Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – 354 Washington
Last week we explored another iconic Georgian residence, the majestic 211 Vendome, designed by Robert O. Derrick in 1929, for Franklin Caldwell Walker, grandson of whiskey baron Hiram Walker. The 18,158 sq ft property is set on two and a half acres and is arguably one of the finest homes in Grosse Pointe.
This week we stay with the theme of classically designed homes as we head to 354 Washington, a fabulous Georgian Colonial style home designed by John Scott & Company, completed in 1912. The property was one of the earliest homes to be constructed on the first block of Washington.
We previously featured the work of John Scott a couple of weeks ago when we explored the lost estate, 575 Lake Shore also known as “Clairview”, completed between 1911-1915, for Dr. Harry Norton Torrey and his wife Nell Ford. John Scott, born in England in 1850, designed at least three homes in Grosse Pointe from 1911 through to 1914. Scott had a stellar career as an architect in Metro Detroit, he designed serval noted commercial buildings, including the Cadillac Hotel, the Brunswick Hotel, the Empire Building, the Wonderland and Temple Theater, along with possibly his greatest work, the Wayne County Court Building, 600 Randolph St., Detroit (1896 – 1902). His portfolio also included multiple fine residences in Indian Village and several Victorian and Arts & Crafts-style homes on East Ferry Street in Detroit, which included his own home (84 East Ferry Avenue) completed in 1886. Source: historicdetroit.org
As a child John Scott left England and moved to Windsor, Ontario before settling in Detroit. He attended Boston Technical School studying architecture. During this time, it is said he became an ardent devotee of the Italian Renaissance movement. Upon graduation, he went to work for his father, William Scott, at the family business. After his father retired, in 1889, John Scott worked with Louis Kamper and Arthur Scott (his brother), to form the firm of Scott, Kamper, and Scott. It is rumored John Scott hired Albert Kahn as an apprentice but let him go because he didn’t think Kahn had a future as an architect. In 1914, John Scott and his wife Emma Woodward retired to Avon Township (known today as the city of Rochester Hills). He passed in 1928.
354 Washington is located on the corner of Washington Road and Maumee Boulevard, facing what was then the newly opened ‘Grosse Pointe Colony’ development. From a brochure presented by the H. A. Jones Real Estate Company, in 1914, the company presents the following description of the new subdivision – “Grosse Pointe Colony is situated in Detroit’s favored residential district. Proper cultivation and the skill of expert landscape gardeners have rendered the surrounding country a land of wide boulevards and winding roads, set with fine homes and broad estates. Grosse Pointe Colony is situated in the very heart of the high-class residential section of Grosse Pointe Village – Grosse Pointe is nationally known as a residential section that probably has no equal in this country, either in the magnificence of its homes or in the beauty of its surroundings”. The brochure also highlights the fact that “Grosse Pointe Colony can be reached in forty-five minutes by the streetcar on the Jefferson Avenue line. Grosse Pointe Colony is a country home, combining all the joys of a country estate with the improvements and conveniences of the city”. The brochure includes a map of the proposed site for the Grosse Pointe Colony – it includes Lincoln, Washington, Rivard, and University Place – see below.
It is reported the earliest homes in the ‘Grosse Pointe Colony’ development were completed between 1913-14, with many others being built shortly afterwards. We can confirm 354 Washington was not part of the development. The first block of Washington, from E. Jefferson to Maumee was beginning to see significant changes around 1912. 333 Washington, 285 Washington, and 354 Washington were completed that year, with 250 Washington and 300 Washington following before 1920, all were grand affairs.
354 Washington is a 6,906 sq ft classically designed Georgian Colonial residence situated on a large corner lot. The exterior of this symmetrical brick-built home features multiple double hung windows with black shutters and a brick keystone above each window on the first floor. The main focal points, however, is the central covered porch with its narrow columns and the four dormers in the roof.
Much of the interior has wood trim, German silver hardware, and oak floors. The first floor includes a spacious foyer, an 18’ x 30’ sq ft living room with walnut paneling, a chestnut paneled 12’ x 18’ sq ft library with a fireplace, and a 24’ x 32’ sq ft dining room with a fireplace and white enameled walls. The kitchen once included a butler’s pantry, a maids dining room, and a cold room. The second floor had three main bedrooms. The master bedroom was 18’ x 30’ sq ft in size and had a large fireplace. There was also a further bedroom for the maid. At the rear of the home was a deck with coping. The gardeners shed was attached to the rear of the three-car garage that also had a two-bedroom carriage house above. The carriage house featured dormers within the gabled roof. The photo below is courtesy of tours.mixedmediaco.com
It is reported the property might have been commissioned by Mr. B. Baldwin, although this cannot be verified. We do know the house was purchased by manufacturer Charles Henry Hodges and his wife Elizabeth Hodges (Wetmore) around 1921. Mr. Hodges was born in 1859, in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. In 1862, his parents relocated to Detroit. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1882, he was employed by the Detroit Radiator Company and became secretary. From 1892 – 1906 Mr. Hodges was employed by the American Radiator Company, in Chicago, as treasurer, vice president, and he was also a member of the executive committee. In 1906, he returned to Detroit to become Chairman of the Board Detroit Lubricator Company and then a director of the American Blower Company. His wife Elizabeth passed in 1931, and Charles passed in 1937, he was survived by his two sons. Following the death of Mr. Hodges 354 Washington was listed for sale in July 1938, for $75,000 (around $1.5 million today). From our files we understand the Hodges estate was willing to accept $55,000 or was happy to consider leasing the property for $200 a month (around $4,100 today). 354 Washington was eventually sold in 1940, for $47,500 (around $980,000) to Lawrence Roehm, an American football, baseball player, and businessman in Detroit.
354 Washington is a magnificent Georgian Colonial home, one of the oldest homes on Washington, and arguably one of the most distinguished homes in the city of Grosse Pointe.
Photos courtesy of the Higbie Maxon Agney archives unless stated.
Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2022 Katie Doelle