Last week we presented the former home of Frederick Moulton Alger, “By-Way”, located at 17770 East Jefferson. The property was one of the grand estates of Grosse Pointe that has been lost over time, having been demolished and the land subdivided for new homes.

While the original house is now gone there is a home, which was part of the original estate, that still exists today, albeit with extensive alterations and an addition - welcome to 1 Island Lane.

Island Lane is a quiet dead end street in Grosse Pointe. It is located off of Jefferson Avenue, between Alger Place and Dodge Place. 1 Island Lane is at the end of the street. It was built, in 1925, as a guesthouse to what was once part of the large Alger residence that had been designed by William B. Stratton & Frank C. Baldwin in 1908.

Having hired William Stratton to design the original home the Alger’s turned to him once again to design the guesthouse. By now Stratton was one of the most sort after architects in Detroit. During this stage of his career he was working with Dalton J. V. Snyder. It was a partnership that had formed in 1918, and together they designed many superb homes in the community including: 4 Woodland Place (1922); 365 University Place (1923); 341 Lakeland (1925); 15366 Windmill Pointe (1925). 

It would appear no expense was spared in building and furnishing the new guesthouse. It was situated on what was part of the larger estate with a wonderful view of the lake. The neo-Italianate style home was constructed from stucco with a copper roof, and was vastly different in its appearance to the low rambling one-and-a-half-story English farmhouse design of the main house. Top photo courtesy of

The interior was filled with many superb architectural features. Decorative carved plaster was a striking feature in many of the rooms, beautiful hand carved wood is visible throughout, while several of the main rooms (on the first floor) contained stately oak paneling that had been imported from England. Based on information from an article in the Detroit Free Press, by Judy Rose, we know that some of the wonderful décor came from its close neighbor, Rose Terrace, – ‘the butler’s pantry has a coffered ceiling constructed from wood flooring (from Rose Terrace), as did the carvings that frame the kitchen door. On the rear façade ‘a five-foot stone limestone carving of a women’s face with decorative elements is built into the side of the garage. It is not clear when this was added, but the Caen carving came from the dining room at Rose Terrace. Source: Detroit Free Press article, by Judy Rose. Photos courtesy of

Many of the main rooms on the first floor feature large bay windows, along with distinctive stone fireplaces in the formal living room, dining room and family room. Most of the second floor bedrooms (when the home was built) had their own sitting room, dressing room, and bathroom. The third floor originally contained a large ballroom, which was a popular thing to do in many Grosse Pointe homes during this era. It is not clear how big the guesthouse was when it was built however at the time of completion we understand the guesthouse was spacious enough to contain a butler’s pantry, and had enough space for a live-in staff of three.

Having undergone several extensive alterations, and an addition, the home is now close to 8,000 sq ft. As of 1992 the home had seven bedrooms (the master bedroom, with bath, was located on the first floor), a finished third floor (33’ x 25’ sq ft), a separate mother-in-law apartment on the second floor, an indoor exercise pool, and a wine room in the basement.

There are five homes in total on Island Lane, the rest were constructed between 1976 and 1980 in varying architectural styles. Overhead photo courtesy of Photos of the Island Lane homes courtesy of Katie Doelle.

Number 2 - 4,025 sq ft (completed in 1980).

Number 4 - 3,969 sq ft (completed in 1978).

Number 5 - 3,700 sq ft (completed in 1978).

Number 6 - 3,255 sq ft (completed in 1976).

Island Lane is one of many new developments in Grosse Pointe that was once part of a grand estate. Thankfully, in this case, the existence of 1 Island Lane means that one of the original buildings of what was once the great Alger residence still remains, and what a beautiful home it is too.

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


Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2018 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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