Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Boston-Edison Historic District

Located just north of Detroit’s New Center area, the Boston-Edison Historic District is composed of 36 blocks and over 900 homes. The district is bordered by Boston Boulevard on the north, Edison Avenue on the south, Woodward Avenue on the east and Linwood Avenue on the west. It is one of the largest residential historic districts in the country.

The earliest owners of the land within the district’s boundaries in the early 1820s were Mayor John R. Williams and Thomas Palmer, father of Thomas W. Palmer, The United States Senator for whom Palmer Park was named. Developer Edward Voigt foresaw the growth of Detroit along Woodward Avenue and began acquiring land as early as 1884, platting the area between Woodward and Hamilton Avenues in 1891. Voigt built the first homes in the area, which became known as the Voight Park subdivision. These homes were occupied beginning in 1905.

Voight established the character of the neighborhood by creating wide boulevards and streets and a large grassy park, now known as Voigt Park. Many architectural styles are represented in the neighborhood, including English Revival, Romanesque, Greek revival, Italian Renaissance and more. Many of the homes were built between 1905 and 1925 and are built of brick, stone, or stucco, with details such as leaded glass windows, slate roofs, and elaborate door surrounds.

Detroit’s booming auto industry led to a phenomenal rate of growth, with that being reflected in Boston-Edison. Numerous prosperous and historic Detroit figures have lived in the district including Henry Ford, Walter Reuther, James Couzens, Ty Cobb, Joe Louis and Berry Gordy, Jr. to name a few.

One important element that distinguished the Boston-Edison District from other prominent Detroit neighborhoods was the absence of restrictive religious or racial covenants in place as was common practice at that time. A number of prominent Jewish business, religious, and community leaders, including clothing store founders Benjamin Siegel and Wolf Himelhoch, and jeweler Meyer Rosenbaum, owned homes in the district. The large Jewish community likely played a role in the smooth racial integration of the Boston-Edison District beginning in the 1940s.

Today, a group known as the Historic Boston-Edison Association is actively engaged in ensuring that the district remains a safe community that is beautiful and inclusive, while protecting the historic character and value of the homes. The Boston-Edison Historic District received historic designation from the Detroit Historic District Commission in 1974 and was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1975.



Henry Ford's Boston-Edison home, 1971

Sacred Heart Major Seminary, 1970 - 2008.033.969

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