Historical Architecture of Grosse Pointe – Provencals Modern Marvels

Last week we explored 16638 E Jefferson, originally built for Frank W. Eddy in 1911-12. In 1927, under the new ownership of John B. Ford Jr., the house underwent an extensive remodel to create the property we know today. This week we head to one of the most prestigious streets in Grosse Pointe Farms, Provencal, to explore the elegant modern marvels, many of which were built by the respected architect/builder Hilary H. Micou in the late 1950’s and 1960’s.

The homes on Provencal evoke a sense of grandeur – timeless designs created in an array of architectural styles that have been designed by some of Detroit’s leading architects. Most of the homes on this private road were completed prior to the 1940, however, post 1950 the development of Provencal has not stood still. Several of the grand homes that were built in the 1920’s have been demolished to make way for newer homes with leading architects and builders taking advantage of the available lots to create modern homes for their clientele. We use the word ‘modern’ in a loose sense – just because a home was designed in the 1950’s, it doesn’t always resemble the contemporary style associated with that era. Many of the ‘modern’ properties on Provencal were designed with a formal elegance that was generally associated with the style of the 1920’s. And it is these ‘modern’ homes on Provencal that we be focusing on.

320 Provencal
Custom designed and built by Milton L. Grigg, best known for his work in the field of historic preservation, 320 Provencal is an authentic reproduction of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, near Charlottesville Virginia, built in 1772. Based on research by the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, the two-story 4,513 sq ft property includes four bedrooms, a maid’s room and a bathhouse. The entrance to the home boasts a magnificent portico with four columns, believed to be two thirds sized replica of the north portico found at Monticello. It is reported the front doors are mahogany, containing 480 pieces.

Once inside many of the rooms have superb architectural features. The drawing room has a parquet floor, while the plaques in the mantel are antique Wedgewood. In the living room there is a fabulous chandelier – bronze silver-plated (reportedly acquired from the Spanish Embassy in Washington), with large Waterford Crystals that are rumored to have come from the Oval Room in the Whitehouse. The living room also features a walnut parquet floor along with historical silver sconces, allegedly purchased originally for the Governors Palace at Williamsburg. The family room has a solid oak beam ceiling, brick walls, a hand-pegged hardwood floor, while the ceiling frieze contains 18 separate pieces of wood and has a unique special rough plastered finish.

The formal garden was designed by landscape architect F. Bruce Winkworth, a prominent designer who had previously worked on several landscape projects in Grosse Pointe. It is believed close to $40,000 was spent in the garden at 320 Provencal (around $350,000 today).

388 Provencal
Built in 1957, 388 Provencal is a 5,032 sq ft brick Colonial home built by Hilary H. Micou – a prolific builder of multiple homes in Grosse Pointe. During a career that spanned three decades Micou built many prestigious homes in the community in conjunction with some of Detroit’s most recognized architects. The homes he built span several decades – from the late 1920’s through to the late 1950’s.

180 Provencal
Also built by Micou, 180 Provencal is a magnificent 10,854 sq ft Georgian Colonial home built in 1958. It is reminiscent of many of the grand homes built in the 1920’s and features all the exquisite details you would expect to find from a home of this grandeur. It is set on nearly 2 acres and overlooks the Country Club of Detroit golf course.

324 Provencal
Keeping with the work of Micou, 324 Provencal was completed in 1964. The 6,825 sq ft house features five bedrooms, six full baths, a library, family room, and an elevator. Many of the ceilings are 10ft high. The exterior features a superb bay window on the front elevation, and wonderful brick detailing – evocative of the style from the 1920’s.

360 Provencal
Built in 1966, 360 Provencal is designed with a French architectural approach. Micou once again built the home to evoke a classic look and feel. The interior of this 3,917 sq ft brick home has a paneled library, a large living room with a superb natural fireplace, along with pegged hardwood flooring in the foyer, a library, living room, and a dining room. As with so many of the residences on Provencal the grounds are beautifully landscaped and overlook the Country Club of Detroit.

Provencal is a unique street with an eclectic mix of the old and the new. And whether the homes were built in the 1920’s or constructed after the 1950’s we can certainly conclude all the properties are beautifully formed and play their part in shaping the history of this special road.



*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