Last week we introduced you to William Ledyard Mitchell, and his striking residence located at 180 Ridge Road, Grosse Pointe Farms.
This week we stay with the Mitchell family and explore the residence of one of William Ledyard Mitchell’s sons, William Ledyard Mitchell Jr. (born in 1912), and his former home at 61 Kenwood Road.
The Dutch style 5,351 sq ft colonial home was completed in 1929, having been designed by the firm of Weston and Ellington. It is constructed of whitewashed brick and white clapboard.
The first floor features a large screened porch (15’ x 27’), library (10’ x 14’) living room (16’ x 24’) and a dining room (15’ x 20’). The living room contains a large natural fireplace while French doors open on to a 15’ x 27’ screened terrace that looks toward a garden pool and fountain. The dining room, with its bay window, also overlooks the garden, as does the family room. It appears the house was extended in 1947 at a cost of $12,000 (around $136,000 today). The area for the family room (as depicted on the floor plan below) was added, and when built contained three servants’ bedrooms, and 1 ½ baths. The new wing had separate heating and a large attic fan. It is not clear when the two bedrooms were converted to the existing 10’ x 18’ family room. The pantry, featuring two sinks and a clothes chute, was connected to a large kitchen, while the maids 11’ x 13’ dining room was originally joined to the kitchen and the servants’ wing. This room has subsequently been converted and now has a different purpose.
The second floor contains five bedrooms. The large master bedroom (16’ x 24’ sq ft) features a fireplace and connects to two dressing rooms. A larger dressing room has been subsequently converted to a sitting room. The basement includes a 27’ x 24’ games room, fireplace, and an adjacent dark room (this was probably a later addition).
The architects of the home, William Weston and Harold Ellington, mostly specialized in factories, however they also worked on some noted projects in Detroit including the Metropolitan Building, and two hotels, the Wardell (now known as the Park Shelton), and the Fort Wayne. Source: Historic Detroit.org. The duo came from two very different backgrounds. William Weston (born in 1866) arrived in the United Sates in 1885, having grown up in New Zealand. He began his career as an apprentice in an architectural firm in Chicago; he then practiced as an architect in Birmingham, Alabama, and then moved to Detroit, where he would meet Harold Ellington. Born in Chicago (in 1886) Ellington graduated with an engineering degree in 1908. He started work as an engineer in Chicago before coming to Detroit (in 1912) to work as a construction engineer for Stroh Brewery. In 1919 Ellington, now a registered architect, joined the firm of Giaver, Dinkelberg, and Ellington. After the firm dissolved, in 1923, Ellington joined forces with William Weston.
After Weston’s death (in 1932), Ellington formed a partnership with noted architect Alvin Harley to form Harley and Ellington. Together they worked on many prominent projects in Detroit including the Book Building, Stroh Building, and the Real Estate Exchange Building. In 1939 the firm welcomed the talented designer Clarence E. Day as a partner. Ellington retired in 1965 having held the position of managing partner and president at the firm. Source: historicbostonedison.org
It appears that Weston and Ellington created very few homes in Grosse Pointe. This would make 61 Kenwood rather special and given its location on this prominent street, by the time it was completed, the house was surrounded by a wonderful collection of homes created by some of the leading architects Detroit had to offer during the 1920’s.
William Ledyard Mitchell Jr., left Grosse Pointe to reside in Massachusetts, where he died in 2002.
*Photos courtesy of the Higbie Maxon Agney archives unless stated.
Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2018 Higbie Maxon Agney & Katie Doelle
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