June 19, 2018
Posted by Darby Moran on Tuesday, June 12th, 2018 at 11:18am.
Last week we profiled 21 Colonial Rd, the magnificent former home of nationally recognized architectural sculptor Corrado Parducci. This week we head to Grosse Pointe Farms, and to one of the earliest homes built on Merriweather, number 175.
Merriweather was originally part of a large cherry orchard. It wasn’t until the late 1920’s that houses first began to appear on the plot of land.
Number 175 was one of the earlier homes to be constructed. Designed by acclaimed architect Louis Kamper, it was completed in 1929 as a wedding present, from Kamper and Kurt Kling, to the newly married couple of John Robert Sutton, Jr. (Jack), and his wife Paula Kling Sutton (Kamper’s niece, and Kurt Kling’s daughter).
Louis Kamper, could be described as one of the most impactful designers to have ever graced Detroit. His style, influence and work were on par with Albert Kahn, and George D. Mason in terms of the architectural legacy that many of his projects have left on the city, and the United States.
Kamper was no stranger to working on grand projects. Having designed many significant buildings in Detroit, including the Book Building (1917), Book Tower (1926), and the Book-Cadillac Hotel (1923), he created a multitude of impactful homes - at least seven are in Grosse Pointe. These included: 1 Rathbone Place (1918) 16761 East Jefferson (1917), 251 Lincoln (1917), 836 Edgemont Park (1918), 15440 Windmill Pointe (1921), and 1008 Buckingham (1922). All of these homes were between 4,000 sq ft – 10,000 sq ft in size, and could certainly be described as ‘grand affairs’.
His architectural styles varied a great deal, ranging from classic English Tudor style, Italian Renaissance, Romanesque Revival, and French Châteaux. During the early stages of his career Kamper, travelled extensively in Europe. This level of study and research clearly had an influence on much of his work – commercial and residential. You can read the full story of Louis Kamper by clicking here.
175 Merriweather, completed in 1931, was quite different from his earlier projects. At 3,774 sq ft it is Kamper’s smallest family residence in Grosse Pointe. Designed in the Colonial approach it is a wonderfully formed symmetrical brick home in keeping with many homes that were being built in the Grosse Pointe communities during this era. It was completed when large homes were becoming less popular and the architectural style of Grosse Pointe was undergoing significant change – in terms of the diversity of architectural styles that were on display.
With its perfectly formed exterior, the interior included many sublime details. The large entrance hall (24’ x 9’ sq ft) featured black and white Pewabic tiles on the floor. The 11’ x 17 sq ft library had a white oak pegged floor, while the floor in the 10’ x 17’ sq ft garden room contained heated slate flooring. Upstairs there are six bedrooms, and a master bath decorated with pink, blue and black Pewabic tiles. Source: Grosse Pointe Historical Society.
The homes new occupants, John Robert Sutton, Jr. (Jack), and his wife Paula Kling Sutton, were extremely active in the local community. Mr. Sutton served as a Village Trustee (in Grosse Pointe Farms) between 1934-46, and Fire Commissioner between 1938-46. He was vice president of General Underwriters Insurance, specializing in marine insurance. Mr. Sutton was also a commodore of the Grosse Ponte Yacht Club, and served as a Deputy Chief Air Raid Warden during World War II. His wife, Paula Kling Sutton, was equally involved in community organizations, including the Neighborhood Club Thrift Shop, Women’s Exchange of Detroit, and the Red Cross. She was also active during the war, regularly holding meetings and classes at her home (on behalf of the Red Cross) to teach bandaging techniques. Source: Grosse Pointe Historical Society.
Louis Kamper enjoyed a long and distinguished career, and is credited with designing over 100 commercial and residential structures in and around Detroit. He died in 1953. As one of Detroit’s premier architects, he helped change the architectural scene in Detroit forever along with leaving behind some rather special gems in Grosse Pointe for us to enjoy.
*Images courtesy of: HMA Archives. Image of Louise Kamper courtesy of Wikipedia.
Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2018 Higbie Maxon Agney & Katie Doelle
If you have a home, building or street you would like us to profile please contact Darby Moran – Darby@higbiemaxon.com - we will try and feature the property.
(For more historical information on Grosse Pointe, visit Grosse Pointe Historical Society).