I finally got a chance to get a pic of the famous Ransom Gillis house in the Brush Park neighborhood of Detroit. This is the house that Nicole Curtis renovated for her HGTV show. I was down in Detroit a few years ago but I never took a pic of this house before Nicole started working on it. I did find a photo of it on Wikipedia from 2005, and it’s unbelievable how bad of shape the house was in before the restoration. I see beautiful old historic houses thought the state, but they are in need of serious restoration. I get a lot of comments that they are “too far gone” but I know a lot can be done, if someone is willing to do it. Money wise, it’s up for debate if it’s worth the investment to restore an old home, but it’s hard to put a price on history. you can build a new house, but you can build a new historic house.
The Ransom Gillis House was built in 1876 at a cost of $12,000 for Ransom Gillis, a wholesale dry goods merchant. The property was sold by Gillis in 1880. The house and property passed though the hands of four different upper-income families between 1876 and 1919. After this time, the main structure was converted into a rooming house, along with most of the other structures on the street. The carriage house behind the structure was rented by Mary Chase Perry Stratton in 1903, becoming the first home of Pewabic Pottery (which you can read about in my post HERE). The pottery moved in 1906, and the carriage house was then occupied by an auto repair shop, a battery service shop, and finally a filling station, before being torn down and replaced by a restaurant in 1935. The restaurant operated until the 1960s and was demolished in 2005/2006, as part of the city’s “mothballing” work on the property.
The Ransom Gillis House brought to Detroit the Venetian Gothic style, made popular by John Ruskin’s book The Stones of Venice. The centerpiece of the structure is the turret situated in the front left corner, the circumference of which is accented by five rows of tiles of simple geometric designs in hues of bright blue, red, yellow, and brown. Similar tile work was spread throughout the rest of the structure. The base of the turret is decorated with stone carvings of quadruplets of flower blossoms, similar but all slightly different. The turret was supported from below by an ornate stone post. Dark ornately carved wood columns enclosed the porch at the entrance to the house. Lastly, a steep, dark slate mansard roof with ornate iron cresting completed the peaks in a traditional detail of the day
I hope to someday see the Ammi Wright house in Alma restored HERE or the Sleeper Mansion in Bad Axe HERE or the Cat Lady House in Saginaw HERE
P.S. I watched the Batman Vs Superman movie to see the house in the movie before it was renovated. they showed if for a few seconds. (There’s 3 hours of my life I will never get back.)
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