’x 14’ sq ft study. On the third floor there were four further bedrooms for maids, along with an apartment over the three-car garage, with a living room, kitchen, and two bedrooms. The house also had a complete intercom phone system installed with 10 extensions.
Based on research from Wikipedia, we understand Keyes added “artistic glass and mirror installations, including a stair banister with plate glass balusters”. He also added an attached conservatory overlooking Lake St. Clair and a mansard roof with parapet. The house sits just down the road from Keyes's earlier mansard roof project at 7 Woodland Place (completed in 1935) – it appears mansard roofs had become a popular feature of Keyes work during this era, particularly when adapting homes to make them more suitable for modern living.
The Fords lived in the home until 1970, when it was listed for sale for $235,000 (around $1.8m today). It was purchased by Warren and Mareille Wilkinson, who became the homes third owners. Warren Scripps Wilkinson was a member of the Scripps newspaper family. A recent article in the Grosse Pointe News reports how Mr. Wilkinson “served as president and commissioner of the Detroit Historical Society and later became involved with the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, where he contributed his time as well as his own collection of historical items. Sadly Mr. Wilkinson passed on May 17, 2015.
His wife, Mareille, still resides at the property, continuing the legacy of this magnificent residence. It is safe to say Mareille’s husband would have been incredibly proud to know that his beloved home is the venue of the Grosse Pointe Historical Societies 2023 gala – opening the doors of 2 Woodland Place to share its history and grace.
*Photos courtesy of the Higbie Maxon Agney archives unless stated.
** Research, information, and data sources are deemed reliable, but accuracy cannot be fully guaranteed.
Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2023 Higbie Maxon Agney & Katie Doelle
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