Last week we featured four lost estates on Lake Shore that proved to be a mystery when it came to tracing their story - 677 Lake Shore, 605 Lake Shore, 70 Lake Shore, and 215 Lake Shore. All four homes were once magnificent estates on Lake Shore, all four have been demolished, and all four are too good to be forgotten.
This week we continue with the lost estates, but turn to two homes that had a rather short life span. The first, 507 Lake Shore was completed in 1977, and was demolished in 1998. The second, 217 Lake Shore, was completed in 1949, and razed during the early 1990’s. Thus proving it is not just historical homes that have been lost over time.
507 Lake Shore was a sprawling 9,500 sq ft Italian style villa completed in 1977. It was situated on a large 211’ x 281’ sq ft lot. It is not clear who the architect was, but it appears it was built for Pietro (Pete) Gandolfo. The uniquely styled Mediterranean mansion was white stucco with a red tile roof. The front elevation was dominated by a multitude of arched windows, which made the most of the stunning views of the lake. The first floor featured a small number of rooms, but each room was generously sized, including a grand circular 32’ sq ft front room, a 18’ x 27’ sq ft living room, a 14’ x 15’ sq ft dining room, and a 20’ x 15’ sq ft “L’ shaped Kitchen. Also on the main floor were two bedrooms - the largest was 20’ x 15 sq ft, while the slightly smaller one measured 15’ x 15’ sq ft. The second floor contained three additional bedrooms. The home also featured three natural fireplaces, a patio, and a substantial “L” shaped indoor swimming pool, sauna and wet bar, which were located in a huge 50’ x 68’ sq ft room.
Based on information from everybodywiki.com we understand the owner of the home, Pietro (Pete) Gandolfo, was born in Grammichele, Italy, 1929. At the age of 17 he became a professional cyclist and won the Tour of Italy. Aside from his sporting ability, his father had taught him the skill of bricklaying, a trade that would make him extremely successful. After meeting his first wife, Carmele, an Italian American from Detroit, they got married and Pietro moved to the U.S with her. He quickly became known in the suburbs of Detroit for building sidewalks and porches for residential homes. By 1958, at the age of 29, his career was focused on the construction industry. He became a general contractor, and one of the top 40 contractors in the United States, helping to build a large segment of Interstate 696. He later changed careers, and opened up a combination bowling alley, restaurant and nightclub in Clinton Township in 1978, called La Notte. One of Mr. Gandolfo’s dreams was to own a home in Grosse Pointe. In 1977 that dream came true with the completion of his Mediterranean mansion for his then second wife, Catherine. Shortly after, for health reasons, the couple relocated to Boca Raton, and the house was listed for sale, in 1979, for a whopping $990,000 (around $3.5m today).The home subsequently sold in 1984 for a rumored $590,000. It was listed in March 1998 for $1,950,000 and demolished later that year.
217 Lake Shore was completed in 1949. Francis Palms, Jr. designed it for Edward A. Skoe. Located on a huge 2.7-acre lot, the modern styled home had superb views of the lake. The rear elevation featured a large glass front section on the main floor, which was home to the 26’ x 17’ sq ft living room, and a 20’ x 15’ sq ft Florida room. The 13’ x 16’ sq ft library was located at the rear of the home. The main floor also contained a 20’ x 15’ sq ft dining room, plus a dining room for maids, and an attached three-car garage. The second floor included four bedrooms. As the floor plan below demonstrates each bedroom was located at the rear of the home, with a view of the lake, and access to a terrace. An additional four bedrooms were located on the second floor for maids, which included service stairs to the kitchen on the main floor. The house was also wired for a state of the art hi-fi, and intercom system. The architect of the home, Francis Palms, Jr. (born in 1910) was the grandson of Francis Palms – A real estate developer, and the largest landholder in Michigan during the mid-1850s. It is not clear what other projects he worked on in Metro Detroit.
It appears 219 Lake Shore was listed for sale in 1959 for $160,000 (around $1.3m today), and eventually sold in 1962 for $80,000 (around $670,000 today). In 1992 the home was listed for $1,975,000. At some point, between 1992 and 1995, it was demolished.
These two modern mansions had, in comparison, to the other lost estates, a relatively short life, but they still deserved to be remembered as part of the many homes that have been lost over time.
*Photos courtesy of the Higbie Maxon Agney archives unless stated.
Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2019 Higbie Maxon Agney & Katie Doelle
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