Last week we introduced you to 180 Lewiston and arguably the most prestigious residents to live in Grosse Pointe - Russian nobility, the Count, and Countess Tolstoy.

This week we turn our attention to two very distinguished homes on E. Jefferson designed by the extremely talented Wallace Frost. Brothers, Edgar W. Bowen, and Julian P. Bowen, owned the two homes, located in close proximity to each other – 16628 E. Jefferson, and 16632 E. Jefferson.

Edgar Woodbury Bowen was born in Detroit in 1886. His brother, Julian Perry Bowen, was born a year later in 1887. The siblings, graduates of the University of Michigan, both held senior positions (Edgar was Vice President and Secretary, while Julian was Vice President and Treasurer) at the Ferry-Morse, Seed Company, where their father, Lemuel Warner Bowen, was President and General Manager. During their careers they also held senior positions within associations and organizations in the City of Detroit. During the 1930’s, tragically both brothers died, within two years of each other, from heart disease. Julian passed in 1933, while his elder brother, Edgar, passed in 1935. Source and images: Findagrave.com

   

Edgar Bowen commissioned 16632 East Jefferson, built in 1926. The 6,683 sq ft French Normandy style home is situated on nearly one acre of land, and has as an abundance of fine architectural details inside and out. Upon entering the home guests walk through the large 14’ x 16’ sq ft stone floored foyer. A grand sweeping circular staircase dominates the first floor, which also contains an impressive living room (26’ x 20’ sq ft), a beamed and wood paneled dining room (17’ x 19’ sq ft), and a library (15’ x 15’ sq ft) – all of these rooms have a fireplace. The first floor also features a kitchen with a butler’s pantry, and an adjoining service dining room. The second floor includes six bedrooms; the master suite is 16’ x 21’ sq ft and has a fireplace. The second floor also contains a servant’s wing with two additional bedrooms, and service stairs. An elevator (5’ x 6’ sq ft) ran from the 1st to the immense 3rd floor, which is over 1500 sq ft, and now contains a large suite.

Julian Bowen commissioned 16628 East Jefferson, built in 1927. The 8,974 sq ft home was also designed in the French Normandy style, and is arguably Wallace Frost’s most noted work in Grosse Pointe. It is a spectacular home with a wonderful view of Lake St. Clair from the house, and the English inspired sunken gardens. As the floor plan below demonstrates the first floor includes a grand 31’ x 25’ sq ft living room that had an uninterrupted view of the lake. The second floor originally featured seven large bedrooms along with two additional bedrooms for maids.

The French Normandy style had become popular in the U.S shortly after the First World War when French chateaus were a model of inspiration. Typical traits of this approach include a turret toped by a conical cone-shaped roof, a steeply pitched roof, stone or brick façade, an arched opening to the main entrance, tall flat chimneys along with an asymmetrical configuration to the home. 

Wallace Frost designed over 40 homes in and around Birmingham, Michigan.  Despite working predominantly on the west side of Metro Detroit he designed at least 10 significant homes in Grosse Pointe (that we know of) that span several architectural styles and decades – 1920’s through to the 1950’s. His projects included: 

  • 15324 Windmill Pointe – Frost’s largest home in Grosse Pointe.
  • 242 Lewiston
  • 41 and 42 Hendrie Lane
  • 157 Moross
  • 75 Vendome
  • 515 Lake Shore
  • 280 Vincennes 

At the beginning of his career Frost was located at the Naval Air Force base, Washington D. C, designing hangers for military instillations. It was here that he met Albert Kahn. Kahn had a great admiration for Frost’s work, and he asked Frost to join him in Michigan after the war. He moved to this area in 1919, settling in Birmingham in 1921. The two men worked closely together in Kahn’s office. It is reported they collaborated on some of Kahn’s most prominent projects, including the Detroit Public Library, the Fisher Building and The Edsel and Eleanor Ford house.

In 1926 Wallace Frost set up his own architectural firm, focusing on residential projects in around the suburbs of Detroit. He became associated with creating midsize cottage style houses, with exquisite detailing, elegant woodwork, an abundance of light with a mix of Italian, French and English architectural influences. It is reported many people who live in one of his homes refer to them as ‘Wally’ houses – and they are often described as being ‘prized finds’. Both Bowen homes still exist on Jefferson today. They are a wonderful statement of Frost’s skill as an architect, and the French inspired homes that began to grace the Grosse Pointes during the 1920’s. 

*Photos courtesy of the Higbie Maxon Agney archives unless stated.

  

Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2019 Higbie Maxon Agney & Katie Doelle

  

If you have a home, building or street you would like us to profile please contact Darby Moran – Darby@higbiemaxon.com - we will try and feature the property. 

(For more historical information on Grosse Pointe, visit Grosse Pointe Historical Society).

Posted by Kay Agney on

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