Special Walking Tour for the Drunken Detroit Historical Society
Brush Park’s Grand Dames of Detroit’s Gilded Age
Saturday, April 13, 10 AM and 2 PM
Meet in front of the Ransom Gillis House, 205 Alfred Street
Street parking available on Alfred Street
$20 (tour proceeds for graffiti removal and neighborhood clean-up)
Please note in the comments if you are going at 10am or 2pm. Thanks. We appreciate your prepayment for the tour, if possible. The payment link is:https://ipn.intuit.com/pay/PreservationDetroit
You can select the "Make payment without creating an account" option for convenience. Please note DDHS in the Invoice box.
If you don't want to prepay for the tour, please arrive 15 minutes early to allow time for payment.
The Brush Park Preservation Society, led by Joe Grove, a guy too young to legally drink, has been painstakingly tending to Brush Park’s vacant 19th century grand dames for two years. He and a small crew of volunteers have been picking up trash, pestering the city about keeping the homes securely boarded, cutting grass, and getting rid of graffiti. His primary focus has been on a section of homes and lots on Alfred Street between John R and Brush, including vacant land through the city’s Adopt-a-lot program. The Society’s Facebook page has albums full of photos new and old, and snippets of stories about past and present residents. The goal is to keep these homes from suffering further indignities, make the area safer for residents, and more appealing to those with the big dreams needed to rehabilitate them. Sometime between Christmas and New Year’s, the neighborhood was hit by taggers, discouraging but not unusual. On March 23, Joe will make lemonade from lemons yet again, and lead walking tours of the neighborhood, with the proceeds going directly to the supplies needed for removing the graffiti safely from the century-old brick, and other spring cleaning essentials.
Joe knows the story of every house still standing and will be talking about some of the more significant houses in the neighborhood, such as Albert Kahn’s personal residence, the Ransom Gillis home, and several “new” preservation efforts going on in the neighborhood. Brush Park has a 24-block area designated by the City of Detroit as a local historic district, and is also included in the Woodward East Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the State of Michigan Register of Historic Sites.
The potential of Brush Park as a unique community within the city, with its remnants of Gilded Age and Victorian mansions, has been recognized for years, but redevelopment of the area has never quite reached a critical tipping point. With Dan Gilbert’s “Webward” pushing further north, and the juggernaut of Midtown rolling southward, Brush Park’s time may finally have arrived. It seems obvious that it will be the scene of battles over saving versus flattening its faded and lonely sentinels. What shape will that redevelopment take? How can its historic character and remaining buildings be included in the fabric of redevelopment so that the streetscape doesn’t end up looking like a generic condo development anywhere in any suburb in America? The Brush Park Citizen’s District Council, founded in 1979, is exploring options for the redevelopment of the neighborhood, with an emphasis on community assets and determining what residents would like to see in the area.