Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Woodbridge Farms Historic District

Detroit’s Woodbridge Farms Historic District land was originally a ribbon farm owned by William Woodbridge, territorial governor of Michigan from 1819 to 1820. The district was platted in the early 1870s when two leaders of the Detroit real estate business, brothers Henry Clay Hodges and Charles Carroll Hodges, began building homes on the property.

The original inhabitants of the district mainly consisted of a blend of merchants, professionals, industrialists, and widows. Prominent early residents included the co-founder of the Wagner Company Esselstyn Bakery; a partner in Hitchcock & Co., wholesale woolens and tailors; a conductor with the Michigan Central Rail Road; a member of the M.H. Chamberlain & Co. wholesale wine and liquor; and a proprietor of Michigan Steam Laundry. Additional occupants of the area included a dealer in sewing machines, pianos, and organs and a builder.

The architecture of the buildings in the Woodbridge Farm Historic District ranges from single-family, Second Empire, Queen Anne and Romanesque style homes of the 1870s, to apartment buildings from the 1920s. The district’s location was originally bounded by Trumbull Street, Calumet Street, Gibson Street, Grand River Avenue, Rosa Parks Boulevard, West Warren Avenue, Wabash Street, and the Edsel Ford Expressway.

The neighborhood flourished as a middle-class community through the Great Depression, however, after World War II, many more affluent residents moved to the new suburbs leaving the poorer residents behind. The deterioration continued through the 1990s fueled by absentee landlords who allowed the properties to deteriorate. Recently has there been re-investment and revitalization of the area in conjunction with the revitalization of the City of Detroit.

The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.