Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – 1251 Devonshire – A Gracious and Distinctive Home

There are many homes in and around Grosse Pointe that make you want to just stop and look. Some have a distinctive design, while others are strikingly different from the homes that surround them.

While many homes fall into the latter category, it is the former that applies to 1251 Devonshire, a gracious and distinctive home located in Grosse Pointe Park, created by John W. Case.

Case was born in Geneva, 1864, however it isn’t clear when he moved to the United States. After graduating from high school he studied architecture at the University of Michigan, and majored in architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, before heading back to Europe to continue his studies. During his career he worked in New York, Boston, and Baltimore before ultimately winding up in Detroit, where he was primarily based.

From 1905 to 1920 he also served as the Professor or Architecture at the University of Illinois before returning to Utica, Michigan where he lived until his death in 1937.

In an edition of the American Architect and Building News, dated 1897, John W. Case was acknowledged to be part of a group of local architects, members of the ‘Detroit Architectural Sketch Club’ who were asked to give a public lecture on Architectural History, and each prepare a paper. This group also included Albert Kahn, Louis Kamper, H. J. M Grylls and Emil Lorch.

With regards to his work at 1251 Devonshire, Case created the modern colonial home for George W. Yeoman in 1918. The 3,833 sq ft home is featured extensively in a 1919 edition of ‘Michigan Architect and Engineer’, which also featured some wonderful photos of the property (please see below – courtesy of books.google.com).


The Library – courtesy of Michigan Architect and Engineer – books.google.com


Entrance Hall – courtesy of Michigan Architect and Engineer – books.google.com


Dining Room – courtesy of Michigan Architect and Engineer – books.google.com

The article about the house describes the design as having brick gables and a wood façade. The exquisite skills of the carpenter employed on this home were plain to see, the publication acknowledges ‘the carpenter’s beautiful woodwork was given the place of honor on the front of the house’. However, It is believed not all the woodwork was down to the skill of this one individual. The publication also states ‘many colonial residences of this era were put together in England, taken down, shipped and erected in America’.


Courtesy of Michigan Architect and Engineer – books.google.com

As with many Colonial designs the home is symmetrical. The doorway on the front façade is typical from this era, a classic oversized entryway, which is also present on many Georgian Revival homes. On the left of the residence is a one-story sunroom; while on the right (in keeping with the symmetry) is a one-story kitchen. One entering the house, the extra wide hallway (16’ x 15’) contains an impressive stairway with an elaborate balustrade, while Pewabic tile and lead glass accents are present throughout. The foyer, library and garden room lead to a patio at the rear of the home. The second floor features a generously sized master bedroom (26’ x 15’) along with two additional bedrooms, while the third floor contains 2 further bedrooms and service stairs to the first floor.

The home, situated on two lots, has sufficient formal grounds to contain a garage complete with a 3-room carriage house on the second floor. The wall of the garage forms a background to a fountain, waterfall and a pool containing an array of aquatic plants, surrounded by evergreens and dense shrubbery.


Garage and fountain – courtesy of Michigan Architect and Engineer – books.google.com

It is not clear if John W. Case worked on any other homes in Grosse Pointe, but from what we can tell he was an esteemed architect who created a rather gracious and distinctive home in the community.

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


Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2016 Katie Doelle