Where do you start with Rose Terrace? Arguably one of Grosse Pointes most famous and opulent mansions, ask any Grosse Pointe resident over a certain age and they will remember its demolition in the summer of 1976.There have in fact been two ‘Rose Terraces’, so lets start with ‘Rose Terrace’ number 1. In 1912 Horace Dodge and his wife Anna Thompson Dodge hired Albert Kahn to design a palatial red sandstone house on Jefferson Avenue.
The garden featured a series of terraces that went all the way down to Lake St Clair. Anna Dodge filled the terraces with roses and the home was dubbed ‘Rose Terrace’.
In 1920 Horace died, and after marrying Actor Hugh Dillman in 1926 the couple set about creating ‘Rose Terrace’ number 2. The couple purchased the nearby Country Club of Detroit and tore down both the clubhouse and the original Rose Terrace to accommodate the new property hiring Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer to design the new home.
Horace Trumbauer was a prominent American architect of the Gilded Age. He was best known for designing opulent residential manors for the wealthy before moving onto designing hotels, office buildings and much of the campus of Duke University. He was a very successful designer and yet, at the time, his work rarely received positive critical recognition. Today, however, he is recognized as one of America’s premier architects with many of his buildings drawing critical acclaim.
Construction began in 1931 and was completed in 1934 at a cost of $4m. The French Louis XV chateau was constructed from brick, surfaced with limestone, and its mansard roof was sheathed in copper. Upon completion the mansion was 42,000 Sq Ft, had 75 rooms (including 42 main rooms), fifteen fireplaces, 40 French doors, 37 sofas, 615 silk lampshades and more than 100 tables. Much of the décor had come the imperial palaces of Russia and included many notable pieces – a bureau made for Catherine the Great and a jewel casket that had belonged to Russian Empress Maria Feodornova.
The classic French interior boasted 18ft high ceilings (on the first floor), wrought iron staircases, parquet flooring, ornately carved marble fireplaces, enormous crystal chandeliers, and carved oak paneling. Art and antiques dealer Lord Duveen in decorating the home spent over $2.5m including the purchase of paintings by Gainesborough, Boucher and Van Dyck.
Landscaping was designed by prominent horticulturalist Ellen Biddle Shipman (she was by now a familiar face in Grosse Pointe), 150yr old boxwood hedges were imported from England and elaborate floral and sculpture gardens, including statues, rose garden pool and a pavilion surrounded these.
Following Mrs. Dodges death in 1970 the contents were sold at auction and the property was used by local organizations for fundraisers and meetings. However there were to be no buyers who wanted to maintain the house and despite efforts to save the mansion (for its historical significance) the property was demolished.
Rose Terrace may be gone but it will never be forgotten…you can learn more about the Dodge property by viewing these fascinating videos.
Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2015 Katie Doelle