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The most interesting houses in Detroit, part 2

The Brooks Barron Residence

Last year, when we profiled 10 of the most interesting houses in Detroit, we asked you to send us emails, comments, or tweets for more suggestions. If we received enough, we'd make a second list. 

Thanks to you, we got more than enough.

Since so many of these homes were built in the 1800s or for important and historical Detroit figures, we also spoke with Jonathan Peters, a historian, photographer, and tour guide with Pure Detroit for more background. Be sure to check out his blog on Detroit architecture, Love in the D

Without further ado, here are nine more interesting houses in Detroit. 
 

1. The Brooks Barron Residence in Palmer Woods




Known more for his incredible public buildings, like One Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Minoru Yamasaki did design several private homes. One of them is this modernist home in Palmer Woods built in 1953.

It's impossible to fully appreciate its beauty from the street. Perhaps the most interesting feature is its integration of the indoors and outdoors. A courtyard with a pond sits in a covered walkway between sections of the home. Large windows and skylights admit ample light. The grounds also contain a rock garden and lot-sized yard. 

The Barrons were art collectors, even owning a piece by Andy Warhol, and wanted the house to complement their collection. According to Michigan Modern, when a New York art critic visited the home, he credited "both Yamasaki's vision and the Barrons' taste for creating a rare environment in which art and architecture harmonize, rather than compete with, one another."
 

2. Marvin Stanton Home in Joseph Berry Subdivision




Its nickname is "The Castle" and it's easy to see why. 

Marvin Stanton was a Detroit clothing manufacturer who clearly had some flair. His home, designed by renowned architect Louis Kamper who's most known in Detroit for the Book-Cadillac, was completed in the late 1890s. It was the first in what's now the Joseph Berry Subdivision, also home to the Manoogian Mansion, now the wealthiest neighborhood in Detroit. 

The mansion shares many features of a castle, like turrets with crenellations. Within its 13,500 square-feet walls, there's a castle-like 12 fireplaces. Its backyard connects with what's now called the Stanton Canal, which flows into the Detroit River. 
 

3. Lawrence Fisher House




Everything about this mansion, built in the 1920s as the home for Lawrence Peter Fisher, a member of the Fisher Body automobile family, is unusual. It was designed by the famous theater architect C. Howard Crane and incorporated elements of Art Deco, Spanish Revival, and Mediterranean into the exterior and individual rooms.

"If the house is any indication," says Peters, "he was the most flamboyant of the Fisher brothers."

Detroit 1701, a Detroit history blog, notes that despite being over 22,000 square feet and containing four acres of gardens, the mansion has only two bedrooms. "At one point, 200 craftsmen were employed to build this house, many of them apparently brought from Europe for this purpose. The master bathroom is done in lapis blue Pewabic tile. Seventy-five ounces of gold and 140 ounces of silver were used for the interior trim."

Even more peculiar, the mansion became a Hare Krishna temple after being donated to the society in 1975, and remains so today. 
 

4. Art Moderne House in East English Village




With its stucco siding and pastel color scheme, this house on East Outer Drive looks like it belongs in Miami more so Detroit. Like its Art Moderne brethren featured in our last list, it's also distinguished by its curved forms. 


5. Charles Lang Freer House




Railroad magnate Charles Lang Freer lead a fascinating life. Though originally from New York, he moved to Detroit in 1885 and established the Peninsular Car Company, from which he made his fortune. He was friend and patron to James McNeill Whistler, had one of the greatest private collections of eastern art in the U.S., and built a magnificent home on Ferry Street. 

Designed by Wilson Eyre, the house, which is described by the National Register of Historic Places as "a masterpiece of American shingle-style architecture," was completed in 1892. The exterior of the first floor is comprised of limestone, and the second and third floors are shingles made of Michigan oak. 

The carriage house contained "The Peacock Room," a decorative mural masterpiece notable for its Japanese influence and use of gold leaf. After Freer's death, this work, along with the rest of his collection, was donated to create the Freer Gallery of Art at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
 

6. Moses Field House




From the exterior, not a great deal stands out about this home. But its history and owner merit inclusion on this list. 

"Mr. Field had his hands in a lot of different jars," says Peters. 

He was a substantial land holder, owning a great deal of property around this house and the Springwells neighborhood. So much, in fact, that one cross street, Kercheval, is his wife's maiden name and the other, Agnes, is named after his daughter. He also established the first public drinking fountain in Detroit, served his district in U.S. Congress for two years, and was the first president of the Michigan Society Against the Cruelty of Animals.

His home, which is in the style of an Italian villa, was built in the late 1860s. "It's set way back from street," says Peters, "which is indicative of the time it was built when the area was still farmland."
 

7. James Smith Farmhouse




According to Detroit 1701
, "This is one of the most unusual and seemingly misleading historical sites that you will find in Detroit." That's because the aluminum siding conceals what is Detroit's second oldest still-standing home. 

Essentially a wood cabin, it was built in 1830 by James Smith, a farmer, well before the area was annexed by the city of Detroit. There are some clues of the house's age, including its odd angle relative to its neighbors and the uneven bricks from the chimney peeking out of the siding. 

John Carlisle, in a piece for the Detroit Free Press from 2016, wrote of the farmhouse, "Unlike Detroit's officially oldest home, the well-preserved, 1826-built Trowbridge House on Jefferson, the James Smith farmhouse never passed through a succession of careful owners who made efforts to preserve it, never drew praise for its architecture, and didn't enjoy a highly visible location near downtown that kept people's attention focused on its historic significance."

Since then, Preservation Detroit enlisted volunteers to help clean up the house. It's also on the registry of Michigan Historic Places.
 

8. Grandmont Rosedale Home




We love all the little details about this Arts & Crafts style house in Grandmont Rosedale built in 1922, like the stone exterior, the wooded yard, and its rustic, almost fairytale aesthetic. The house wouldn't be out of place in Middle Earth. 

According to its current owner, the original owners were a couple that adopted 13 foster children who apparently lit more than one house fire. There's currently a wood fire oven in the yard that used to be an incinerator and a chimney in the garage. 

The owner, who is a potter and has other artist tenants, wanted to make the home a residency for artists, in large part because of its incredible craftsmanship. "The residency grew out of the architecture of the home," he says. "I believe living in spaces that have a lot of wonder to them fosters creativity."
 

9. Tombstone House on Evergreen Road




The facade looks like a tombstone... Sorry, that's all we got!

We'll just let the picture speak for itself. (Seriously, if you have any more information about this house, please let us know.)

Got suggestions for more interesting houses in Detroit? Comment below or tweet us @modeld. If there's enough, we'll make a part 3! 

All photos by Nick Hagen.
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