Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – 900 Lake Shore

Last week we stopped by 280 Vincennes to present the story of world-renowned landscape architect Thomas Dolliver Church who designed the garden. Thomas Church was a coveted landscape architect whose reputation and influence were worldwide. This week we return to Lake Shore to explore the lost home of 900 Lake Shore. Completed in 1913, it was commissioned by George Osius – the first president of the Village of GP Shores.

According to our files, 900 Lake Shore was designed and built by the firm of Pollmar & Ropes. It was not only the home of the first president of the newly established Village of GP Shores but was also the venue of the Junior League of Detroit’s first Designer’s Show House.

900 Lake Shore was a 6,000 sq ft, 17-room Southern Colonial style home. The front had six tall narrow columns, several delicate arched windows on the second floor, a wrought iron balcony, along with a green tile roof that incorporated a rectangular dormer window. It was constructed from brick with a white stucco exterior that was in keeping with the style of architecture present on this part of Lake Shore during this era. Several of its neighbors were created in the Mediterranean and/or Italian Renaissance style, with white stucco exteriors and large open balconies at the rear of the properties, to provide a perfect view of the lake.

Despite being completed in 1913, our files idicate the property was rebuilt in 1917 (it is not clear what the size of the home was at this point). In a listing in July 1929, we can confirm the house had a 21’ x 32’ sq ft living room, a 15’ x 28’ sq ft dining room, a 12’ x 15’ sq ft library, a large 12’ x 22’ sq ft kitchen, a front porch, and a huge 14’ x 48’ sq ft porch at the rear of the home. The second floor had five bedrooms (plus two bedrooms for maids), while the third floor was the location of a further bedroom and a large 24’ x 32’ sq ft games room with separate service stairs. The living room and dining room were both paneled in solid mahogany; the main hall was paneled in fumed oak, while the library was paneled (floor to ceiling) in solid walnut. At the time the lot size was 290 x 550.The garden was described as “small and stiff” and had a grass tennis court. There were also many fine trees that were imported and planted by Mr. Osius.

It appears Mr. Osius first listed the home for sale in September 1929 for $35,000 (around $631,000 today). During the 1930’s the house became available for rent for $250 a month (around $5,600). By 1943, with the property still for sale, it is understood that approximately 100’ of the property was available to be purchased separately. Based on our files, we understand 900 Lake Shore was sold during the late 1940’s to Detroit attorney William B. Cudlip.

The house made headline news in October 1951, when an eight-pound baby boy was left on the steps of the home, wrapped only in a piece of cotton sheeting, lying in a cardboard box. The baby was rushed to the hospital and thankfully made a full recovery. It is not known if the mother was ever traced. Source: Detroit Free Press) October 1951).

By 1979, the lot size at 900 Lake Shore had been reduced to 110 x 550 and the house now had a heated 14’ x 48’ sq ft glass enclosed garden room on the back porch (which was once an open terrace) while on the second floor there was a sitting room and a 14’ x 48’ sq ft captain’s deck.

The original owner of 900 Lake Shore, George Osius, was a prominent public official, landowner, and chemical manufacturer. He was born in Germany in 1859 and came to the United States in 1878. In 1882, he settled in Ann Arbor where for a time he was a bookseller and publisher. He arrived in Detroit in 1886. Mr. Osius was a member of the Detroit Library Commission from 1900 to 1913, serving as president from 1906 to 1912. During this time, beginning in the spring of 1911, he became the first president of the Village of Grosse Pointe Shores (The Village of Grosse Pointe Shores was incorporated on April 3, 1911). It is reported Mr. Osius hosted the first Village Council meeting at his home on Tuesday April 11, 1911. He would continue as president of the Village until 1928. He was also president of the Village Board of Health.

In World War I, Mr. Osius served the Government as division chairman of the ammonia manufacturers committee. He was also president of the Michigan Ammonia Works, which he founded. George Osius was married to Elise (Rickel) and together they had two daughters. In 1932, the Grosse Pointe Shores Park was named Osius Park, officially recognizing his contributions to the township. Mr. Osius passed on Sep 23, 1941. Source: Detroit Free Press (September 1941). Image courtesy of: The Grosse Pointer (April 2021).

On May 8, 1976, the Junior League of Detroit opened the doors of 900 Lake Shore (William Cudlip still owned the home) as the venue for its first ever Designer’s Show House. Originally titled the Decorators’ Show House the event ran from May 8 through to May 23; admission was $3.50; and around14,000 people attended the event.

It appears 900 Lake Shore was sold for the final time in May 1987. It was then raised (date unknown) and a new home was built in its place.


*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 © 2024 Katie Doelle