Last week we explored 16638 E Jefferson, originally built for Frank W. Eddy in 1911-12. In 1927, under the new ownership of John B. Ford Jr., the house underwent an extensive remodel to create the property we know today.

This week we begin a two-part story of the history of the Junior League of Detroit’s (JLD) Designers’ Show House (DSH). The event is currently being held at 315 Lakeland, Grosse Pointe. However, after 48-years, the journey will come to an end with this, its final destination.

The JLD’s Designers Show House began in 1976 and has been held in 25 different houses (23 in the Grosse Pointe communities and 2 in Detroit). The event was first conceived in San Francisco in the early 1970’s. During this time a member of the JLD headed to the west coast to take notes on the event and how to run it.

Over the years the JLD’s DSH has raised over $5million and has welcomed over 280,000 guests. The inaugural event (in 1976) was held at 900 Lake Shore Drive and welcomed 14,000 people. Each of the 25 show houses is remembered for many different reasons – including its special charm, the fantastic architecture, last minute emergencies, decorating challenges, and dramas along the way.


Changes Along the Way

 Over the years the event has remained true to its roots – but there have been some changes along the way.

• From 1976 through to 1980 the event was known as the Decorators’ Show House. It became known as the Designers’ Show House in 1982.

• The first five showhouses, 1976 through to 1984 were all located on Lake Shore. In 1986 the event moved away from the water to Lakeland.

• The ticket prices have changed significantly over the years. In 1976, the ticket price was $3.50, while in 2024, it is $40.00.

• In 1982 the event had its first tearoom. It only became known as the café in 1994. During the years the size, shape, location of the café has changed and has had some very interesting names including the Log Cabin Café; End of the Rainbow; Café Maumee; Boat House Coffee Cart; Hoist Tavern; and The Fisher Café.

• The program book has transitioned from single color illustrations to photographs, thanks in part to the involvement of a professional architectural photographer in 1992 – who, after 32 years is still involved with the event.

The Designers’ Show Houses: 1976 – 1998.

1976 – 900 Lake Shore
900 Lake Shore, the first show house by the JLD was titled the Decorators’ Show House. The 19-day event featured special events and demonstrations by local experts, a raffle, and a boutique.

The 6,000 sq ft property was completed in 1913, possibly designed by the firm of Pollmar & Ropes. The 17 room Southern Colonial style home was commissioned by George Osius – the first president of the newly established Village of GP Shores. When 900 Lake Shore was completed, it had many interesting features including a basement garage with a turntable for ease of moving automobiles, and a very modern kitchen. The property also had almost 400 feet of lake frontage and became a social and civic center of the community.

1978 – 241 Lake Shore
The Mrs. Henry Stephens Estate, 241 Lake Shore, was a magnificent property completed in 1913. Charles Platt designed the 25-room French Baroque style mansion, while noted New York landscape architect William Pitkin, Jr. created the gardens.

Upon its completion the property included a 6,000 sq ft house, a large lawn facing the lake, formal gardens, a tennis court, green house, garage, stables, a large vegetable garden, orchard, gardener’s cottage, and a carriage house. The garden included many fine specimens selected by Pitkin to enhance, frame, and compliment the home. Some of the trees on the grounds included dogwoods, ash, American elms, red cedar, English yew, horse chestnut, oaks, and poplars.

241 Lake Shore typified the opulence of the homes that were constructed in the Farms during the early 20th century. Prior to its demolition, in 1988, an auction was held at the property, which attracted bidders from over 1500 miles away.

While the original estate is now gone there are still several lasting reminders of 241 Lake Shore. One of its original buildings still exists – 240 Grosse Pointe Blvd; there is a small part of the original gardens (to the right of Forsyth Lane); and there is a lasting reminder of the name ‘Stephens Road’.

1980 – 551 Lake Shore
551 Lake Shore Road was completed in 1951, for Leo Fiztpatrick, a national figure in radio broadcasting and veteran of both World Wars. The 8,800 sq ft residence was one of the few modern style homes selected for the DSH event.

Keyes built many significant houses, in numerous architectural styles, across Metro Detroit. He was also a prolific designer of fine homes in Grosse Pointe. His work centered on creating grand estates for the industrialists and he was considered one of the most versatile architects to work in southeastern Michigan.

Prior to 1930, Keyes was heavily influenced by Tudor, French Renaissance, and formal Georgian styles. However, during the late 1930’s, Keyes switched to modern international style homes, which was followed by his trademark Regency Moderne style that he would ultimately become most known for. Image courtesy of: Robert C. Hayes Jr.

1982 – 625 Lake Shore
625 Lake Shore is one of Grosse Pointe’s most historic and prestigious homes. Completed in 1909, as a summer cottage for Harry Mulford Jewett, this gracious white clapboard Colonial revival residence was designed by Walter MacFarlane.

625 Lake Shore has a long and rich history – the earliest record of the land dates to 1811, when U.S. President James Madison granted Francois Tremble the land - over 61 acres. In 1876, the land was purchased by James Fisher. It was sold to William Moran in 1884, who then deeded it to John Moran for use as a dairy cattle and horse farm. In 1907, Harry Jewett purchased the land from Mr. Moran to build an expansive summer cottage.

Architect Walter MacFarlane completed the property in 1909. It is located on 2.4 acres with stunning views of the lake from many rooms. When the property was first completed it is reported there was a boathouse, gazebo, and a reflecting pool. The elegant gardens were home to three ancient French pear trees, possibly hundreds of years old.

1984– 111 Lake Shore
111 Lakeshore, also known as “Cherryhurst” was built in 1907, one of the first year-round residences to be built in Grosse Pointe Farms. Created in the Tudor Revival architectural style this exquisite home was a colossal 15,000 square ft three story residence built in the shape of a U. It features many of the defining characteristics found in Tudor revival homes such as decorative half timbering, a steeply pitched roof, and long rows of casement windows. The property featured 10 fireplaces, many of which were carved limestone.

It was built for prominent businessman Paul Harvey Deming, who was born in Cleveland in 1874. While living at Cherryhurst Paul Deming served as president of the village, and remained deeply involved in village business even after his term was finished.

In 1996, the home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and became a Designated Michigan State Historic Site. However, despite receiving this prestigious recognition the house was demolished in 1997.

1986 – 266 Lakeland
266 Lakeland was the first show house to be located away from Lake Shore. And the first of four show houses to be held on the prestigious street of Lakeland.

Albert Kahn designed the elegant Tudor residence, in 1912, for Benjamin Tobin, president of Continental Motors. It was named “Rosecroft”, because of the rose gardens that were once located on the grounds. It was also one of the first properties created for the many high profile auto executives who wanted a stunning home in the new thriving community of GP at the turn of the twentieth century.

The 18-room property features a three-story open staircase and many sublime architectural details - beautiful woodwork Pewabic tile, and ornate plasterwork on the walls and ceilings. The library has hidden shelves, wood paneling, and a barrel ceiling. It was reported, by the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, the property has 126 windows, 74 doors, and 112 stairs.

1988 – 315 Washington
This Tudor Renaissance mansion was designed by Marcus Burrowes in 1924, for Ralph Harmon Booth, president of Booth newspapers. Mr. Booth was also the U.S Minister to Denmark and a major arts patron.

No expense was spared in building the 22-room, 11,500 sq ft home that was once described, as one of one of the most superb homes in the state of Michigan. It is spectacular inside and out. A pair of stone twisted baroque columns adorn the entrance to the 7-bedroom, 5 bath and 6-car garage residence. Inside, on the first floor most of the ceilings are 12.5ft high, while many of rooms have arches carved from granite. The foyer was black marble, while several of the rooms had elements imported from estates in the United Kingdom – a fireplace, mantle, pecan paneling and hand-carved columns from Hamilton Palace in Scotland; a 15’ high slate fireplace and walnut paneling from Standish Hall, London.

1990 – 15420 Windmill Pointe
15420 Windmill Pointe “Bellmor” was completed in 1927, for John Moran. This huge 12,000 sq ft home was designed by prominent local architect Robert O. Derrick. It is believed it was modeled after a sixteenth century English manor house that was one of Mr. Moran’s favorite properties he had visited while on a trip to England in the early 1920’s.

The English Tudor style mansion features 33 rooms, including 16 bathrooms and a six-car garage. The house is filled with an abundance of superb architectural details. French Fleur-de-lis and Irish Rose patterns are repeated throughout the home in the pressed plaster, there are 12 ft high ceilings, beautifully carved oak paneling, and intricate wooden detailing throughout. After sitting empty in the 1970’s it is alleged that Bellmor narrowly avoided demolition after the owner could not secure a demolition permit.

1992 – 243 Lakeland
Bernard Wetzel created 243 Lakeland in 1914, for Joseph Crowley. Mr. Crowley was a successful businessman in Detroit. In 1909, he became co-founder of Crowley’s, the prestigious department store that, at its peak, was the largest department store in Michigan. Source: Wikipedia.

243 Lakeland is an English Tudor style home around 9,500 sq ft. It features five natural fireplaces, 9 bedrooms, along with a ballroom with a stage on the 3rd floor.

1994 – 22 Webber Place
This property will be featured when we get to 2012 – the second time the event was held at this residence.

1996 – 340 Lakeland
In 1996, the event returned to Lakeland. Charles Crombie and Henry Stanton completed 340 Lakeland, a large English manor home, in 1925, for Dr. Arthur McGraw. The 8,600 sq ft house is located on a lot just over 1 acre in size. As with many Crombie and Stanton projects the exterior features beautiful intricate brickwork, in this case three magnificent interlocking brick chimneys dominate the front façade, while the entrance is wonderfully detailed.

Crombie and Stanton began working together in 1914. Their work was quite diverse - not only did they design 340 Lakeland, one of the largest homes in Grosse Pointe, they also claimed third place in a national competition for the design of a low-cost brick house with only 4-6 rooms.

1998 – 15520 Windmill Pointe
This 10,400 sq ft Georgian revival mansion was designed by Alpheus Chittenden. It was completed, in 1903, for John B. Ford, the grandson of entrepreneur Captain John Baptiste Ford who founded the Pittsburg Plate Glass Company in 1883. Its original location was in Indian Village, however, in 1928, it was moved by truck, under the supervision of leading architect, Charles Kotting, to its new location on Windmill Pointe by its then owners Frederick and Esther Ford. 

The symmetrical design features a grand central entrance, and a green tile roof. Meanwhile the back of the property has stunning archways, multiple tall windows, and a large rear terrace with a curved stairway leading to the garden. It has been suggested when the home was first located in Indian Village, “the original river façade was far more ambitious than that of the structure once it was moved to Windmill Pointe.” First image courtesy of Library of Congress (taken between 1900 – 1910).

We will conclude the history of the Junior League of Detroit’s Designers’ Show House next week with the homes from 2000 – 2024.



*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 © 2024 Higbie Maxon Agney & Katie Doelle



If you have a home, building or street you would like us to profile please contact Higbie Maxon Agney – - we will try and feature the property.

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