Last week we continued our story on the lost estates with three magnificent homes created by Trowbridge and Ackerman between 1909 and 1915, which have now been demolished.
This week we continue with the theme of lost estates, but turn to four homes that are proving to be somewhat of an enigma. Most of the homes we feature can be attributed to a particular architect, and the original owner can be identified. With books, files, and online research there is, if you like, a “paper trail” to authenticate their story. However, every now and again we come across a residence that can prove to be rather stubborn when it comes to tracing its story. This week we have four homes – 677 Lake Shore, 605 Lake Shore, 70 Lake Shore, and 215 Lake Shore – that fall into this category. All four homes were once magnificent estates on Lake Shore, all four have been demolished, and all four are too good to be forgotten.
Lets start with 677 Lake Shore – a stunning Italian Villa, attributed to William B. Stratton in 1924. Information on properties designed by Mr. Stratton is normally relatively easy to locate. We have, after all, featured most of his work in Grosse Pointe, including the fellow designers he worked with up until 1932. And yet this project at 677 Lake Shore is a bit of a mystery. We do know that during this period he was associated with fellow architects Dalton J. V. Snyder, and Arthur K. Hyde. And that he was working on several projects in the community at the time – 341 Lakeland and 15355 Windmill Pointe, both of which were vastly different in style to this Italian Villa.
John N. Stalker commissioned the home. It appears the residence was around 5,000 sq ft. The exterior was painted grey stucco on hollow tile. On the rear elevation is an ornate balcony over a glass-covered porch (10’ x 24’ sq ft), dominated by the three archways on the main floor. The main floor also included a large 16’ x 24’ sq ft entrance hall, a grand 17’ x 39’ sq ft living room along with a 17’ x 18’ sq ft dining room. The garage was part of the house, and attached to the garage were the quarters for the chauffeur, which featured a bedroom, kitchen and a living room. The second floor contained the library, a sunroom, three bedrooms along with an open porch and two additional bedrooms for maids. It appears Mr. and Mrs. Stalker listed the home in 1935 for $75,000 (around $1.3m today). It was last sold in 1997, having been listed for $1.25m, and from our files appears to have been demolished that same year. A new house was built on the lot in 1998.
70 Lake Shore was a stunning English Tudor style home located on the shores of Lake St. Clair with 297 ft of sea wall. It appears it was built in 1910 for Mr. H. Chalmers, and then enlarged in 1921. The exterior construction is partly stucco on concrete block, and partly stucco on metal lath. The rear of the home is particularly fascinating, with a rather unique design, and one can image it had a beautiful garden. The 2-½ story residence contained 15 rooms including a large 30’ x 31’ sq foot living room (overlooking the lake), and a 14’ x 16’ sq ft solarium on the first floor. The second floor featured five bedrooms (the master was 22’ x 14’ sq ft) a sitting room, along with two bedrooms, and a living room for the maids. It was purchased in 1948 for $47,500 (around $500,000 today). It was sold in 1995 and was demolished in the late 1990’s.
605 Lake Shore was a striking Dutch Colonial built in 1898 for William C. Roney. Based on the floor plans below it contained an open porch, living room, library and a dining room on the first floor. The second floor featured a living room, along with six bedrooms. Mr. Roney wanted to sell the property in 1929 for $250,000 (around $3.6m today). We believe, by the early 1960’s, the property was listed for $42,000 (around $351,000 today), with the house being described by the bank as ‘probably being of no value’, while the seller had a plan for dividing the property into four lot’s. It is not clear when the home was demolished, a new house was built in 1981.
215 Lake Shore – The following information (written on the back of the photo), and image are courtesy of the Detroit Public Library digital collection. ‘The house was built by George V.N. Lothrop in 1847, the second earliest summer home to be built by a Detroit business man in Grosse Pointe. Mr. Lothrop was a prominent Detroit lawyer, and U.S. minister to Russia (1885-8). The house stood originally at the northeast corner on the farm of Commodore Alexander Grant. Around 1920 two-thirds of the Lothrop lake frontage was sold to John Dodge of Dodge Bros., and the Lothrop house was moved about three hundred feet toward Detroit. Members of the Lothrop family occupied the house for one hundred years, its last occupant being Mrs. Cyrus Lothrop, widow of G.V.N. Lothrop’s youngest son. She died in 1947. This picture was taken in 1948. The house was torn down in 1949’.
We wish we could uncover more facts about these unique residences, in particular the architect who designed 70 Lake Shore. If anyone has any additional information on these magnificent homes we would love to hear from you. These four beautiful residences may have gone, but they are certainly too good to be forgotten.
*Photos courtesy of the Higbie Maxon Agney archives unless stated.
Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2019 Katie Doelle