Last week we introduced you to some of the hidden homes on the lake in Grosse Pointe Shores. Many of these homes, constructed between 1900 and 1918, are concealed from the road, and their elegance remains hidden. The construction of these homes spans many years, and we would like to continue with our exploration with the introduction of several more superb properties constructed between 1923 and 1934.
Grosse Pointe Shores has undergone a number of transitions over the years, in terms of growth, population, and being recognized as a community in its own right. By the 1920’s Grosse Pointe Shores was establishing itself as a haven for some of Detroit’s wealthiest families. The area had witnessed the construction of numerous grand homes, with many having been designed by nationally renowned architects, including the Ford Estate by Albert Kahn. Located on the site known as Gaukler Pointe (where the Milk River flowers into Lake St. Clair.) the Ford Estate was completed in 1927, and was the pinnacle of exquisite design and fine landscaping.
The 1920’s was the era of large lots and grand residences in the Grosse Pointe communities, none more so than in Grosse Pointe Shores, reflected in the following estates:
725 Lake Shore: Situated on a 12-acre estate – completed in 1934 – designed by Robert O’Derrick in association with Ralph Adams Cram.
This magnificent estate built for Standish Backus was as grand as they come. Aside from being a prime example of a Tudor mansion, this property was also noted for its exquisite gardens, designed by nationally recognized landscape designer Fletcher Steele.
No expense was spared in creating the 40-room residence; the house was finished with beautiful wood paneling, fine mantels and friezes. The home also featured an 8-car garage with electric doors, a telephone system to connect all the rooms, and a walk-in vault to protect the families silver service. The house was demolished in 1966. You can read the full story about this home by clicking here.
735 Lake Shore: Size unknown – completed in 1930 – designed by Albert Kahn.
In 1930, Alvan Macauley, president of Packard, commissioned Kahn to create a grand home on Lake Shore. Kahn incorporated many traits of the traditional English Cotswold style, and combined it with the recognized traits of the distinctive Tudor manor homes, which were now extremely popular around Grosse Pointe. The house was demolished in 1973. You can read the full story about this home by clicking here.
890 Lake Shore: 5,215 sq ft – completed in 1934 – built by Hilary Micou.
Micou was a prolific builder of homes in Grosse Pointe with over 30 homes to his name. Many of his properties span several decades – from the late 1920’s through to the late 1950’s, and embrace numerous architectural styles.
910 Lake Shore: 6,500 sq ft – completed in 1928 – designed by Arthur DesRosiers.
Arthur DesRosiers was a versatile architect. He designed several churches in the Metro Detroit area, including the St. Alphonsus Church in Dearborn and the Art Deco inspired St. Michael Orthodox Church in Redford Township.
The home Arthur DesRosiers designed on the shores of Lake St. Clair is a classic English manor, in keeping with the style of many grand estates constructed during this era.
915 Lake Shore: 6,500 sq ft – completed in 1923 (this residence, we believe, was demolished, and replaced by a new home constructed in 1986).
The following photo of this seven-bedroom property was taken in 1963. As the floor plan demonstrates this home contained several large rooms on the first floor, including a 13’ x 11’ sq ft hall, a large 15’ x 33’ sq ft living room and a substantial 15’ x 17’ sq ft dining room.
930 Lake Shore: 7,130 sq ft – completed in 1928 – designed by Beckett and Akitt.
The firm of Beckett and Akitt designed this superb English manor home. They designed a number of residences in the Grosse Pointe communities, including 1005 Whittier (built in 1926) and 711 Balfour (also built in 1926).
1000 Lake Shore: size unknown – completed in 1929.
Not much is known about this impressive residence. Our files indicate it was built in 1929 and either demolished or extensively remodeled around 1960 when William C. Ford purchased the home. The current residence sits on an immense 7.38 acre lot. We believe the photos below were taken around 1958.
1030 Lake Shore: 20,000sq ft – completed in 1927 – designed by Albert Kahn.
One of the largest homes to be constructed in Grosse Pointe the Ford Estate was reminiscent of a traditional Cotswold home. The exterior walls are made of sandstone, the roof is slate – the pieces of slate decrease in size as they reach the peak of the roof (a typical look to a Cotswold home) while moss and ivy were grown on the properties exterior. Craftsman from England assisted with its construction to ensure that elements of the building (the roof in particular) were completed in an authentic Cotswold manner. You can read the full story by clicking here.
This concludes our historic adventures along the lake in Grosse Pointe Shores. We hope you have enjoyed our presentation of these historic homes. Some are confined to memory, while others…well you might just catch a glimpse of them as you drive along Lake Shore.
*Photos courtesy of the Higbie Maxon Agney archives unless stated.
Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2017 Katie Doelle