Charles Chauvin, Sr. built this brick foursquare home on Michigan Ave. around 1915. It was later moved to Charles Street, where it stands today.
His ancestor, Francois Chauvin, arrived in the area in 1636. Chauvin was sent by the French government to survey the ‘New World.’ He became close to the Potawatomi Indians who helped him portage around the Niagara Falls to the Detroit River and on to the Rouge River. He decided it would be a good place to live.
A later Chauvin descendent purchased a ‘ribbon farm’ stretching from the Rouge River to Michigan Avenue, in 1795. The parcel once included 196 acres. The Chauvin family maintained the property through the French, British, and American Colonial periods until it became part of Springwells Township.
Starting in 1923, the home became a showroom for Robert Ford’s fledgling dealership. A 1931 ad remembers, “we used the living room of the home as an office, and the front lawn as a showroom. The service department… was located in a barn at the rear.” Eventually, Ford’s dealership grew and became Fairlane Ford, now Mission Ford. The home was moved to Charles Street around 1929.
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One of the homes featured in the newly published book, "Stories from the Sidewalk," this beautiful Colonial Revival home in Dearborn's historic Arsenal and Riverbend neighborhood has proudly crowned the hill at Military and Alexandrine for over a century!
The current owners trace their lineage back to distant cousins and original owners James and Bess Guinan. James was a notable realtor, developer, and home builder in 1920’s Dearborn. He was also one-time Village President and Postmaster. James’s wife, Bess, was an active socialite, and a “gracious hostess” who even hosted tea parties at the Dearborn Country Club attended by Clara Ford.
As co-developer of Law’s Subdivision, Guinan had first pick of choice lots for building this new home. The brick sentinel he erected atop this majestic hill was completed in 1917. It was designed by Architect John Kasurin and assembled by local builder Frank Henry.
An August 10th Dearborn Independent article from the time even noted that the Guinans moved in when the “roof was not yet on,” lamenting that “Sunday’s flood must have been very uncomfortable."
James died in 1944, but Bess was joined by her sister Elsie Hupp and niece Rosevear Bloom in 1962. Elsie was the widow of Robert Craig Hupp, co-founder of the Hupp Motor Car Company and creator of the Hupmobile. Elsie lived here until 1975, and Bess, until her death in 1977.
by Ian Tomashik, research by Christopher Merlo and L. Glenn O’Kray
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This amazing building on Warren, near Shatila Bakery, is a remarkable design by Albert Kahn and was once called "one of the largest and finest furniture warehouses in America".
It was erected in 1929 by the People’s Outfitting Company between Maple and Williamson Avenues. Kahn was quoted as proudly saying: “This structure incorporates practically every ultra-modern feature of warehouse design. It fronts 321 feet on Warren Avenue and extends 600 feet south along the railroad. By using a decorative face brick front, with shops along the entire Warren Avenue frontage, it has been possible to develop a beautiful exterior that will be a distinct credit to the community.”
The People's Outfitting Company was founded in 1893 in Detroit. The store's motto was: 'It's easy to pay - the People's way!' and allowed shoppers to buy everything from cameras to jewelry to furniture on no-interest credit. It featured a showroom and store on its ground floor and would have been the Aviation Subdivision's premier retailer.
The Dearborn warehouse became a J.L. Hudson’s distribution center. In 1995, the Hollingsworth Logistics Management Company bought the building which stands today as a testament to Kahn’s genius and creativity in industrial design.
📸 by Paolo Mastrogiacomo, research by Mariya Fogarasi Visit Preservation Dearborn on Facebook or Instagram for all our features on historic homes and buildings!
The Henry Ford II World Center opened in 1956.
Often referred to as “The Glass House” for its glass facade, it was designed by Gordon Bunshaft and Natalie de Blois of Skidmore Owings and Merrill in the International Style. It consists of a 12- story glass tower with a 3 story “slab” behind it.
Light was the defining feature of the 12-story tower designed by Bunshaft. To this end, the facade design called for alternating rows of tinted heat absorbing glass in aluminum frames and bands of porcelain-glazed steel panels. In total, approximately five acres of glass wrap the building which allowed natural light to flood into the interior.
The structural design of the building also allows natural light to flood into the interior. Structural columns were pushed to the exterior of the facade and into the core, creating wide open floor plates. This allowed for highly flexible work spaces partitioned by glass and wood panels. Light was further diffused with the use of fiberglass curtains and luminous ceiling tiles.
The three-story slab in the rear of the building was designed by Natalie de Blois, at a time when it was very rare to have a woman in such a position in an architecture firm. The slab consisted of a diverse mix of programming, including dining rooms, a cafeteria, sandwich shops, a barber shop, photographic studios and a parking deck for 1500 cars.
and research by Paolo Mastrogiacomo Visit Preservation Dearborn on Facebook or Instagram for all our features on historic homes and buildings!
“The Castle,” in the Aviation subdivision, was built in 1928. It’s rumored that the builder “met an untimely death” and never lived here. The home's first residents were Walter and Agatha Swiacki. Their son later said the home was used as part of a scheme to illegally import rum from Canada during Prohibition. The Swiacki's divorced, and Walter lived alone in the house. Local lore has it that baseball legend and Tigers manager “Micky” Cochrane once rented here. Meanwhile, Walter and Agatha’s only shared son, Gerald, built a successful life for himself. He married Navy inspector Helen Chlosta in 1942, and eventually became a physician. By 1955, Dr. and Mrs. Swiacki had returned to The Castle. They lived here until 1977.
📸 by Paolo Mastrogiacomo, research by Ian Tomashik Visit Preservation Dearborn on Facebook or Instagram for all our features on historic homes and buildings!
Built for James Edward Greene, this one-and-a-half story house on Alexandrine originally was a wood-framed Craftsman home. In the fall of 1928, a sulfur well in ‘the flats’ (the Rouge River floodplain across the street) developed a crack in its cap. When workers removed the cap to repair it, significant concentrations of hydrogen sulfide vapor discolored area homes, turning them black and grey. Shortly afterward, the Greene house was refaced with brick and expanded in all directions. Additions included a compound-gabled Tudor-style front, a side gabled dormer, and an archway on the left side. 📸 by Alan Balaka, research by Karen Milligan & Christopher Merlo. Visit Preservation Dearborn on Facebook or Instagram for all our features on historic homes and buildings!
This brick Colonial is the former residence of Henry Ford’s sister, Margaret Ford Ruddiman. Many components of the structure originally comprised the Ruddiman farmstead, a large brick farmhouse located near Southfield Road and Warren Ave. Due to the widening of Southfield, the house was dismantled, and parts of it were reused on River Lane under the supervision of Edward Cutler, architect in charge of building restorations at Greenfield Village. Items reused from the original house included the original walnut banister, hand-hewn fireplace mantle, and a great number of bricks. 📸 by Alan Balaka, Research by Ian Tomashik
The Buck/Hainline House / Folk Victorian / c.1902 The houses on Mason Street between the railroad tracks and Monroe, along with those on Park between Mason and Tenny, are the oldest blocks of intact neighborhoods in West Dearborn. This lovely folk Victorian home stands on land originally owned by the Sloss family. William and Margaret Sloss, both born in Ireland, moved from Detroit to Dearbornville in the 1830’s. They bought 100 acres south of Michigan Avenue to farm and also ran a store. The Sloss store stood on the present site of Comerica Bank, at Michigan and Mason’s SW corner.
The grandson of William and Margaret, Arthur, sold lot number 78 to William Buck in 1902. Buck, sometimes listed as Bock in census reports, was born in Mecklenburg, Germany and emigrated to the U.S. in 1868. Listed as a laborer, he was most likely a retired farmer. Tax assessments indicate the house was built in that same year by either the Dittmer Brothers of Livernois Avenue in Detroit or Gus and Charles Coates of Taylor.
This charming house was of similar design to others on the street, all built between 1895 and 1904. Materials were purchased from the Wallace lumber yard. On the back of each lot were large red barns which housed carriages and driving horses. 📸 by Ian Tomashik, research by Mariya Fogarasi
Preservation isn’t always about what’s happened in the past. Sometimes, it’s about recognizing and recording when history is being made – and successfully rehabilitating old buildings, no matter their clout, to serve modern demands.
The concrete block commercial building at 13810 Michigan Avenue hasn’t always been an iconic landmark. But that didn’t stop Haraz Coffee House owner Hamzah Nasser from choosing this site to help revitalize Dearborn’s East Downtown district. Since at least 1961, this was the home of Stanley Agency, Inc., who achieved an enduring 50-year run in the local insurance sales business. For many years, its textured brick façade advertised the business with large black letters set against a grey-painted background.
Nasser’s 2020 renovation preserved the building’s signature brick entryway but reimagined its streetscape by cutting a new entrance and several large windows into its parking lot wall. Ornate metalwork and creative lighting now tie both facades into a single patio-like environment that wraps toward the neighborhood.
Haraz House isn’t just a great place to grab a coffee or meet up with friends. It’s also Dearborn’s latest example of how updating historic streetscapes blends cultures old and new, and opens a window of Dearborn history that we can enjoy in the present. 📸 by Paolo Mastrogiacomo, research by Ian Tomashik