Historic Homes

The D.M.Ferry Superintendent’s House

When I was teaching at Wayne State University in Detroit, I purchased the Ferry Seed Company Superintendent’s house, which had been surrounded by seed lots one-quarter mile from the city limits at the time (1885). When I purchased the house from its previous owner (who the neighborhood kids called “pimp daddy”) it was run down and in bad shape. Over the 20 years I lived there we gradually restored the house, repainted the exterior shingles and trim in historic colors, planted 15 fruit trees, fenced in the property, refinished the floors revealing different parquet patterns in each room, and used Bradbury and Bradbury patterns to decorate the front parlor walls and ceilings. The house received Michigan historic designation, based on the report that is reproduced here. By the time we moved away the neighborhood was extremely poor, and many nearby plots had their houses demolished after scavengers stole their exterior bricks to sell to builders in the suburbs.

A number of photographs show the exterior of the house and the decorated front parlor.

Ferry House 1885
Ferry House 1975 View 1
Ferry House 1975 View 2
Ferry House parlor View 1
Ferry House Parlor View 2

The Lincoln Avenue House

We moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1992 when our two children reached school age, to take advantage of better schools and to avoid increasing levels of crime in and around our Detroit neighborhood. The house we purchased had been subdivided for student housing and needed significant repairs to the dirt basement, to the broken stucco, and to the barely functioning kitchen. Over time we added space for a real kitchen and 2nd floor addition, repaired the basement and stucco, repainted the stucco and trim, added storm windows, a new furnace and air conditioning. The neighborhood, we soon realized, was very desirable because of its proximity to the University of Michigan Central Campus and Law School, and our neighbors were primarily academics and highly degreed professional workers.

These photographs show the house when it was first purchased and after it had been repainted and repaired. 

Lincoln House Original
Lincoln House Restored View 1
Lincoln House Restored View 2
Lincoln House restored View 3