GPHS Moorings Newsletters - page 166

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Puttin’ on the Glitz
continued from front page
Pictures of the Dodge family and friends dressed up as
pirates, clowns, and exotic dancers for an elaborate cos-
tume party and a copy of the invitation to Charlotte Ford’s
debutante ball (which featured Nat “King” Cole as the
entertainer) are some of the interesting and little-seen
items featured on the exhibit.
“There’s never been a collection of photos and articles
recounting the family lives of these Grosse Pointers avail-
able like this before, especially of the Dodge family,” said
GPHS curator Suzy Berschback. “With an on-line exhibit
like this, it’s so easy for anyone to look at these artifacts
and see a special slice of Grosse Pointe life.”
In the 1920s, the rapidly expanding automobile industry
was creating vast new fortunes and greatly enlarging old
ones thanks to huge pre-income tax profits. The hub of
the industry was in Detroit and many of the auto barons
settled in Grosse Pointe on the shores of Lake St. Clair. In
addition to the beautiful lakeside vistas, prohibition (75%
of all illegal liquor entered the U.S through this area at the
time), and flourishing club, sporting and social scenes all
made Grosse Pointe the place to be!
Already by the 1910s, a second generation of Grosse
Pointe summer people including auto executives Henry B.
Joy, John and Horace Dodge, Harry Jewett and Russell
Alger, Jr. began replacing the charming Victorian cottages
and old farmhouses with eclectic mansions designed by
nationally known architects including Detroiter Albert
Kahn and New Yorker Charles Adams Platt. Impressive
Tudor and neoclassical homes preceded by more than a
decade the Cotswold manor of auto baron Edsel Ford. In
the late 1920s, new mansions, like those of Packard’s
Alvan Macauley and Hudson Motors’ Roy Chapin, looked
out across broad, manicured lawns toward the lake. Even
in the difficult early 1930s, Mrs. Hugh Dillman, formerly
Mrs. Horace Dodge, added yet another palatial Lake Shore
residence in Grosse Pointe Farms, Rose Terrace. Learn
more about this special chapter of Grosse Pointe history
by viewing the slide shows on line.
This exhibit was made possible by a grant from the
MotorCities National Heritage Area and the MotorCities
Mini-Grants Program.
Historic Plaques
Since 1986, the Society has been annually awarding historic plaques to Grosse Pointe landmarks to recognize their
historical or architectural value to the community, to encourage their continued preservation, and to recognize the
value of adaptive reuse.
The bronze plaques bear the image of the Society's logo, a French windmill that stood on the shores of Lake St. Clair in
the 1700s. They are 8 inches in diameter and weigh five pounds.
The sites are evaluated using the following critera:
1. Significance in Grosse Pointe history
Is the property associated with events that made a significant contribution
to our history?
Is the property associated with the lives of persons significant to our past?
2. Significance of the architect and architecture
Does the property possess high artistic value?
Does it represent the work of the architect?
Does the property embody distinctive characteristics of a period or a type
of construction?
3. Significance of the historical information yielded from the property
The property should be over 50 years old
If you would like to submit a property for consideration for a Grosse Pointe Historical Society plaque, please mail a
one-page background information sheet describing the property along with a current photo and a contact name, address
and phone number to us at:
GPHS Resource Center
381 Kercheval Avenue - Suite 2
Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236-3085
Charlotte Ford’s Debutante Ball
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