Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – 277 Lincoln

Last week we explored 114 Lothrop, a grand Regency home designed by Hugh T. Keyes in 1937, for decorated Canadian World War 1 veteran, Doctor J. Stewart Hudson. Measuring 10,586 sq ft it is one of Keyes larger homes in Grosse Pointe. It was built by Talbot & Meier.

This week we delve into the history of 277 Lincoln. This iconic Italian Renaissance style home was once the carriage house on the “Edgeroad” estate, located at 251 Lincoln (the original address was 17743 E. Jefferson), designed by Louis Kamper, in 1918. The carriage house, along with the potting shed and a large heated greenhouse (to the left of the carriage house) were located at the rear of the property facing Lincoln Rd.

251 Lincoln was completed in 1918, for Murray W. Sales, a prominent business leader, industrialist, and philanthropist in Detroit. At the time of completion, the 11,181 sq ft Italian Renaissance style villa cut a dramatic shape at the foot of the prestigious road of Lincoln. Image courtesy of Michigan Architect and Engineer (January 1922). The stunning gardens were designed by nationally renowned landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman. It is reported the design of the garden was heavily influenced by formal English gardens, which were incredibly popular at the time across the United States. The garden featured several planting beds, each planting bed was tended with precision by a crew of gardeners. The grounds also had a 20’ x 50’ greenhouse (with a partial furnace) that served to keep plants warm in the winter, particularly orchids.

277 Lincoln is a two-story stucco residence located on 104’ x 151’ sq ft lot, that also included the potting shed and the heated greenhouse.  Upon completion, by Louis Kamper, the first floor was nothing other than a heated garage which had space for four cars. The second floor consisted of a living room, dining room, breakfast room, kitchen, two bedrooms, and a full bath.

During the 1940’s it is apparent an attached four-car garage was added onto the left-hand side of 251 Lincoln, possibly by Murray Sales – it is not clear what the original carriage house was then used for. In 1943, Murray Sales wife, Jessie, passed, and sadly, by 1944, tragically all five of the Sales children had died. Mr. Murray Sales passed in January 1951. It appears the property was bequeathed to the Grosse Pointe Board of Public Education (GPBPE). It was Mr. Sales request that it be converted to a library to serve Grosse Pointe – he also requested that one room be dedicated to the memory of his wife. Source: www.findagrave.com . It was later reported the plan to convert the house into a library proved impractical. From our files we understand the GPBPE listed 251 Lincoln for sale in December 1951. That same year the GPBPE had received five offers to buy the carriage house alone. However, it appears the property wasn’t sub divided until the early 1970’s.

Around 1972, we understand the carriage house, now recognized as a separate property (277 Lincoln), was listed for sale in November 1972, at $39,500 (around $261,000 today). The property along with the garden, potting shed and the greenhouse were purchased jointly by realtor Mrs. Edna Root and Frederick W. Parker, Jr. Based on an article, from around 1972, by Patricia Talbot, we understand when Mrs. Root purchased the carriage house the garden was lined with antique rose trellises and an abundance of tulips. Mrs. Root set about making the garden her own. The article explains how she filled the terrace, that overlooked the gardens, with pots of geraniums, which she propagated throughout the year in the heated greenhouse. We also understand that while the ‘garden lacked the formality of the extravagant beds that were once part of the Sales property, Mrs. Root, an avid gardener for over a quarter of a century, transformed the garden into a ‘profusion of flowers’ that gave it a charming country effect in all seasons’. Her first home in Grosse Pointe was 285 Washington.

Several years later, in 1978, conversion of 277 Lincoln began, and was completed in 1979. A new driveway and parking area was added, while the upstairs apartment was expanded to include part of the first floor, which was also fully developed. A two-car tandem garage with one door, was also constructed. With the former carriage house transformed, 277 Lincoln was sold in April 1979, for $136,500 (around $520,000 today). In 1984, the former carriage house, now estimated to be around 3,800 sq ft, was sold to a family that had just returned from a two-year overseas job assignment in Paris. Given its Italian Renaissance style it was felt the family fell for its European charm.

In 1985, 277 Lincoln underwent a major renovation. At some point, due to the significant cost of heating the greenhouse, the furnace and the glass panes were removed, however, the date of the removal cannot be confirmed. Changes to the property included the addition of French doors, hardwood floors, and custom-made stairs to the second-floor guest room area. A private courtyard was also added. Meanwhile the original potting shed became a library. The style of the original beadboard paneling from the greenhouse was replicated in the new library, a fireplace was also added, and the breezeway from the kitchen area to the original potting shed was then enclosed. The former greenhouse was also renovated – a custom-designed window-wall was added to provide a vista from the library. The structure itself became an open terrace with the original frame remaining in place. In 1997, a new three car garage was added as a separate building at the side of the house and the driveway was reconfigured.

277 Lincoln is a delightful home with a unique history. The former carriage house (designed by Louis Kamper, one of the leading architects in the nation at the time) has been transformed into a space for modern living, while retaining its original elegance and charm.


*Photos courtesy of the Higbie Maxon Agney archives unless stated.
** Research, information, and data sources are deemed reliable, but accuracy cannot be fully guaranteed.


Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2022 Katie Doelle