• 18
    Jul
    Posted in:
    A Historic Home Being Renovated in Detroit Reveals A Secret

    The Fox Theatre, the Guardian Building, the Fisher Building, Eastern Market; Detroit is home to numerous sites on the National Register of Historic Places. Now added to this list is a home in Grosse Pointe Shores. The owners of this home, nicknamed “the Ferry home,” were underway with renovations when they discovered some fascinating clues about the home’s construction in the ‘60s.

    This story has an odd twist, and it’s one of many in Detroit where homeowners have found unexpected items while renovating a historic home. As our city continues to rebuild and refurbish its buildings, we’re excited to see what else turns up!

    What Was Hiding in this Historic Home?

    The homeowners of the Ferry home are already contributors to the culture of Downtown Detroit. Anthony and JJ Curis own the Library Street Collective, an art gallery off of Broadway and Gratiot (the same gallery that hosted the work of Charles McGee discussed in an earlier article).

    According to Anthony Curis, the couple used to admire the Ferry Home while paddle boarding on Lake St. Clair before they purchased it . After moving in, they decided to renovate it back to its former glory, preserving as much of the property’s original aesthetics as they could, including its outdoor plants.

    In crawl spaces, including one that was mostly hidden, they found:

    • A set of brick pavers specifically for redoing the patio
    • Oval slit windows for their kitchen
    • A box of photos of the house being built

    These materials all were found serendipitously during the renovation process, the first two being materials that aided their renovations perfectly. On top of that, one of the photos they found revealed the name of a tiling business with the phone number of a company that’s still around today. The Curis family called this phone number and ended up talking to the son of the man who owned the company and worked on the house originally!

    The Curis family has already owned the home for four years, and the property was added to the National Registry in May.

    Lake St. Claire

    Lake St. Claire // Image by Andrea_44 via Flickr


    The National Historic Registry In Detroit

    In addition to the historic home in Grosse Point Shores, there are many properties listed on the national registry. For example, the Grande Ballroom, a former club for rock music, was recently added after struggling to get on the list for over a decade, according to an article by USA Today. The Garden Court, a historic residential building designed by Albert Kahn, is also on the registry. The benefits of officially being listed as a historic site are that you can apply for grants and tax credits that help building owners preserve the integrity of these sites.

    As more properties and historic homes get added to the registry, it’s likely the interest in protecting our city’s past will increase. In Plymouth, locals and city officials are planning what they will do with property that used to be a Ford Motor Co. plant. Parts of the land have fallen into disarray. The city wants to use the property to establish retail spaces and bike paths while the community wants to turn it into an arts/education center. Only time will tell whose plan gets implemented.

    Renovations done on a building or historic home

    Image by Josh and Melanie Rosenthal via Flickr


    How To Preserve the Past

    Destinations like Belle Isle and the Eastern Market often have plaques and signage to teach visitors about their respective pasts. In Kalamazoo, the city has created signage to draw awareness to the land’s formers occupants, a Pottawatomi tribe. Places that have had contemporary renovations might also benefit from vinyl wall decals inside to educate people on how the structure has changed over the years.

    There are many different sign products that can show how special a historic home or building really is. All it takes is an interested property owner and a talented sign company to make it happen.


    Featured image by Dennis van Zuijlekom via Flickr
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