Historic preservation is rewarding. In addition, restoring neglected structures is important and sustainable. Why is this? First, the vast existence of abandoned or neglected structures are endangered and are begging for restoration. Second, preservation builds character in neighborhoods, and finally, preservation is sustainable because the process reuses valuable building materials, some of which are no longer available. This is one of the benefits of living in a historic district; higher property values for homeowners.
In many cases, it costs less to preserve, than to tear down and start over in most cases. However, there are exceptions, especially when the neglected structure is in danger of collapse, which also endangers its surroundings.
Sometimes the economic pitfalls may not agree with a community or the property owners. It is a decision, owners and preservation boards have to make.
Main Facade Photo Credit: Charles Sable
This post is the second in an ongoing series on the subject. This time, we find ourselves in Detroit Michigan's historic suburb, known as "Berry Sub." Located a short distance from Stanton Park, the property is 1923 Tudor Revival, designed by American architect, Robert O. Derrick, for the American Film director, John Ford. This red brick home contains 7538 square feet, and has six to nine bathrooms, and four fireplaces. Tudor style domestic architecture originated in the United Kingdom.
Level One Floor Plan Photo Credit: Charles Sable
"American Tudor Revival is among the most recognizable styles of domestic architecture. These picturesque houses, usually of brick or stone, fill entire suburban neighborhoods. English architecture had long influenced American taste, of course, from the Colonial houses of New England and Virginia, through the Gothic Revivals of the 19th century. But never was Anglophilia more apparent than during the Tudor craze. In the first wave, the wealthy asked their architects to build stone manors replete with Jacobean parapets and oriels. As the style peaked during the 1920s and ’30s, streetcar suburbs sprouted pitched-roof cottages with masonry veneer and decorative half-timbering. Mansion or cottage, the Tudor Revival house is usually asymmetrical and dominated by a steep, multi-gabled roof.
The revival dates back to late-Victorian interest in medieval times. From about 1895 to 1915, picturesque half-timbering was rare; the stone buildings tended more toward Flemish gables and Renaissance façade ornaments. Tudor took hold after 1905, coincident with the American Arts & Crafts movement—another medieval revival. By the 1920s, Tudor was more popular than even the Colonial Revival style, in some upscale towns. Steep roofs and half-timbered gables appeared on small planbook houses and stockbroker manors alike. Most houses were well built but not opulent; the style hinted at deeper “roots” and lent an illusion of Anglo aristocracy to the middle and upper-middle classes moving to new suburbs."
Front Entrance Details Photo Credit: Charles Sable
Entry Hall Photo Credit: Charles Sable
Living Room Photo Credit: Charles Sable
Second Floor Hallway Photo Credit: Charles Sable
Architect Robert O. Derrick designed the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, Michigan. Charles Sable is the curator for the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, and writes a detailed article on the website's front page.
He begins by saying, "Robert Ovens Derrick (1890-1961) was an unlikely candidate for the commission. He was a young architect, trained at Yale and Columbia Universities, with only three public buildings to his credit, all in the Detroit area. He was interested in 18th century Georgian architecture and the related Colonial Revival styles, which were at the peak of their popularity in the 1920s..."
Architect Robert O. Derick in 1930. Photo Credit: Charles Sable
Henry Ford Museum Proposals - Drawings
Front of Museum, southeast corner. Photo Credit: Charles Sable
"...view of the front of the museum from the southeast corner. This view is close to the form of the completed museum, at least from the front. An examination of the side of the building shows a two-storied wing."
Museum Corridor Photo Credit: Charles Sable
"These corridors, known today as the Prechter Promenade, run the width of the museum. Floored with marble and decorated with elaborate plasterwork, the promenade is the first part of the interior seen by guests..."
You can access this links below to the museum to read the full story on the collaboration between the architect and Henry Ford, and browse other properties around the country with their own story to tell.
Read more in general about the economic impacts of historic preservation (civic building), "Measuring the Impacts of Historic Preservation."
Read more about historic preservation on the domestic side in Kentucky, that can apply to any state, city, and community. If you have further interest conduct your own research from where you live.
Finally, look for a future post in July on Art Deco architecture and preservation history in Washington, DC and beyond.