Tag Archives: indian village

DETROIT: I Got Rhythm….

13 May

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It’s 2:00 on a Sunday, with no reason to rush out the door we’ve slept in late and are now in search of food. Why is it anything with eggs or maple syrup tastes even better after noon?  Craft Work in West Village is said to have a great brunch, we’re here to check it out. Located on the ground floor of the Parkstone Apartments, the restaurant is integrated into the neighborhood perfectly. That’s one of the things Kris and I really like about this area; restaurants, cafes and shops are intermixed with single family homes and apartments making it very walkable. Mature trees, gorgeous architecture and well-kept homes create a charming district.

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Housed in a space that was originally a pharmacy, then occupied by the Harlequin Cafe, Craft Work has kept the old-world charm alive and well. Dining room tables are full when we arrive, there’s plenty of room at the community tables in the bar area. Everything on the menu sounds appealing; we choose one sweet and one savory dish to split. Before long, large plates piled high with breakfast foods arrive at the table. Lets start with the savory; tender bacon fat biscuits are literally smothered with house made sausage gravy nicely seasoned with tender chunks of sausage. Next to the biscuits are two perfectly fried eggs; I put mine on top of the biscuit, eggs Benedict style. Cutting into it, golden liquid yolk drips down the biscuit and combines with the gravy, delicious! Golden french toast made from eggy, tender, slightly sweet challah is stacked high, pats of butter melt slowly and eventually slip down the stack, a cup of syrup shares the plate, Kris is in his glory, it’s exceptional.

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Now for the entertainment portion of the day. Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church (JAPC) is hosting “A Gershwin Rendezvous” as part of their free concert series. The building itself is stunning, designed by architect Wirt C Roland (Guardian Building) in the English Gothic style, it was completed in 1926. The interior is a medley of wood carvings, plaster castings, stained glass windows and stone carvings. The Sanctuary itself is elegant, understated, with colorful stained glass windows, simple chandeliers and stepped buttresses. The Skinner pipe organ is one of only three, large, four-manual instruments that remain in their original form.

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We park in the lot behind the church and follow the other attendees inside. Wooden chairs have been set up in rows facing the black piano, volunteers are busy setting up refreshments to be served at the conclusion of the performance. After placing our jackets on the back of our chairs, we have a look around. There are several lovely rooms in the Parish House; stone fireplaces, leaded glass windows and decorative plaster adorns each of them. The church has a very welcoming feel to it, members are friendly and chat eagerly. Though this is not my neighborhood or my church, I feel a part of the community gathered here today.

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Back in Dodge Hall we take our seats as the concert is about to begin. Penny Masouris will be performing many Gershwin favorites today; pianist and vocalist, she will also weave in a bit of Gershwin history and stories between songs. A number of reproduction paintings rest on easels, our hostess introduces each of George’s paintings and tells us a little about them. She’s a wonderful lecturer and fascinating to listen to. It’s evident she has studied the composer and pianists life and career extensively. Taking her seat at the piano she kicks off the afternoon with Gershwin’s first big hit (1919) Swanee. Penny shares stories of George and Ira’s early days in New York, how George became the composer and Ira the lyricist, then she plays and sings some more.

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We are sitting in the back row with the vantage point of being able to see the physical reactions audience members have to songs like “Someone to Watch Over Me”, “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off”. Some close their eyes and sway, others mouth the lyrics. Once in a while there is a joyful gasp, a body sitting  a little straighter in the chair, a tapping foot. Music has that effect on people. “Rhapsody in Blue” is probably the piece of music most associated with Gershwin, it’s hard to believe it came out in 1924, it’s magnificent. George wrote pieces for stage and screen, American in Paris (1928), Porgy and Bess (1935) along with Jazz, opera and popular music. George Gershwin died when he was only 38 years old during surgery to remove a brain tumor. His career was short but brilliant, filling the pages of the American songbook.

Time has passed quickly, the concert comes to an end. Enthusiastic applause shows our appreciation for the performer.   The concert series continues through June with performances on Sunday afternoons at 4:30 pm. Be sure to check out the website for all the musical programs at JAPC. It has been a wonderful afternoon, Detroit-style, I can hardly wait for next weekend!

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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