15840 Lakeview Court
January 22, 2019
Posted by Darby Moran on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019 at 8:26am.
Last week we introduced you to the homes designed and/or built by Carl L. Meek, a known architect (and builder) in Grosse Pointe during the late 1920’s.
This week we would like to present 15840 Lakeview Court. This sensational home was built in 1931 by one of Detroit’s architectural superstars, George D. Mason for Albert H. Schmidt.
As renowned Detroit historian Clarence M. Burton once wrote, quite simply George DeWitt Mason was “the dean of Detroit architects”. In a city that boasts the sublime skills of Albert Kahn, and Louis Kamper, Mason takes his place alongside these two great designers as the men responsible for many of Detroit’s iconic buildings. During a career that lasted 50 years George D. Mason created numerous historic buildings in and around the city, including around twelve homes in Grosse Pointe.
He first appeared in the community in 1882. The firm of Mason & Rice was commissioned to design ‘Edgmere’ for Joseph Berry, one of the first year-round homes in the community (located at 50 Lake Shore Drive – now demolished). At the time the predominant style of the firm was heavily influenced by “Richardson Romanesque” – a style that was characterized by low-slung arched entrances, dark masonry and detailed brickwork. This approach was immensely popular though relatively short-lived.
In 1916, Mason, now working for himself, continued to work in Grosse Pointe where he would create a series of superb homes. Over the next 21 years he designed around ten splendid residences in the community, many of which have a very distinctive style, including:
- 1040 Harvard (1916)
- 1 Donavan Place (1917)
- 33 Oldbrook Lane (1920)
- 784 Berkshire (1925)
- 1175 Three Mile Drive (1925)
- 315 Lakeland (1929)
- 109 Kenwood (1929)
- 66 Sunnindale (1937)
15840 Lakeview Court was one of the latter homes to be designed by Mason. It was completed in 1931. In keeping with many of his other projects it was a generously sized home. The 7,794 sq ft residence is located on a large 175’ x 418’ sq ft lot on the shores of Lake St. Clair. It was created in the English architectural style, constructed from brick with a superb use of limestone on the first floor, and around the windows. The image below is a preliminary sketch (dated 1930) of what the home was going to look like. As you will see (from the second image) several significant alterations to the design of the front elevation were made by the time of completion. Images are courtesy of: detroitpubliclibrary.org.
The house was filled with an abundance of light courtesy of the large screened porch and bay windows, on the rear elevation, that overlook the lake. The large 36’ x 20’ sq ft living room has an adjoining 36’ ft long screened in porch. The 22’ x 16’ sq ft dining room also looks onto the lake, as does the 19’ x 20’ sq ft library. The first floor also contains an office, kitchen and a 14’ x 14’ sq ft card room. The second floor features a sitting room, five large bedrooms, and an elevator to the first floor. The floor also includes a separate section, located above the garage, for maids, which consists of a sitting room, four additional bedrooms, and stairs to a separate entrance. Image of the house is courtesy of the Grosse Pointe Historical Society.
Albert H. Schmidt commissioned the property. He was born in Detroit, in 1873, to Traugott Schmidt who was one of the leading tanners in the Midwest. After graduating from high school Albert began work at his father’s tannery. After his father’s death, in 1897, Albert and his brother Edward took over the business with Albert becoming treasurer and general manager. Under their guidance the company became one of the largest tannery’s, under one roof, in the country. Additional branches opened in Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and New York City. Products were sent around the world, and the business continued to grow. Source: The City of Detroit, Michigan, 1701-1922, Volume 4. Albert’s brother Edward also resided in Grosse Pointe, at 16960 E. Jefferson, as did their older brother, Carl E. Schmidt, who lived at 301 Lakeshore - built in 1904, the house is one of the oldest remaining properties in the Grosse Pointes to have a view of the lake. Source: Wikipedia.
The Schmidt family sold 15840 Lakeview Court in 1952. It remains an iconic structure, created by one of the finest architects of his generation and a master of his profession.
*Photos courtesy of the Higbie Maxon Agney archives unless stated.
Written by Katie Doelle
Copyright © 2019 Higbie Maxon Agney & Katie Doelle