Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Palmer Woods Historic District

Detroit’s Palmer Woods Historic District is bounded by Seven Mile Road on the south, Woodward Avenue on the east, and Strathcona Drive which curves to the north and west. The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

In 1915, the son of Senator Thomas Palmer sold a portion of his late father’s land to Charles W. Burton, a local developer, with the stipulation that the Palmer name be incorporated into the project. In 1938, Palmer Woods received the Michigan Horticultural Society’s Award of Merit as the finest subdivision in Michigan.

Ossian Cole Simonds, known for his use of the prairie style of landscape architecture, designed the curving streets, which are easily distinguishable from much of Detroit’s traditional perpendicular streets. His landscaping was designed to take the best advantage of the natural terrain and to limit traffic by creating very few through streets. More than 300 homes occupy the area, ranging from an average 2,000 square foot home to the 62-room, 35,000 square foot Tudor revival mansion that was built in 1925 for one of the Fisher Brothers (of Fisher Body fame) and donated to the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit as a residence for the bishop. The structure included many religious symbols and what was once the largest number of Pewabic tiles in Michigan. The Archdiocese sold the house in 1989 to then Detroit Piston, John Salley. Other notable homeowners in the district included Charles Burton, who developed the neighborhood, C. Howard Crane, architect of Detroit’s Fox Theater and George Romney, one-time governor of Michigan and his family, including his son, Senator Mitt Romney. 

Most of the homes in the district were built between 1917 and 1929 utilizing a variety of architectural styles including Georgian, Mediterranean, Tudor, and Arts and Crafts. Many of the homes built in the district after 1940 were designed by famous architects such as Minoru Yamasaki and Clarence Day, and includes the only home in Detroit designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Turkel Home, at the edge of the Palmer Woods Historic District on West Seven Mile Road near Strathcona.



Home of Thomas Rinehart in Palmer Woods, 1937 - 2008.039.019

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