Last week we introduced you to the extraordinary work of William E. Kapp. He was a somewhat lesser known architect in Grosse Pointe, but was a ‘big name’ in the city. Under the employment of Smith, Hinchman and Grylls he created several iconic buildings including Meadow Brook Hall, The Detroit Historical Museum, and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum.
This week we continue our story by profiling another ‘big-name’ architect - but a lesser-known designer who came to Grosse Pointe – Rupert W. Koch.
Mr. Koch was a graduate of the University of Michigan and spent most of his career in Ann Arbor. He was one of the cities leading architects. One of his grand designs was the Ann Arbor mansion created for Leander J. Hoover, 1918. Set in an extensive 24 acre site the stunning French chateau cost over $350,000 to build (around $6million today). *Image courtesy of www.aadl.org
Koch was also responsible for the Graystone Ballroom, located on Woodward Avenue. Billed as “Detroit’s Million Dollar Ballroom” it opened in 1922 with enough space to hold 3,000 guests. At the time the Gothic Revival style building was the largest ballroom in the city. It one of Detroit’s most celebrated music landmarks playing host to many jazz greats, including - Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald. Sadly it closed in 1972, and was demolished in 1980. *Images courtesy of detroitsoundconservancy.org, and Wikipedia.com
Here in Grosse Pointe Rupert Koch created at least seven homes (that we know of). His first project in the community took place in 1917 at 305 University Place. His next six projects all came in the late 1920’s, and were spread across several of the Grosse Pointe communities. All of these homes were created using the Tudor architectural approach, and were roughly around 3,500 sq ft in size. This architectural style was particularly prominent throughout the Grosse Pointes during this era, with many wonderful examples created by some of the cities leading architects.
305 University Place, Koch’s first project in Grosse Pointe, is a superb 3,461 sq ft Colonial residence. The interior features wonderful detailing, including extensive use of mahogany on much of the first floor. The floor plan features a 16’ x 24’ living room, sun parlor, butlers’ pantry, and a maid’s sitting room. The second floor has four bedrooms, and two sleeping porches one on the side of the home (as shown in the photo below), and one at the rear.
1305 Whittier is a great example of an English inspired 3,317 sq ft Tudor home. The design of this house is quite unusual. The triangular section (on the left) is a particularly dominant feature, as is the ornate brickwork across the front elevation. Inside, the magnificent 15’ x 30’ ft 2-story living room features a barreled ceiling and a beautiful large palladium window (as depicted in the photo below).
1215 Buckingham is another distinctive English inspired creation by Koch. At 4,277 sq ft, it is his largest project in Grosse Pointe.
475 Lakeland is another of Koch’s Tudor inspired creations. *Image courtesy of Google.com
60 Roslyn is another excellent example of a large 3,320 sq ft Tudor home.
1306 Whittier is another superb 3,006 sq ft English style Tudor home by Koch. It is located on a large 116 ft lot, and features an abundance of wood finishes inside.
Rupert W. Koch was clearly a very skilled architect, with a wonderfully diverse portfolio. He worked on several prestigious projects across Metro Detroit, and was equally adept at producing commercial, and residential buildings. As was the case with so many architects from this era, much of their work didn’t always receive the recognition it deserved. All we can do is champion their cause, and highlight what great designers they were.
*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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