In 1919 one of Detroit’s most prominent realtors, John H. Tigchon, commissioned a home, fit for a realtor, to be built for his family on Bedford Road, Grosse Pointe Park. The home was one of only a few homes in Grosse Pointe to be designed by the architectural firm of John C. Stahl and Donald L. Kinsey. Very little is known about Donald Kinsey, however John C. Stahl was recognized as one of the most skilled church and school architects in the state.
Stahl, a German American, was born in Detroit, 1874. After graduating from Central High School (Wayne State University) in 1903 he worked in architectural offices during the day and studied building and design at night school. Stahl had a very successful career, he established the firm of Stahl and Kinsey, before going on to design several churches in Detroit. One of his earliest commissions, and possibly the design he is best known for, is the Frederick Linsell House in1904. The Georgian style home, is located in the middle of Wayne State Campus.
He was known to be an admirer of fine woods and incorporated these into many of his homes, including several he created in the Indian Village Historic District between 1912 and 1916. He had a stellar reputation in Detroit as being ‘strictly ethical in every manner as an architect’. Along with being a member of the American Institute of Architects he was also a member of the Detroit Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and was honored by the Michigan Society of Architects’ – elected president for two terms.
In 1919 Stahl and Kinsey were hired by John H. Tigchon to design a new home on Bedford Road.
At the beginning of the 20th century Mr. Tigchon was one of Detroit’s best-known and successful realtors. Based on research from the book, the History of Wayne County and the City of Detroit (Burton, C. M. and M. Agnes Burton), John Tigchon began his real estate career in 1892. ‘One of his holdings was Windmill Land Company, a subdivision in Grosse Pointe Park. Mr. Tigchon owned from Alter Rd. to Three Mile Drive and from Mack Ave. to the river’. It is believed this subdivision was also created and developed by Tigchon.
His real estate career spanned nearly 30 years; in this time his contribution to ‘the cities growth, development and improvement’ during this era put him at the forefront of the business community, working with an array of high-class clientele. During his career John Tigchon was one of the organizers of the Detroit Real Estate Board, and played an active role in the organization, serving as its president in 1907.
The residence Stahl and Kinsey created for Tigchon was originally located at 1016 Bedford Road, which later changed to 1006 (the date for this change is not known).
At the time of construction new housing was in demand. It was the beginning of a building boom across the United States that saw homes being constructed in different styles – migrating away from the traditional designs that were common throughout the beginning of the twentieth century.
The home Stahl created for his client was a typical Colonial design from this era. At the time the Colonial style was very popular throughout the country, harmonizing the old world charm this style evoked with the traditional forms of the older homes that existed in many neighborhoods’, including Grosse Pointe.
Constructed from brick with a slate roof the 4,000 sq ft home has a classic oversized entrance associated with this architectural style. It is flanked by a row of two columns either side of the door, supporting a roof above the entrance.
The delicate architectural touches on the outside are mirrored on the interior with beautiful natural dark woodwork, an oak paneled library, and Pewabic tile on the fireplace in the living room. As you would expect from a home of this era the house has high ceilings throughout, there are 4 bedrooms on the second floor, 2 further bedrooms on the third floor for the servants, along with service stairs. At the time of completion the house was featured in an edition of Michigan Architect and Engineer as depicted by the black and white images above. The design of this home has a sense of fun; the style of the garage mirrors the design of the house with the large centered dormer window in the roof (see images below). It is an elegant residence created by a man with an eye for fine details.
In 1925 John C. Stahl and Donald L. Kinsey created 1015 Bishop.
1006 Bedford Road is a superb example of an early Colonial design created by two men who may not be household names now, but during the early twentieth century had the kind of reputation that was needed to create a home fit for one of Detroit’s most successful realtor’s.
*Photos courtesy of the Higbie Maxon Agney archives unless stated.
Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2016 Katie Doelle