Over the past couple of weeks we have been exploring the homes that were part of the grand Fredrick Moulton Alger estate. The original home designed by William Stratton and Frank C. Baldwin (17700 E. Jefferson, designed in 1908), and the guesthouse (1 Island Lane), designed in 1925 by Stratton and Snyder.
This week we move to the house located next door to the Alger estate, and introduce the home of one of the architects’ mentioned above – Frank C. Baldwin. Located at 17620 E. Jefferson, the home, also known as “the Hedges”, was built in 1907, having been designed by Baldwin himself, and his partner William Stratton. Image courtesy of: Tonnancour, Volume 1.
Unlike the Frederick Alger home (the innovative, ahead of its time neighbor), the house the duo created for Baldwin was far more traditional in its approach.
Inspired by the manor houses of England the style of 17620 E. Jefferson is far more formal than the groundbreaking residences Stratton and Baldwin were creating, during this era, for some of their wealthy clientele across Metro Detroit.
Stratton was known for his fine craftsmanship and attention to detail, which is visible in the wonderful photos below of the homes interior. Fine wood paneling filled many of the rooms, while the large windows ensure the home was filled with an abundance of light. Photos are courtesy of the Burton Historical Collection, the Detroit Public Library.
Several years after it was completed Baldwin sold the property. Dr. Fred T. Murphy purchased it. Dr. Murphy made extensive alterations, and added a large two-storied library, which was designed by the prominent Grosse Pointe architect Robert O. Derrick – see the photo below. Derrick, along with Hugh T. Keyes, had a strong reputation in the community for enlarging and redesigning existing homes. The photo below shows the addition of a two-story section to the right of the timbered entrance that vastly changes the front façade compared to the flat, brick section that was present when the home was first built. The changes also included adding a garden terrace, which provided the perfect spot to overlook a stretch of lawn containing ancient apple trees that were part of a pre-existing farm. Source: Tonnancour, Volume 1. Image courtesy of the Burton Historical Collection, the Detroit Public Library.
Interestingly when Dr. Murphy purchased the home he became neighbors and good friends with the Alger family. In 1937, Mrs. Alger, having lost her husband Frederick M. Alger (in 1934), and Dr. Murphy having lost his second wife (also in 1934), were married. They then chose to reside at Dr. Murphy’s home, 17620 E. Jefferson. Source: The Grosse Pointe Review, January 1937.
The architects of 17620 E. Jefferson, Stratton and Baldwin (the original owner of the home), have been described as one of the most influential architectural companies in Detroit during the early 20th century. While the work and career of William Stratton is often featured and discussed the career of Frank C. Baldwin is less well known.
Frank Conger Baldwin, Architect, Writer, Civic Leader, was born in Galesburg, Illinois in 1869. He studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Having graduated his began his career in Detroit, in 1893, where he worked, briefly, in the office of John Scott. Baldwin then joined forces with William Stratton, creating a partnership that would last until 1911. During this time both men held the title of ‘president of the Society of Arts and Crafts’ in Detroit. Stratton was its first president; Baldwin was it’s second. Baldwin was also president of the Detroit Architectural Club, in 1907.
In 1911, having lived at 17620 E. Jefferson for four years, and working as a partner with Stratton for eighteen years, Mr. Baldwin moved to Fredericksburg, and established an office near Washington. Between 1911 and 1914 he became the vice-president of the American Institute of Architects, and was its secretary between 1926 and 1934. He also served as a delegate to the International Congress of Architects, which was held successfully in London, Rome and Budapest. Source: prabook.com
17620 E. Jefferson, or “The Hedges” as it was affectionately known, was demolished in the early 1960’s. It sadly falls into the growing list of homes that were owned by prominent members of the community that have been lost over time.
*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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(For more historical information on Grosse Pointe, visit Grosse Pointe Historical Society).
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