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Volume VI Issue 4                                                                                             

4th Quarter 1998 


Beth Pressler, CRS, GRI, LTG

Higbie Maxon Agney, Inc. REALTORS®
83 kercheval
grosse pointe farms, mi 48236

Toll Free 1.888.886.4060


  • Showdown of the Showhouses


It’s not very often that a current Junior League of Detroit Designers’ Show House AND a previous Junior League of Detroit Designers’ Show House are on the market at the same time! But it is happening...at least as of the writing of this article. (Not only is this an unprecedented occurrence ~ this is the first duplication of a featured listing in real trends for the 90’s!)

A tale of two mansions on Windmill Pointe has conjured up quite a bit of conversation! The two homes certainly have had their share of history and now share the honor as being chosen for the Junior League of Detroit Designers’ Show House. Great similarities are present and tremendous differences as well in these two homes.

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15420 Windmill Pointe Dr.,Grosse Pointe Park

Both are situated on the picturesque Windmill Pointe Drive on Grosse Pointe Park’s premiere lakefront boulevard. Both were in dire need of refurbishment and will benefit from the renovations and notoriety of the Designers’ Show House. That’s about where the similarities end.

Bellmor (shown in the photo above), a 12,000 square foot English Tudor was designed by architect Robert O. Derrick in 1928 for the J. Bell Moran family.

Beautiful detailing and grandly proportioned rooms are the hallmark of this gracious home. Fleur-de-lis and Irish rose plasterwork is but a sample of the superior detail featured in this magnificent home.

Bellmor was the 1990 Junior League of Detroit Designers’ Show House. The owners at that time moved into the carriage house during the renovation and transformation of this grand home. The home was sold in 1997 for over $2,000,000 and is currently offered at $3,200,000.

The current Show House located at 15520 Windmill Pointe Drive is a Georgian Revival by design. In the elegant Show House "magazine", Thomas W. Brunk, Ph.D/President, The Saarinen (Michigan) Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians writes an informative story of the beginnings of this mansion.

Dr. Brunk sets the record straight after rampant rumors of the mansion being floated via barge up the Detroit River to it’s current location on Windmill Pointe. Dr. Brunk writes that the, "mansion was designed by Detroit architect Alpheus W. Chittenden... for John B. Ford who founded Michigan Alkali company...in Wyandotte in 1889. The home was originally built on the riverside of East Jefferson Avenue in Indian Village. It remained there until 1928 when J. B. Ford’s son and daughter-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick S. Ford, moved it by truck to Windmill Pointe. Mrs. Frederick S. Ford (Ester) was the daughter of Pewabic Pottery’s cofounder Horace J. Caulkins. The Frederick S. Fords lived in this home from 1929-1951."

Interesting comparisons of these two homes are observed. The previous Show House at 15420 Windmill Pointe is 2,000 Sq. Ft. smaller than the current Show House.

However, the current Show House lake frontage is half that of 15420 Windmill Pointe. The previous Show House has exquisite examples of craftsmanship as evidenced by pegged oak hardwood floors, intrigal carved oak paneling, 6 fireplaces and detailed patterned plasterwork. The current Show House certainly has its share of detailed plasterwork and fireplaces. One is immediately impressed by the current Show Houses’ foyer and grand sweeping staircase.

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15520 Windmill Pointe Dr.,Grosse Pointe Park                                                                                                                                                                                                   

It would be a difficult choice should you find yourself having to decide between the J. B. Ford Residence vs. Belmor.

I would be happy to help you or someone you know in the decision-making process...granted, if one could afford such grand residences. The current Show House is available for viewing until October 18th for $15.00 per person. (Hours vary...call the Junior League of Detroit, Inc. office at 313.881.0040). Definitely a must for those seeking decorating ideas or devotees of lovely restored historic homes!


Email me at: beth@bethpressler.com

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