Last week we explored several homes on St. Clair Avenue, Part 1 – the early cottages that were constructed at the beginning of the 20th century.
This week we continue our exploration of more homes on the street, along with sharing a brief history of one of Grosse Pointe’s oldest schools.
The homes we have chosen to profile this week continue with the them of the first post – in that they were built between 1900 – 1916, and display characteristics of Colonial, Craftsman and Victorian architectural styles.
However, lets start with one of Grosse Pointe’s oldest schools – located at 389-399 St. Clair Avenue. The Cadieux School – now referred to as the Grosse Pointe Schools Administrative Buildings – was built in 1905-1906, by the renowned architectural firm of Stratton and Baldwin. Based on research by Grosse Pointe Historical Society, the school was named the Cadieux School after the Cadieux family who resided in the Village. Francis Cadieux served as the District No. 1 School Inspector for 33 years.
It was the second school building to be built around this era for the Grosse Pointe School’s (District #1). The original two-story building was home to eight classrooms, and around 240 pupils. In 1916-18, a north building, 399 St Clair, was added for the school to increase its capacity. By 1924 the two buildings catered for students of all ages, from kindergarten through to twelfth grade.
Over the years the buildings have undergone numerous updates and renovations. Between 2002-2003 the buildings underwent major changes, which included fully connecting the two sections. Source: Grosse Pointe Historical Society.
Of the handful of schools built in this era only two original buildings remain – the Cook School on Mack and the Cadieux School on St. Clair.
It wasn’t just the school that was being constructed at the turn of the twentieth century; more homes were also being built. Prior to 1905 five of the oldest homes on the street had been completed – numbers 475, 469, 569 were built in 1901, while 479 and 547 were constructed in 1903.
Number 569, originally known as the Blondell Farmhouse, is one of the few wood-frame farmhouses that remain standing in the community from the era of Ribbon Farms. Many of these farmhouses lined the shores of The Detroit River and Lake St. Clair in the 1700’s and 1800s.
The Blondell Farmhouse, now located at 569 St. Clair, was constructed in 1865 – making it one of the oldest homes in our community. When it was first built, research from the Grosse Pointe Historical Society states that it was located close to the corner of Notre Dame St. and Jefferson Ave. It was moved to its present location in 1920. Over the past few years the house has been painstakingly restored inside and out, bringing it back to its former glory, thus persevering an important piece of history in the community. In 2016 the house received a bronze historic plaque from the Grosse Pointe Historical Society.
Number 479 is a 2,000 sq ft home, created in the farmhouse architectural style. From the time it was built, in 1903, until at least 1999 the home had remained in the same family for 90 years.
Number 403 was constructed in 1908. It is unclear what the layout of the home was at the time of completion, but it now is split up into two units to create numbers 403 and 405. Each 1,706 sq ft unit contains 2 bedrooms and 1 bath.
1908 through to 1913 was a significant period of construction for St. Clair Avenue. Numbers 443, 437, 415, 409 and 449 were completed in 1910, while numbers 544, 548, 419 and 509 were completed in 1913 and 1916 respectively.
Number 415 is a rather interesting home. Not only does it possess a very different look to many of the homes that surround it, it had to go on a little journey to get to where it is located today. From research by the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, we understand the residence was originally located at the foot of Notre Dame on Lake St. Clair. The building was purchased, and its new owner Mr. Trombley, moved it to a piece of land he owned on St. Clair Avenue. The cottage, complete with its surrounding porches and field stone fireplace was placed on wooden rollers and arrived at its current location in 1910. The homes hip roof, enclosed porches and eyebrow windows create an almost barn like structure, which has been enhanced even further by its striking red color.
Number 437 is a 1, 911 sq ft is loosely based on The Craftsman architectural approach. The large open porch on the front elevation creates a rather dominant feature.
Number 544 is one of the smaller homes on the street. The original home was around 1,176 sq ft, with one floor and just six rooms – as the floor plan below demonstrates. The current home on this lot was built in 1999. The photo below is pre 1990.
This concludes our exploration of St. Clair Avenue. The homes on the street not only provide a wonderful insight into how the Grosse Pointe has evolved, but provide a superb example of how diverse the architecture in this community truly is.
*Photos courtesy of the Higbie Maxon Agney archives unless stated.
Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2017 Katie Doelle