GPHS Moorings Newsletters - page 155

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The following three buildings were given a bronze marker by the Grosse Pointe
Historical Society at their annual meeting to designate their historical significance
to the community. The selection committee is chaired by Peggy Woodhouse.
Backman House
1894 Grocery Store and Home
194 Moross Road
This property had a very early beginning. In 1778 it was
described as “Land on the west side of Lake St. Clair, con-
taining 3 acres in front and 40 acres in depth. This was the
land that would become the estate of Magloire Morass in 1850 and later part of
the Charles G. Moran Subdivision in 1874.” In August 1892, Lot #22 was sold to
Matthys Lodewyk and a year later, after his death, the lot was purchased by
Charles L. and Kate Backman for $410.00.
In 1894 the building contained the Backman Grocery Store which sold produce
and penny candy treats. Children’s shoes were another standard item. The
Backman store delivered in those days and the horse and wagon were housed in an old barn behind the store. In front
were displays of fresh fruits and vegetables. Behind the store the living quarters had 8 bedrooms and 1 and 1/2 baths for
the Backman family. Upon Backman’s death in 1938, Lot #22 was passed on to his eldest son, Linus Backman (Uncle
Len) in 1939. He and his sister, Mrs. John Kerby, lived there with nothing to show that their home was once a popular
country store. Uncle Len continued to live at 194 Moross until his death in 1966.
Charles and Ingrid Koebel House
Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Architects, completed 1940
203 Cloverly Road, Grosse Pointe Farms
In 1937, Charles and Ingrid Koebel retained the architectural firm of
Eliel and Eero Saarinen to design and build a residence in Grosse Pointe
Farms. The project was the first commission of Eliel and Eero. In many
aspects of the design, indeed, in many respects the house mirrors the
Saarinen House at Cranbrook, Bloomfield Hills. Robert F. Swanson, who
associated with his father-in-law and brother-in-law prepared final plans
for the house in October 1939. Pipsan Saarinen Swanson was retained as
Interior Designer. Other members of the Saarinen family provided additional design elements, including custom-woven
textiles and art objects. The house features custom designed interiors, lighting, hardware, furnishings and finishes.
The Saarinen design of the house contains repeated use of circles inscribed in rectangles, and reflects the architects’
integration of interior and exterior environments, hand-made and machine-made elements, and of architecture, sculp-
ture, art, interior design and fine craftsmanship.
The two-story, five-bedroom flat roofed structure contains 5600 sq ft of living space. It is one of only two single family
homes in the US, outside of Cranbrook, that was jointly designed by Eliel and Eero Saarinen. Three of the original “sig-
nature” Saarinen gates are located on the property.
William A. McGraw House
1884 Queen Anne Cottage
Redesigned 1927 by Robert O. Derrick
71 Lake Shore Road
The pretty Queen Anne cottage designed for William A. McGraw was
located at Lake Shore Road and Lakecrest. The property embraced
about 10 acres and was known as “The Poplars” because of a row of
Lombardy Poplars, and an Osage orange hedge that defined the front of
the property. It was a ribbon farm that extended from Lake St. Clair to
Grosse Pointe Blvd. The interior of the residence was a model of con-
venience, and its general finish and tasteful appointments were admired by all. An attractive feature of the grounds
of Mr. McGraw and his neighbor Mr. Dyer was the little park in front, extending to the lake. McGraw was the son of
A.C. McGraw whose firm A.C. McGraw & Co. was one of the oldest and most successful mercantile firms in Detroit. He
married Harriet A. Robinson, a niece of John S. Newberry.
In 1927, there was extensive remodeling done to the façade for Percival Dodge, by Robert O. Derrick. At that time, the
property consisted of 3 acres. It is a 14 room, two-story, gracious home with outstanding features, quality and architec-
tural details rarely found today. It has 7 natural fireplaces, historic gardens, high ceilings and a carriage house.
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