Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – 447 Lake Shore

Lets take a look at one of Grosse Pointes most famous residents, Roy D. Chapin and his 447 Lake Shore property.

Commissioned in 1927 by Roy Dikeman Chapin, American Industrialist and president of Hudson Motor Company, 447 Lake Shore was designed by nationally recognized architect John Russell Pope.
Prior to the commission, Pope had travelled extensively through Europe, studying Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance structures in Italy, Greece and Paris. On his return to New York in 1900 Pope worked in the office of Bruce Price before opening his own firm.


Preceding his arrival to Grosse Pointe in 1927, Pope had designed a series of private houses before moving onto more renowned projects in Washington D.C such as the Jefferson Memorial, the National Gallery of Art and the House of Temple (1911-1915). At this stage in his career his style was predominantly neoclassical, however his firm would alternate between Gothic, Georgian, eighteen-century French and classical styles.

It was 18th century Georgian architectural style that would influence Pope’s work on 447 Lake Shore. Mrs. Chapin greatly admired the John S. Newberry House (Lake Terrace – designed by Earnest Wilby and Albert Kahn) and it is reported this was to serve as a model for the Chapin House, at least in the general plan.

Pope however exerted his own style on the property, and the house would have an extensive 18th Century style of its very own, encompassing all the requisites of good taste and elegance. Pope created a property bursting with traditionally craftsmanship, a final creation that was one of dignity rather than splendor with fine 18th century furniture, which made the interior of the property comfortable as well as handsome. The gardens were also in keeping with the grand work of the interior. Originally laid out by Bryant Fleming its 600-year-old yew hedges were imported from England. However, the focal point of the garden was an authentic 18th century doorway that Bryant decided to use as a wall fountain, water trickled down over rocks where the door had formerly been.

In 1983 the property was re envisioned and revitalized by Hugo Higbie (found of HMA and spouse of Roy Chapins daughter Marian) and Henry Ford II. Together they created the stunning Windemere high-end condominium complex, which was marketed by HMA.

Roy D. Chapin died in 1936, and following the death of Mrs. Chapin in 1956, Henry Ford II bought 447 Lake Shore. Fords wife Anne (who was fond of French Eighteenth century decorative arts) remodeled the interior of the house to provide a suitable background for her French Antiques, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. Extensive photos of the property can be found on the Library of Congress website.

Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2014 Katie Doelle

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *