Last week we presented 1011 Yorkshire. Ladue & Rahles completed the historic Colonial, in 1916, for Edmund F. Poupard, a member of the respected Poupard family who owned one of the original ribbon farms that once lined the shores of Lake St. Clair.

This week we stay in Grosse Pointe Park, and head to the prestigious street of Balfour, and to number 849. J. Ivan Dise completed the 4,326 sq ft Tudor revival home, in 1923, for Bertrand C. Spitzley. 

J. Ivan Dise created close to 20 homes in Grosse Pointe, plus a very recognizable public building in the Farms, the sewage pumping station (located at Chalfonte Avenue and Kerby Road). Dise was born in Pennsylvania in 1887. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, in 1909 he began his career in New York with the prestigious firm of Cass Gilbert. During his time there he had a hand in several commissions the company had secured from the City of Detroit, including the Detroit Public Library and the Scott Memorial Fountain on Belle Isle.

In 1919 Dise moved from New York to Detroit to join the architectural firm of Albert Kahn, where he would work until 1922. After working with Kahn for three years he set up his own firm, and worked on many civil and residential projects within Metro Detroit including: the Methodist Children’s village, the Boulevard Temple Building, many Detroit Public Schools and several homes.

The majority of his work in Grosse Pointe occurred during the 1920’s and 30’s including three collaborative projects with fellow Detroit architect Clair William Ditchy. His houses are some of the most attractive in the area, and include - 

  • 1003 Buckingham- with Clair William Ditchy
  • 986 Lochmoor - withClair William Ditchy
  • 745 Balfor - withClair William Ditchy
  • 1346 Kensington
  • 26 and 130 Kenwood
  • 53 and 68 Cloverly Road
  • 1020 Bishop
  • 823 Westchester
  • 402, 408 and 414 Notre Dame
  • 164 Lothrop

849 Balfour, as with most Dise homes, features beautiful architectural detailing inside and out. Constructed of brick, the exterior features the classic stucco, wood timber section you would expect to find on the second floor. The interior of this four-bedroom house includes a 16’ x 24’ sq ft living room, an open terrace, pegged floors and detailed plasterwork in many rooms on the main floor. There was an additional bedroom for the maid, along with service stairs.

Bertrand C. Spitzley commissioned it. Mr. Spitzley was President of the Houseman-Spitzley Corporation, and was one of Detroit’s best-known and successful realtors, and developers. He was born in New York City, in 1880. Having relocated with his family to Detroit he completed his education and went to work for the Detroit Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Company. He then moved to Portland, Oregon taking the position of acting chief draughtsman of the bureau of steam engineering at the Puget Sound Navy yard at Bremerton, Washington, where he would stay for four years. Having returned to Detroit, in 1906, he worked for the Abbott Motor Company. In 1910 he entered the real estate field, and founded the Houseman-Spitzley Corporation, with Mr. and Mrs. Houseman, in 1912. It became one of the foremost firms in real estate circles in Detroit, and one of the strongest organizations in the industry. Source, and image: The city of Detroit, Michigan, 1701-1922, Volume 4.

It appears Mr. and Mrs. Spitzley, and their two children resided at 849 Balfour until 1931. In 1939 Mr. Chandler sold the home to Mr. C. A. Pfaffenberger, a director of the Washington-Jefferson Realty Corporation, in 1941, for $20,000 (around $349,000 today). At the time the sale required 20% down, while the mortgage rate was a whopping 15% - which appears to be the standard rate during this era. Image courtesy of

Joseph Ivan Dise died in Detroit in 1969. With close to 20 homes in and around the Grosse Pointes, Mr. Dise was a prolific contributor of homes in the community. While he may not be a household name he was a prominent designer that has left us with some superb lasting legacies, including the striking Tudor styled home of 849 Balfour.

*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 Higbie Maxon Agney – - we will try and feature the property.

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