Having featured the superb work of Clarence E. Day last week, we now turn our attention to a rather prominent home of Jefferson – welcome to “Lawn Leighton” also known as 16761 E.Jefferson.

This magnificent mansion was designed by one of Detroit’s finest architects, Louis Kamper, and was built between 1916-17. Christian Henry Haberkorn, Jr., a prominent banker in Detroit, commissioned it. Mr. Haberkorn was the son of C. H. Haberkorn, Sr., and Fances H. Ruehle, whose family had been prominent in Detroit for four generations. Born in Detroit, 1889, he graduated from Harvard in 1912 with a degree in Economics. Shortly after leaving Harvard Mr. Haberkorn began his career with C. H. Haberkorn & Co., manufacturers of furniture, where he held the title of secretary and treasurer. He was also closely associated with several other large business interests that were held by his father, holding the position(s) of secretary of the Grosse Pointe Corporation, and secretary and treasurer of the Haberkorn Investment Company. In 1913 he married Charlotte N. Beck, daughter of George Beck, president of the Beck Cereal Company. Together they had six children, four daughters, and two sons.

Lawn Leighton, when built, was close to 8,000 sq ft, which, at the time, made it one of the largest homes in the Grosse Pointes. In 1920 the size of the home was increased when Kamper was hired to create an extension to the left hand side of the residence (as depicted in the before and after photo’s below). The classic English Tudor style 3-story residence is built from brick, with a slate roof. It features exquisite limestone detailing around its many large windows, and front door – typical features of the Tudor approach during this era. The first floor contains a grand living room (38’ x 18’ sq ft), an exquisite sunroom (17’ x 38’ sq ft) on the left wing, and a large entrance hall. The second floor features 9 bedrooms, and 9 bathrooms. The master bedroom is an immense 17’ x 38’ sq ft, while presumably the three smaller bedrooms (upper right hand corner of the plan) were for the maids. Exquisite hand crafted details can be found throughout, including the impressive wooden staircase, pickled oak paneling, and hand crafted moldings. Image courtesy of Detroityes.com.

Before 1920

After 1920

Above the attached three-car garage is an apartment featuring a living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom and a bathroom.

The floor plans (above) were drawn around 1972. Since then the house, we believe, has undergone a number of changes. It was completely renovated in the early 1980’s, and is now over 8,000 sq ft. The width of the property used to run from Harvard to Cadieux, however over the years the lot has been sub divided. The sub division included dividing the section of the land (that used to contain the carriage house) and a separate home was built.

Christian Henry Haberkorn, Jr., resided in Grosse Pointe for most of his life, however it is not clear how long he remained at 16761 E. Jefferson. We do know the home has had a number of owners.

The architect of the home, Louis Kamper, could be described as one of the most impactful designers to have ever graced Detroit. His style, influence and work were on par with Albert Kahn, and George D Mason in terms of the architectural legacy that many of his projects have left on the city, and the United States.

Born in Bavaria, Germany in 1861 Kamper emigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1880. He began work for the prestigious New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White, and then moved to Detroit in 1888. He quickly established himself on the architectural scene, joining the firm of Scott & Scott, becoming partner within a year. His list of wealthy clientele grew quickly and he worked with several prominent families within Metro Detroit, including the Bagley, Merrill, Tuller and the Book families.

It is believed Kamper created at least six homes in Grosse Pointe, including: 

  • 1 Rathbone Place (1916)
  • 251 Lincoln (1917)
  • 836 Edgemont Park (1918)
  • 1008 Buckingham (1922)
  • 175 Merriweather Road (1931)

You can read more about these homes by clicking here.

Interestingly, the home of Murray W. Sales, 251 Lincoln (originally 17743 East Jefferson) – located within close proximity to the Haberkorn residence – is vastly different in its architectural style (see photo below). Give these two homes were completed around the same time it is a true testament to Kamper’s divergent approach, and the vastly different architectural styles that were appearing in Grosse Pointe prior to 1920. 

Kamper’s architectural styles varied a great deal, ranging from classic English Tudor, Italian Renaissance, Romanesque Revival, and French Châteaux. He enjoyed a long and distinguished career, and is credited with designing over 100 commercial and residential structures in and around Detroit.

*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 – homes@higbiemaxon.com - we will try and feature the property.

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