Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Historic 355 Lincoln

Last week we presented the history of St. Clare, parish school and church. The origins of the parish date back to 1923. In 1927, the first parish school opened, designed by Van Leyen, Schilling & Keogh. The new church was dedicated in 1953, designed by Diehl and Diehl. This week we head to 355 Lincoln, one of the most distinguished homes in Grosse Pointe City. The 8,700 sq ft English Manor was designed by the renowned New York based firm Alfred Hopkins & Associates for Dr. Theodore McGraw, Jr. The gardens were designed by legendary landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman.

355 Lincoln was completed in 1923. It is a striking property and markedly prominent in the community. The house has beautiful architectural details inside and out, so much so it requires viewing the home several times to notice all the many elements. The exterior is particularly interesting, much of the trim work around the doors and windows is thick limestone that features intricate carvings – ships; grapes and vines; motifs; patterns; and shields – all of which were incredibly popular on homes of this magnitude that were constructed during the 1920’s. The exterior walls are finished in stucco, while the roof is slate. Photos courtesy of Katie Doelle.


The interior also has countless details, it is awash with beautiful woodwork, decorative carved limestone, while the plaster has multiple intricate motifs on the ceilings, walls, and the grand fireplaces. The immense 40’ x 23’ sq ft living room dominates the main floor, along with the 24’ x 23’ sq ft dining room, and the magnificent two story 35’ x 23’ sq ft library. The library is arguably the most impactful room in the house, with an 18’ barrel ceiling, two-story window, a choir loft, along with a balcony with its beautifully carved railing. The library is connected to the living room via an enclosed walkway with three oversized arches. The arches are now windows; however, it may have been an open walkway when the property was first constructed. Meanwhile the kitchen has a butler’s pantry and still has the original (fully working) oak paneled refrigerator made by Chrysler & Koppin. Close up detail photos courtesy of Katie Doelle.

The second floor has five bedrooms, the largest being 34’ x 11’ sq ft.  The residence once had additional bedrooms on the third floor (for maids), an elevator, along with a four-room apartment over the garage, along with a gardener’s work room at the rear of the garage. Photo courtesy of Katie Doelle.

The architect Alfred Hopkins was an estate architect who specialized in country houses and in particular model farms in an invented “vernacular” style to suite the “American elite.” Source: Wikipedia. Hopkins was born in Saratoga Springs, New York, March 14, 1870. In the early 1890’s he studied at the internationally acclaimed Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, which was followed by several years of architectural study in Rome. By 1898, he had returned to the U.S. and resided in New York City. During this stage of his career, it is reported Hopkins specialized in the design of farming complexes for the American capitalist during the Gilded Age. Source: Wikipedia.

Around 1900, Hopkins had become associated with Edward Burnett, an agricultural specialist. Based on information on Wikipedia we understand “together they designed some of the country’s most extraordinary farms. Their work, particularly Hopkins architectural style, established the standard for farm architecture and influenced an entire generation of architects.”

In 1913, Hopkins established Alfred Hopkins & Associates, located at 101 Park Avenue in New York City. Throughout his career he continued to work on a broad spectrum of projects – commercial, agricultural, and residential. Here in Grosse Pointe, it appears he designed at least two homes – 355 Lincoln (1913) and 15410 Windmill Pointe Drive (built in 1924, for William P. Harris). Alfred Hopkins married Adelaide Spenlove-Spenlove in 1915, in London, England. He passed on May 5,1941, having enjoyed an incredible career.

Alfred Hopkins was not the only recognized designer to work on 355 Lincoln, the garden was designed by nationally renowned landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman. The American landscape architect was known for her formal gardens and lush planting style. Shipman, throughout her career, created over 650 gardens, including at least 60 in Grosse Pointe – more than any other community in the United States. Some of her better-known projects in the community include: The John S. Newberry Estate, the gardens at Alger House (now known as the Grosse Pointe War Memorial), 15366 Windmill Pointe Drive, 99 Lothrop, 251 Lincoln, 22 Webber Place, 447 Lake Shore, 109 Kenwood, and Rose Terrace.

The owner of 355 Lincoln was Dr. Theodore McGraw, Jr. He was the son of Dr. Theodore McGraw, the founder of the Detroit Medical College, which would later become Wayne State University School of Medicine. Dr. Theodore McGraw, Jr. was born in Detroit, 1875. He graduated from Yale, and the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City where he received a medical degree in 1902. In 1904, he returned to Detroit and entered private medical practice as a surgeon. However, due to issues with his health and only a partially successful thyroidectomy he returned to Harvard Medical School to undertake postgraduate work in internal medicine, specializing in endocrinology. Then, during World War I he spent a year with Base Hospital Unit #36 (sponsored by the Detroit College of Medicine and Surgery Unit), stationed in Vittel, France.

Following his discharge from the army Dr. McGraw had another thyroidectomy, but once again it was only partially successful, and he returned to his medical practice and undertook further endocrinological research. Source: Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University. In October 1924, while on a work-related trip he contracted a severe infection and sadly passed within 48 hours. He was married to Esther Longyear Murphy and together they had a son (born in 1917). It is not clear how long Mrs. Ester McGraw continued to reside at 355 Lincoln after her husband’s untimely death. Mrs. McGraw passed in January 1934.

355 Lincoln is a magnificent home. With Alfred Hopkins, Ellen Biddle Shipman, and Dr. Theodore McGraw, Jr. the house is associated with the elite, the best of the best.


*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 © 2023 Katie Doelle