Last week we explored 130 Kenwood, completed in 1926. J. Ivan Dise designed the English Tudor style home for Luther David Thomas. It is one of the larger Dise homes in Grosse Pointe.
This week we head to a lost estate, 10 Moross – on the corner of Moross and Lake Shore. It is believed this once grand home was designed in the early 20th century (around 1905) by Louis Kamper and razed in 1968.
Born in Bavaria, Germany in 1861, Louis Kamper emigrated to the U.S with his family in 1880. He arrived in Detroit in 1888, and quickly established himself on the architectural scene, joining the firm of Scott & Scott, becoming partner within a year. The majority of Kamper’s career focused largely on two areas — designing magnificent residences for the city’s rich executives, and creating some of the city’s most glamorous hotels. This included the 33-story Book-Cadillac Hotel for the Book family. When it was completed, in 1923, it was the tallest hotel in the world at the time.
10 Moross was located on an expansive 460’ x 210’ sq ft lot adjacent to 365 Lake Shore (a turn of the century Victorian, Queen Anne style home owned by John Wynn). It was an imposing Colonial style home overlooking Lake St. Clair. The white wood clad residence featured a steeply pitched roof and a grand two-story portico on the front elevation complete with six tall columns, and a distinctive balcony on the second floor – the architect, Louis Kamper, added porticos, as a dominant architecture feature, on several of his projects during the early twentieth century. Lofty porticos were extremely common in stately plantation houses of the Old South, which provided generous shelter from the summer sun. There were (and are) many fabulous examples in some of the grand homes in Grosse Pointe. The exterior also includes three dominant dormers on the roof and a multitude of large windows. A further one-story portico was also located on the side elevation, the entrance to the driveway. The design of 10 Moross is similar to that of 195 Lake Shore (completed in 1898), the Hugo Scherer mansion, that was also designed by Louis Kamper – the images below show the close resemblance of the homes. The first image is of 10 Moross, courtesy of momentcar.com (shows the front of the home, and a Packard (model 348), 1914). The second image is of 195 Lake Shore courtesy of Grosse Pointe 1880 – 1930’ by Madeleine Socia and Suzy Berschback, and come via the H. Livingstone Bogle Collection.
The interior of 10 Moross included a marbled covered foyer, a large hall, dining room, and a covered terrace. There were two living rooms- one formal and large, the other was smaller and more of a ‘living room’. Both rooms had a fantastic view of Lake St. Clair to watch passing freighters. The second floor had six bedrooms and two bedrooms for maids. Further bedrooms for staff were located on the third floor.
It is not clear who originally commissioned Louis Kamper to design the property. From our files, we know Walter Hock owned the property for many years. We also understand the property was remodeled in the early 1930’s by Walter Hock, at a cost of $25,000 (around $480,000 today). After the updates were completed it appears Mr. Hock rented the property for many years to James J. Phelan, Jr.
James J. Phelan, Jr. was a native of Boston. He attended Boston Latin School and Harvard University, graduating in 1924. He was a partner in the investment firm of Hornblower and Weeks. The firm was located in Boston; however, Mr. Phelan ran the New York office and represented their clients on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1930, James J. Phelan, Jr. relocated to Detroit to establish an office to serve the firm’s clients in the city. One client in particular made a significant amount of money mining copper in the Upper Peninsular. It is reported Mr. Phelan’s client was interested in joining a group of men to manufacture cars. The firm’s name was General Motors and his name was Louis Chevrolet. Information was kindly supplied by Mimi Fuger (granddaughter of James J. Phelan, Jr.).
In 1932, James J. Phelan, Jr. married Ellen Hammond Skae – they had two daughters. From our files it appears the couple rented a property while updates to 10 Moross were made. After the Phelan family moved in they continued to be tenants for many years. In 1950, the couple purchased the property from the Hock estate for $25,000 (around $272,000 today – it was originally listed for $50,000). It is reported the Phelan home was a ‘gathering place’, many parties were held there and door was always open to friends. In 1966, James Phelan sold the residence for $90,000 (around $730,000 today). The Phelan’s retired to their country home in Lapeer County near the town of Metamora, MI.
Rudolph Palombit purchased 10 Moross. One year later, in 1967, Dave Williamson bought the property for $111,000 (around $874,000 today). Shortly after, in 1968, developers razed the property and the land was subdivided. The diagram below shows how the original lot was divided to accommodate the new properties. Today, there are six homes on the site where 10 Moross once located:
- 14,16,18, & 20 Harbor Court – built between 1969 through 1976
- 361 Lake Shore – built in 1974
- 357 Lake Shore – built in 1977
It appears the entrance to the cul-de-sac of Harbor Court was originally the location to the drive that lead to the side entrance of 10 Moross – the once magnificent home that was part of the collection of grand estates on Lake Shore.
We would like to thank Mimi Fuger for contacting us about 10 Moross –the property, once owned by her grandfather, is a wonderful part of Grosse Pointe history.
*Photos courtesy of the Higbie Maxon Agney archives unless stated.
Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2021 Katie Doelle