The Work of Clarence E. Day
August 21, 2018
Posted by Darby Moran on Tuesday, August 21st, 2018 at 8:43am.
Last week we presented the former home of William Ledyard Mitchell Jr. – 61 Kenwood Road - designed by the firm of Weston and Ellington.
One of the designers, Harold Ellington, later in his career (1932), formed a partnership with noted architect Alvin Harley to form Harley and Ellington. In 1943 the firm welcomed the talented designer Clarence E. Day as a partner. Clarence Day was a particularly active and successful designer in his own right, and so this week we would like to focus on his work, and several of the homes he created in Grosse Pointe.
Clarence Day was born in Detroit in 1886. In 1905, having graduated, he worked as an apprentice with several architectural firms in the city, which he would continue to do until 1914. In 1915 he opened his own practice. He tended to specialize in creating eclectic revival homes primarily in and around southeastern Michigan for Detroit’s social elite. During this era Day is credited with creating a number of impressive homes in Metro Detroit. Arguably one of his most prestigious projects was the Tudor inspired home he designed for pioneer aviator and the publisher of The Detroit News – William E. Scripps. Located in Lake Orion, Michigan, the home, known as “Moulton Manor” was completed in 1927. It is reported the 67-room summer home, set on a 3,800-acre estate, cost $2.8 million to build (around $40m today). Source: guesthouse.org. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
During the 1920’s Clarence Day was in high demand, however during the depression his business suffered and he was forced to close his firm in 1935. Working from his home (2235 Edison St, Detroit) he turned his attention back to large-scale residential projects. After re-opening his practice, in 1937, Day continued to work on many prestigious residences. During this time he also became associated with Harley and Ellington and worked with them on some of their commissions. In 1943 the two firms merged to form Harley, Ellington, and Day, where he would remain a partner until 1959.
Here in Grosse Pointe Clarence Day, between 1921 and 1939, created around 10 homes. Throughout his career Day had worked across numerous architectural styles, however, many of the homes he created in Grosse Pointe appear to be in the Tudor approach, and include the following residences:
969 Balfour was Day’s earliest project in the community. It is a splendid 3,600 sq ft colonial inspired home with a rather striking entrance, that was typical of this era and architectural style.
829 Balfour was Day’s second home on this distinguished street, created in a Tudor architectural approach. It is a 4,600 sq ft home, and features a two-story vaulted ceiling in the living room, a large 24’ x 11’ sq ft entrance, oak beams, and wood paneling throughout.
154 Cloverly is an English 5,350 sq ft inspired home. Day designed at least five homes on this noted street in Grosse Pointe Farms. Image courtesy of google.com
54 Cloverly is a classically designed 4,226 sq ft Tudor brick home. Tudor homes were at the height of popularity in around the Grosse Pointe communities during this era, and Day’s creations are arguably some of the finest examples of this style found in the area. Image courtesy of google.com
1018 Three Mile is a grand Tudor style home, created for W. D, McClintock. A recipient of a Bronze Historic Plaque from the Grosse Pointe Historical Society this 7,008 sq ft house features intricate carved wood, a hand painted sculptured plaster ceiling in the living room and dining room, along with Pewabic tile throughout.
118 Cloverly is a beautiful stone home, in the Tudor approach. At 6,908 sq ft it is one of the larger residences Day created in the Grosse Pointes.
861 Whittier is a further great example of Day’s skill in the Tudor approach.
When Day created 906 Three Mile he opted for a colonial style for this 5,800 sq ft home. The design was particularly popular during this era, and is close to the Regency style homes Hugh T. Keyes was creating during the 1930’s. Constructed from white brick it has a distinctive symmetrical façade, large rectangular chimneys, and a hipped roof.
219 Cloverly is a striking 4,370 sq ft brick and stone Tudor home with a striking dominant chimney on the front elevation. Image courtesy of luxuryrealestate.com
215 Cloverly, is similar in its design to its close neighbor. The impactful gables on the front elevation are the main feature on this 5,924 sq ft home. Image courtesy of google.com
830 Park Lane is created in a similar vein to 906 Three mile. It has all the wonderful hallmarks of a Regency home - a style that was quickly gaining popularity during the late 1930’s throughout Grosse Pointe. At 2,847 sq ft, it is one of Day’s smaller creations in the community.
Clarence E. Day died in 1968. He was a wonderfully talented designer who worked on many prominent buildings and residences around Metro Detroit throughout his career. The homes he created in Grosse Pointe have left us with some superb examples of Tudor revival architecture that was so prevalent in the community during the late 1920’s.
*Photos courtesy of the Higbie Maxon Agney archives unless stated.
Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2018 Higbie Maxon Agney & Katie Doelle