DETROIT: Indian Village Home Tour

3 Jul

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Have you ever driven down a beautiful tree-lined street with beautiful, elegant, amazing, grand historic homes residing on each side? And, have you ever wished you could  go inside; you know, just take a look, see if the interior lives up to the exterior? Well, for the last 39 years the residents of Indian Village have been providing people with that opportunity at the annual Historic Indian Village Home & Garden Tour. That’s right, for the price of a ticket you can wander along Burns, Iroquois and Seminole from E. Jefferson to Mack and see where some of Detroit’s most affluent residents once lived. Some of the better known names: Arthur Buhl, Bernard Stroh, J Burgess Book and Detroit sculptor Julius Melchers. The auto industry provided many with luxurious lifestyles; Edsel B Ford, Henry Leland (founder of Lincoln and Cadillac), George Holley (Holley Carburetor)  and autobaron Robert Hupp (Huppmobile) to name a few. This was where the rich built their homes; doctors, lawyers and executives. For the more egotistical residents, if a home larger than their own was built, they simply built another with more square footage. Having said that, the largest home in the neighborhood is 15,000 sq ft and was built by Bingley Fales; a lawyer and assistant general manager of the Edison Illuminating Company. Homes were built between 1895 and the late 20’s in a variety of architectural styles; Arts and Crafts, Tudor Revival, Georgian and Romanesque are a few. If you had enough cash anything was possible; elevators, pewabic tile floors, fireplace surrounds and fountains. Many are adorned with intricate carved wood moldings, third-floor ballrooms, and elaborate chandeliers. Servants quarters and carriage houses were not uncommon.

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We began our tour at the Jefferson Ave. Presbyterian Church on the corner of E. Jefferson and Burns; built in 1926 and Gothic in style, this place is fabulous! Inside the church itself  hardwood floors gleam, ornate  light fixtures dangle from long chains attached to the vaulted ceiling, the altarpiece is carved wood, above it organ pipes rise upwards, sunlight makes the stained glass windows glow. They don’t make them like this anymore…. Outside we began our tour of the homes and gardens; Indian Village is made up of 352 homes, 4 churches and 2 elementary schools; 10 structures and several gardens were on the tour. Residents were not the only “names” associated with the neighborhood, architects were also well-known; C Howard Crane (Fox Theatre), Smith, Hinchman & Grylls (Guardian Building), Louis Kamper, Albert Kahn, and William B Stratton (who married Mary Chase Perry, founder of Pewabic Pottery). The lines to go inside were not long, we started out on Iroquois with the home featured on the cover of this years program; The Austin Elbert Morey House designed by Louis Kamper. WOW! That was my first impression, and my lasting impression. Dark wood planks make up the floor and stairs, it is also carved into columns, archways, a stunning banister and railing that leads to an incredible balcony that over looks the first floor. Oh how I wish I had photos I could share with you, unfortunately this is the only home tour I have ever been on that did not allow photos to be taken. The plaster work in the home is exquisite, original silk wall-coverings remain, it is truly a treasure. Up and down Iroquois we went, taking in beautiful gardens, a Colonial Revival and a couple of English Arts and Crafts homes, all are lovingly cared for. We continued meandering the streets; many homes are brick with stone details, they have stained or beveled glass windows, fancy chimneys and turrets. Window boxes, urns and landscapes overflow with annuals in full bloom, children are selling lemonade, bottles of cold water and cookies. We saw carriage houses, churches, schools, the homes of Albert Kahn, Louis Kamper and an art lot. This area is more than just a neighborhood, it is a community. Together they celebrate the rich history of their homes and Detroit’s glorious past.

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With another pleasant summer day on hand we decided to eat lunch outdoors at La Petit Zinc on the corner of Trumbull and Howard. The plain exterior doesn’t give a clue to what you will find inside; a charming courtyard complete with a fountain, umbrella covered tables, and gardens. Inside walls are brightly colored and vibrant artwork hangs. The restaurant is fashioned after a French cafe, the owner was born and raised in France, the name La Petit Zinc is French slang for a local bar. The menu is made up of French cafe staples; sweet and savory crepes, sandwiches served on freshly baked baguette, meat and cheese plates and salads. Also available are coffee, tea and espresso drinks. Sometimes simple things are the tastiest; this is true for the lemon and sugar crepe. Along with that we  the special of the day; a savory crepe with ham and brie. With a generous amount of filling the crepe is light and tender, the cheese melted and gooey. A small green salad came with the savory crepe; organic mixed greens and sliced tomato tossed in the house dressing, making a nice combination of flavors. A little off the beaten path, once you eat here you’ll want to come back.

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