Grosse Pointe

Grosse Pointe

Grosse Pointe refers to an area of Metro Detroit, Michigan, United States that comprises five adjacent individual communities. From southwest to northeast, they are:

*Grosse Pointe Park, city
*Grosse Pointe, city
*Grosse Pointe Farms, city
*Grosse Pointe Shores, village (which consists of two townships, Grosse Pointe Township in Wayne County and Lake Township in Macomb County).
*Grosse Pointe Woods, city

The term "Grosse Pointe" is ordinarily used to refer to the entire area, referencing all five individual cities, with a total population of about 50,000. The Grosse Pointes altogether are about twelve square miles, bordered by Detroit on the north and west, Lake St. Clair on the east and south, Harper Woods on the west of some portions, and St. Clair Shores on the north of some portions. The cities are in eastern Wayne County. Essentially all of the Grosse Pointe population is south of the famed Eight Mile Road, making it an anomaly within Metro Detroit, since most other wealthy areas are far north of Eight Mile Road. The Pointes are as few as six or as many as twelve miles (19 km) east and north of downtown Detroit.

Grosse Pointe is one of the most affluent suburban areas in Metro Detroit, sharing a border with northeast Detroit neighborhoods, some of which are affluent themselves, and some of which are depressed. Grosse Pointe has many famous estates. The Russell Alger, Jr., House, at 32 Lake Shore Dr., serves as the Grosse Pointe War Memorial and is open for public tours. The Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, at 1100 Lake Shore Drive, is also open for public tours. On the coast of Lake St. Clair, the area has a waterfront allure. Downtown Grosse Pointe, along Kercheval Avenue from Neff to Cadieux, nicknamed "The Village," is considered by many to be the central downtown for all five of the Grosse Pointes, although each of them (except Grosse Pointe Shores) has several blocks of retail. Downtown Detroit is just over seven miles (11 km) west of this downtown area, accessed by Jefferson Avenue, or several other cross-streets.

The Grosse Pointes have been a settled area since the late 18th century, but most of their development came early in the 20th century. The slender area along Lake St. Clair is often divided on a north-south basis, basically coinciding with the boundaries of the two high schools. The southern areas (basically south and west of Moross Road) feature housing and retail districts that are generally older and more densely organized than those in the north.


Newspapers and community organizations generally serve all five cities, as do the public library and school system, but municipal services are separate. "The Grosse Pointe News", on a weekly basis, and the "Grosse Pointe Times", on a semi-weekly basis, publish local news, though the "Detroit Free Press" and "The Detroit News" provide the majority of regional, national and international news.Each city has at least one municipal park along Lake St. Clair. The landlocked Grosse Pointe Woods has its park at the southern tip of St. Clair Shores, adjacent to Grosse Pointe Shores. Access to each of these parks is restricted to residents of its municipality, causing occasional controversy among residents of both Grosse Pointe and other neighborhoods in Metro Detroit. Jefferson Avenue, a major thoroughfare in Detroit, becomes Lakeshore Drive between Grosse Pointe Farms and Grosse Pointe Shores, and is the scenic carriageway of all five Grosse Pointes, after skirting the eastern neighborhoods of Detroit. Lakeshore Drive was featured on HGTV's television program "Dream Drives" and in the film Grosse Pointe Blank..

The region is home to University Liggett School, Michigan's oldest independent school, and two high schools: Grosse Pointe South High School and Grosse Pointe North High School, which are the termini of the Grosse Pointe Public School System.

Grosse Pointe Farms is home to "The Hill" district, located on a small bluff, which includes offices, stores, restaurants and the main branch of the public library. "The Village", a four-block strip of Kercheval Avenue in Grosse Pointe, is a larger and more retail-focused shopping district. The Village is seeing major investment from private developers, as areas once used for surface parking are being developed into new mixed-use buildings (more information at the Grosse Pointe page). Near its "Cabbage Patch" flat district, Grosse Pointe Park has retail and restaurants on multiple cross-streets, as well as a farmer's market held weekly during the warm months. Grosse Pointe Woods' main business district lies along one of its main roads, Mack Ave.


Grosse Pointe has been, at various stages, a backcountry colonial outpost, a vacation destination for 19th century Detroiters, a fertile area for small orchard owners and farmers, a locale chosen for early 20th century mansions, and, ultimately, an increasingly diverse area with a historic reputation of gentility. The Grosse Pointes were first settled by French farmers in the 1750s after hostilities between Native American tribes and the French occupiers of Fort Pontchartrain. Members of the British empire began arriving around the time of the Revolutionary War. In the 1800s Grosse Pointe continued to be the site of lakefront ribbon farms. Beginning in the 1850s, wealthy residents of Detroit began building second homes in the Grosse Pointe area, and soon afterwards, hunting, fishing, and golf clubs appeared. Some permanent mansions were built in the late 1800s, and with the dawn of the automobile after 1900, Grosse Pointe became a commuter suburb in addition to a playground for wealthy Detroiters. Most of the southern and western areas of Grosse Pointe were filled with permanent single family homes by 1930, with remaining gaps and the northern sections such as Grosse Pointe Woods developing between the Great Depression and the 1960s.

A passenger rail line that connected Detroit to Mt. Clemens along the shore was operational by the late 1890s, making Grosse Pointe more accessible to day-trippers from the city. As the automobile became the primary method of transportation, the shore road was improved, the rail line was decommissioned, and the lakefront itself was largely contained by concrete. The lakeside estates already accessible from Jefferson Avenue in the Park and City did not fall victim to the need for a dedicated shore transportation route, and continued to extend to the lakefront.Over the course of the 20th century, Grosse Pointe was recognized as a notable Midwestern suburb; the wealth of a booming Detroit, recreational activities afforded by the Great Lakes waterway, an international border with Canada, and a focus on quality of education contributed to the successful development of the region.

The Great Depression, however, brought changes. The institution of higher income taxes on the very wealthy, as well as the cost of estate upkeep, resulted in the closing of many large homes, usually with a sale to developers. When sold, the large estate houses were typically demolished and the land divided to accommodate several smaller, more modern, residences. Even as the process of subdivision of estates took place, Grosse Pointe continued to grow and flourish with the steady construction of more modest homes off the lake. The region is now completely developed, and construction of modern homes generally necessitates the demolition of older properties.

Many members of the Ford family, including Edsel Ford (son of Henry Ford) and his wife, Eleanor Clay Ford, as well as Henry Ford II (grandson of Henry Ford), have held homes in Grosse Pointe.

Indicative of the lifestyle historically associated with Grosse Pointe, the region is home to many private clubs. The Country Club of Detroit in Grosse Pointe Farms features a notable classic course, tennis, and traditional amenities. The Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, at the intersection Eight Mile Road (which is named Vernier Rd. as it runs through Grosse Pointe Woods and Grosse Pointe Shores) and Lakeshore Dr. on Lake St. Clair is an acclaimed boating club. The Grosse Pointe Club, also called the "Little Club," is a highly exclusive, historic club on the lakefront, on a site where wealthy Detroiters and Grosse Pointers have gathered for recreation since the 19th century when Grosse Pointe was a cottage-town.

There are fifteen recognized Michigan historical markers in the Grosse Pointes. [ [ Michigan Historical Markers] ]

In popular culture

Grosse Pointe has been frequently referenced in television, film and literature, often as an icon of wealth and luxury. Grosse Pointe is known for a very preppy lifestyle, including dress, auto, and homes. The classic "preppy/old money" style is extremely popular in the area.

The Grosse Pointe area is the setting of two novels by writer Jeffrey Eugenides: "The Virgin Suicides", which is satirical of his high school, University Liggett School, and "Middlesex". Grosse Pointe was also featured in Lisa Birnbach's "Official Preppy Handbook" for its preppy qualities. Included were references to a stereotypical way of speech, the "Grosse Pointe Monotone," and a guide to private clubs and restaurants in the area. A novel, "Grosse Pointe Girl", was written by Grosse Pointe native Sarah Grace McCandless.

The 1997 film "Grosse Pointe Blank" is set almost entirely in Grosse Pointe and shows scenes of Detroit and Grosse Pointe, but was filmed in Chicago and Monrovia, California. The film stars Minnie Driver, Joan Cusack, John Cusack, and Dan Aykroyd. The opening drive sequence was the only scene filmed on location, along Lakeshore Drive. This same road was featured in Michael Moore's 1989 film "Roger & Me".

A number of television programs make reference to the region, most notably "Grosse Pointe" starring Lindsay Sloane, Bonnie Somerville, and Nat Faxon. It aired on The WB Television Network in 2000 and 2001. In the television series "Northern Exposure", pilot Maggie McConnell was a native Grosse Pointer who had moved to Alaska. In the Nickelodeon program "Hey Dude", the character of Brad Taylor was from Grosse Pointe. Finally, in an episode of the Simsons, Homer yells, "Go back to Grosse Pointe" to a bunch of deer that he thinks are fur coat wearing tourists.


Grosse Pointe has a significant collection of Gilded Age architecture and historic structures. Albert Kahn designed the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House (1927) at 1100 Lakeshore Dr. in Grosse Pointe.A&E with Richard Guy Wilson, Ph.D.,(2000). America's Castles: The Auto Baron Estates, "A&E Television Network".] Rose Terrace (1934-1976), the mansion of Anna Dodge, once stood at 12 Lakeshore Dr. in Grosse Pointe. Designed by Horace Trumbauer as a Louis XV styled château, Rose Terrace was an enlarged version of the firm's Miramar in Newport, RI.Zacharias, Patricia (June 24, 2000). [ Mrs. Dodge and the Regal Rose Terrace] . Michigan History, "The Detroit News". Retrieved on November 23, 2007.] A developer, the highest bidder for Rose Terrace, demolished it in 1976 to create an upscale neighborhood. This gave a renewed sense of urgency to preservationists. The Dodge Collection from Rose Terrace may be viewed at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The Italian Renaissance styled Russell A. Alger House (1910), at 32 Lakeshore Dr., by architect Charles A. Platt serves as the Grosse Pointe War Memorial. [ [ Grosse Pointe War Memorial, the Russell A. Alger Mansion] . Retrieved on November 24, 2007. ] Many noted architects designed works in Grosse Pointe including Albert Kahn, Marcel Breuer, Marcus Burrowes, Chittendon and Kotting, Crombie & Stanton, Wallace Frost, Robert O. Derrick, John M. Donaldson, Louis Kamper, August Gieger, William Kessler, Hugh T. Keyes, George D. Mason, Charles A. Platt, , Leonard Willeke, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Field, Hinchman, and Smith, William Buck Stratton, and Minoru Yamasaki.

Historic estates and famous residents

* Russell A. Alger Jr., - 32 Lakeshore Drive, the mansion is the Grosse Pointe War Memorial and open to the public.
* Standish Backus - Burroughs Adding Machine President.
* Joseph Berry - founder of Berry Varnish and Paint. Created the first Grosse Pointe year-round, lakeside residence in 1882.
*Ralph Harmon Booth - 315 Washington Road. President of Booth Newspapers, served as U.S. Minister to Denmark, Detroit Institute of Arts Philanthropist - brother of George G. Booth.
* Roy D. Chapin - 457 Lake Shore Drive, Hudson Motor Car Company founder, served as United States Secretary of Commerce.
* Emory W. Clark - 635 Lake Shore Drive.
* Henry Tiffany Cole - 394 Lakeland.
* Charles A. Dean - 221 Lewiston.
* John M. Dwyer - 370 Lakeland.
* Delphine Dodge
* Horace Dodge Jr.
* Anna Dodge (Mrs. Horace E. Dodge)- 12 Lake Shore. Rose Terrace Mansion was demolished in 1976.
* Horace Dodge - automotive pioneer.
* John Dodge - Automotive pioneer (80,000+ sq ft Home stood vacant for 20 years following his death).
* Matilda Dodge (Mrs. John F. Dodge)
* Berrien E. Eaton - 1018 Bishop, President of Rainbow Color & Paint Company.
* Clinton Goodloe Edgar - 880 Lake Shore Drive, managing partner of W. H. Edgar and Son and president of the Edgar Sugar House.
* Jeffrey Eugenides - Pulitzer Prize winning novelist.
* Edward Steptoe Evans - President of Detroit Aircraft and holder of 1926 around-the-world record of 28 days, 14 hours.
* W. Hawkins Ferry - 874 Lake Shore Drive.
* Edsel Ford and Eleanor Clay Ford - 1100 Lake Shore Drive, son of Henry Ford. Public tours.
* Henry Ford II - grandson of Henry Ford.
* Josephine Ford - granddaughter of Henry Ford.
* William Clay Ford - grandson of Henry Ford.
* William Clay Ford, Jr. - great grandson of Henry Ford.
* Alexander Grant - 18th century British Great Lakes Naval Commander
* Henry B. Joy - president, Packard Motor Car Company.
* Edie Kerouac-Parker- 1st wife of Jack Kerouac
* William Kessler - Architect.
* The Lardner family - (Lardner elevator company, Detroit Elevator Company)
* George Lothrop - lawyer, Attorney General of Michigan, and later U.S. Ambassador to Russia
* Kirk Maltby - forward for the Detroit Red Wings
* Alvan Macauley - 735 Lake Shore Drive. President, Packard Motor Company.
* Sidney Trowbridge Miller Jr. - 248 Provencal. Attorney, son of Sidney Davis Miller, founder of Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone, Detroit's largest law Firm.
* Roger Penske - founder of Penske Automotive Group.
* Gilbert B. Pingree - 270 Voltaire Place.
* William B. Stratton and Mary Stratton - 938 Three Mile Drive. Founded Pewabic Pottery Company.
* Charles M. Swift House - 17840 Jefferson Avenue. Purchased by Mrs. Horace E. Dodge in 1923 at a cost of around $650,000 for her son Horace dodge Jr. Mrs. Dodge lived next door. (Demolished 1985)
* G. Mennen Williams - Governor and Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.

ee also

*Edsel Ford
*Grosse Pointe Yacht Club
*Lake Saint Clair (North America)


References and further reading

*A&E with Richard Guy Wilson, Ph.D.,(2000). America's Castles: The Auto Baron Estates, "A&E Television Network".
*Cite book|author=Bridenstine, James|title=Edsel and Eleanor Ford House|year=1989|publisher=Wayne State University Press|id=ISBN 0814321615
*Cite book|author=Cantor, George|title=Detroit: An Insiders Guide to Michigan|year=2005|publisher=University of Michigan Press|id=ISBN 0472030922
*Cite book|author=Fisher, Dale|title=Building Michigan: A Tribute to Michigan's Construction Industry|year=2003|publisher=Grass Lake, MI: Eyry of the Eagle Publishing|id=ISBN 1891143247
*Cite book| author=Godzak, Roman|title= Archdiocese of Detroit (Images of America)|year=2000|publisher=Arcadia Publishing|id=ISBN 0738507972
*Cite book| author=Godzak, Roman|title= Catholic Churches of Detroit (Images of America)|year=2004|publisher=Arcadia Publishing|id=ISBN 0738532355
*Cite book| author=Godzak, Roman|title= Make Straight the Path: A 300 Year Pilgrimage Archdiocese of Detroit|year=2000|publisher=Editions du Signe|id=ISBN 2746801450
*Cite book | author=Hill, Eric J. and John Gallagher | title= AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture| year=2002 | publisher= Wayne State University Press | id=ISBN 0-8143-3120-3
*Cite book | author=Meyer, Katherine Mattingly and Martin C.P. McElroy with Introduction by W. Hawkins Ferry, Hon A.I.A.| title=Detroit Architecture A.I.A. Guide Revised Edition | year= 1980| publisher= Wayne State University Press| id = ISBN 0-8143-1651-4
*Cite book|author=Socia, Madeleine and Suzie Berschback |title=Grosse Pointe: 1890 - 1930 (Images of America)
year=2001|publisher=Arcadia|id=ISBN 0738508403

*Cite book| author=Woodford, Arthur M.|title=This is Detroit 1701–2001|publisher=Wayne State University Press| year=2001|id=ISBN 0-8143-2914-4
*Cite book| author=Tentler, Leslie Woodcock with forward by Edmund Cardinal Szoka
title= Seasons of Grace: A History of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit|year=1992|publisher=Wayne State University Press|id=ISBN 0814321062

*Cite book|author=Tutag, Nola Huse with Lucy Hamilton|title=Discovering Stained Glass in Detroit|publisher=Wayne State University Press|year=1988|id=ISBN 0-8143-1875-4

External links

* [ Edsel & Eleanor Ford House]
* [ Grosse Pointe Historical Society]
* [ Grosse Pointe Public School System]
* [ University Liggett School]
* [ Grosse Pointe Public Library]
* [ "Grosse Pointe News" - weekly newspaper]
* [ Grosse Pointe War Memorial] (Russell Alger Mansion)
* [ The Village, Downtown Grosse Pointe - shopping district]

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