Louis G Redstone Residential Historic District
The Louis G. Redstone Residential District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. Portions of the content of this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2016, The Gombach Group.
The Louis G. Redstone Residential District contains three houses designed by Detroit architect Louis G. Redstone located in a row on Appoline Street in Detroit. The two-story, red brick structures stand in the Greenwich Park Subdivision in northwest Detroit. Constructed in 1940, they are representative examples of International Style residential architecture designed by architect Louis G. Redstone for himself, his brother and his business partner. The designs share common characteristics such as their simple geometric massing, low slope hipped roofs, reclaimed red brick walls with brick detailing, curved walls, and steel casement and glass block windows. Each house has an attached single-car garage.
The houses share a similar arrangement of interior spaces with approximately 2,000 square feet of living space. The walls and ceilings are finished primarily in plaster; however, some rooms feature wood veneer paneling. The wood paneling appears to be rotary-cut curly maple with a honey stain. The interiors also feature open stairs, built-in cabinets, vanities, shelving, curving walls, and planters and niches for the display of art and sculpture. The corner windows provide natural light and ventilation as well as views of the backyard and surrounding neighborhood. The houses have experienced some modification, primarily limited to the enclosing of balconies and porches and the construction of small single room additions.
The houses are sited in the middle of their rectangular lots, which are slightly larger than the other lots in the neighborhood. The houses are tightly spaced, similar to the other houses on the block, and uniformly set back from the street. The houses share a common backyard that is enclosed with a red brick perimeter wall with no intermediate dividing walls. Incorporated into the wall are benches and cantilevered stone shelves to provide seating and the display of sculpture. Also set within the wall is a large outdoor grille or cooking stove used by the families during outdoor social gatherings. In the middle of the backyard is a small concrete wading pool used by the Redstone children. The wading pool features two stylized snail sculptures, one at each end of the pool.
The Redstone-designed houses are located on Appoline Street, a two-lane, north-south residential thoroughfare connecting Ford Road with W. 8 Mile Road in northwest Detroit. A formal entrance to the Greenwich Subdivision is located at West Outer Drive, north and west of the properties. Six blocks east of the properties is MacDowell Elementary School, constructed in phases during the 1940s and 1950s and displaying International or Art Deco style characteristics. One block south of the District is West 7 Mile Road which is lined with many commercial buildings dating from around the same period as the Appoline Street houses.
The commercial, institutional and residential developments in the area date from the first half of the twentieth century. Many of the surrounding houses in the neighborhood have Colonial Revival and other traditional style features and detailing. Redstone's designs, with their compact vertical massing and red brick exteriors, are compatible with the surrounding architecture and do not stand out among the other houses on the block. The larger lots on which the houses are constructed also do not stand out from their neighbors when walking or driving past the properties. The houses at 19303 and 19309 Appoline Street that were occupied by Louis and Solomon Redstone seem to have a slightly more refined design than the third house constructed for the Abrams which has a more rigid box-like massing and fewer details. The Redstone Houses are set back approximately 20' from Appoline Street with a small lawn in front. Each lot is rectangular in plan with a combined area of approximately 0.33 acres. The Louis Redstone house at 19303 Appoline Street is located at the corner of Appoline Street and Cambridge Avenue. Its attached garage faces south towards Cambridge Avenue. The topography of the site is flat. The lots are edged with granite curbing at the street. Each house has a concrete driveway and concrete walkways that extend from the public right-of-way. Landscaping includes small areas of open lawn and small to moderate-sized shrubs around the base of the buildings. Ivy vines are growing up the walls of two of the houses. Historic images show that the ivy has been present, to some degree, since at least the late 1940s. An approximately 4' tall brick wall encloses the common backyard space separating the property from the alley along the rear property line and from Cambridge Street on the south and adjacent lots to the north. Several cantilevered concrete shelves and benches have been integrated into the brick wall to provide areas to sit and display outdoor sculpture. Also, a three-section brick and cast iron outdoor kitchen or fireplace/grille, the metal part labeled "Hancock Outdoor Fireplace" and manufactured in Pontiac, Michigan, is built into the center of the perimeter brick wall with an inset bas-relief panel on the chimney. The panel appears to display a stylized image of four children playing in a pool or fountain. The image likely relates to the small 10' x 14' oval pool and fountain built in the backyard between the 19303 and the 19309 houses. Built some time shortly after the initial construction of the houses, the shallow wading pool features a stylized concrete snail sculpture at each end designed by Samuel Cashwan, a sculptor and friend of Louis Redstone. It is possible that the bas-relief panel was also created by Cashwan. The names of Louis and Sol Redstone's children are carved into the concrete of the wading pool at the base of the small sculptures.
While many of the surrounding houses have detached garages located at the rear of their lots, each of the Redstone houses has a single-car garage attached to or integrated within the main volume of the house. There are no other outbuildings on the property.
19303 Appoline Street
The 2,083 square foot house that Redstone designed as his family home is located at 19303 Appoline Street and sits on a 0.13-acre rectangular corner lot. There are several large mature trees lining the Cambridge Avenue side of the property. Ivy vines are growing up the walls at the southeast corner of the house as Redstone may have intended as part of the original design. A small rectangular planter provides an area for planting on the stoop. A glass block panel that originally enclosed the south wall of the stoop to shelter the entry from winter winds has since been removed. The brick perimeter wall that encloses the rear yard curves to meet the southwest corner of the house. Concrete walkways from the front and side entrances connect to sidewalks along Appoline Street and Cambridge Avenue. Also, a short concrete drive extends from Cambridge Avenue to the single-car garage at the southwest corner of the house. A flagstone patio originally located along the north side of the house and shown on the original drawings has been enclosed by an addition.
This house, built in 1940, is a wood frame structure with an L-shaped plan. Both entrances to the house have roofs over the stoops for cover. A single brick chimney is located in the center of the low-sloped hip roof. Along the Cambridge Avenue facade Redstone placed three vertically oriented glass block windows to follow the path of the stairs on the interior. Steel casement windows of various sizes are placed on each facade. Corner windows in the second-floor master bedroom provide light, ventilation and views in two directions from this room. Glass block panels have been used in the semi-circular niche in the living room and on the west-facing elevation of the garage. Two panels above the garage door on the south-facing elevation may have also contained glass block at one time. Another significant feature of the house is the second-floor terrace or balcony above the garage. This feature may have been inspired by Redstone's work in Palestine where terraces, balconies and corner windows were common elements used in residential designs due to the arid climate of the region. The introduction of header and soldier courses and other masonry details provides visual interest and breaks up the massing of the facade.
The interior of the house is laid out with the public spaces, primarily the living room, kitchen, dining room, vestibule, closets, lavatories, sewing room and garage on the first floor. The more private spaces including the bedrooms, a bathroom, sundeck and Redstone's home studio for painting and producing architectural drawings are located on the second floor. The studio also features a large central skylight, fireplace and custom built-in wood furniture and shelving. The studio ceiling follows the pitch of the roof which increases the open space and the light reflected from the skylights. Utility and recreational spaces are located in the basement. Wood and plaster are the principal materials used on the walls, doors, ceilings and floors. Ceiling tiles were used in the basement and in the second-floor studio and adjacent bedroom. The main living room and dining room spaces have inlaid parquet wood floors. Several built-in pieces of furniture, cabinets and shelving are strategically located throughout the house for storage and the display of artwork and sculpture. There is also an indoor planter with a marble sill built into the glass block wall between the living room and dining room. The fireplace surrounds in the living room and within the second-floor studio are simple fluted gray marble panels that project a few inches from the wall. Colored ceramic tiles are used on the floors, walls, and showers in the bathrooms. These spaces also include built-in towel racks, soap holders and tissue dispensers. Other design features include wood and metal railings, curved walls, and gray marble sills. Green asbestos tile, visible in historic images, remains on the floor of the bedroom adjacent to the studio.
Redstone also incorporated a sophisticated sound system into the home with flush wall-mounted speakers that provided music to the master bedroom, dining room, basement recreation room, and an outlet to connect outdoor speakers in the rear of the house. Many of the light fixtures are original, consisting of recessed lamps with simple flat glass covers or shades. Vents for heating and cooling are provided in the ceiling and wood walls. The original basement ceiling has been removed exposing the floor joists and diagonal bracing.
The addition that enclosed the outdoor patio extended the dining room and created a small den-like space off of the living room and kitchen. The interior of the dining room and addition is entirely clad with wood paneling and includes two built-in cabinets. The date of the addition is unknown.
19309 Appoline Street
The approximately 1,675 square-foot, two-story house located at 19309 Appoline Street sits on a 0.14-acre rectangular lot and has a small open lawn in the front yard, and a concrete driveway and walkway that connects the entrance to the sidewalk along Appoline Street. Two short light poles with circular globes—one of which has been broken—provide exterior lighting to the front of the house. Landscaping consists of several low shrubs placed along the front elevation. A rectangular brick planter is located next to the front stoop.
This 1940, red brick, hipped-roof residence designed in the International Style is characterized by its asymmetry, curved walls, corner windows and brick detailing. The house is L-shaped in plan with an integral single-car garage facing Appoline Street and rectangular one-story addition on the rear. On the main facade facing east the centrally located entrance is covered with a projecting porch roof. A corner window on the first and second floor provides light and views from two directions. Also, Redstone's use of an oval window is unique to this house. The curved wall of the slightly projecting garage is embellished with protruding courses of brick. Redstone balances the smaller volume of the garage with that of the main house by making it taller than necessary and incorporating masonry detailing into the front elevation. A new low-sloped gable roof has been installed over the garage replacing the original flat roof that was concealed behind a low brick parapet. A large chimney is located on the north side of the house. Brick detailing includes a continuous rowlock course below the second-floor windows, soldier course at the first-floor level and concrete sills at the glass block windows above the garage door. The main public spaces including the living room, dining room and kitchen are located on the first floor while the bedrooms are located on the second floor and there is a den and laundry room in the basement. Like 19303 Appoline Street the walls and ceilings are primarily plaster; however, the walls of some select rooms, like the office, dining room and addition, have wood veneer covered walls. New ceramic tile floors and carpeting have been installed throughout much of the first floor. Colored ceramic tiles are used in the bathrooms, which also include original built-in towel racks, tissue holders, and soap dishes. The concrete floor and brick walls are exposed in the garage. Also like 19303 Appoline Street, Redstone incorporated several built-in cabinets, dressers, vanities and shelving units into the interior walls. The office on the first floor is entirely clad in wood including a wall of cabinet and shelving and a shallow vaulted plaster ceiling with decorative wood molding that conceals a cove light. Curved corners at wall intersections, wood railings , marble sills and glass block partitions are additional design features found on the interior of this house. There is a fireplace with a fluted marble surround in the living room and a second fireplace with a brick and concrete surround in the basement. Many period light fixtures remain including built in-light fixtures integrated into the wood walls of the children's bedrooms. Vents for heating and cooling are incorporated into the wood walls and plaster ceilings.
Many of the original windows have been replaced. The corner balcony on the second floor has been enclosed with a wood frame wall and exterior siding. A single-story, flat-roof addition, clad with similar brick to that used on the original house projects from the rear elevation. The date of the addition is unknown.
19315 Appoline Street
The two-story house located at 19315 Appoline Street sits on a 0.14-acre rectangular lot with a concrete driveway and concrete walkway connecting the garage and entrance to Appoline Street. Landscaping on the site consists of an open lawn with a single large mature tree in front of the house, shrubs lining the base of the structure, and ivy growing up the north elevation. A short light pole with a sign containing the address appears to date to the original construction.
Constructed in 1940, this approximately 2,000 square-foot house possesses similar characteristics to the other two properties but has a more straightforward and rigid massing. The main facade facing east towards Appoline Street is organized into three bays and has a centrally located entry door flanked by narrow windows. The stoop or front porch is protected by a narrow roof that projects from the facade and curves at one end to meet the exterior wall. A single-car garage located in the north bay is incorporated into the main volume of the house. The slightly projecting south bay has a shallow subtle curving wall that provides visual interest to the facade. The south bay contains a glass block window at the first-floor level and a large double casement window flanked by glass block panels on the second floor. Similar to the other houses a header course at the height of the second-floor window sills divides the facade horizontally. An original open porch and balcony located at the southwest corner of the house have been enclosed with a brick veneer wall matching that of the rest of the house.
† Rob Yallop, Lord, Aeck & Sargent, architects, Louis G. Redstone Residential Historic District, Wayne County, MI, nomination document, 2012, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.