Rosedale Park Historic District
The Rosedale Park Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. Portions of the content of this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2014. The Gombach Group.
Rosedale Park, located approximately twelve miles west of downtown Detroit, was developed in the early 20th century as a streetcar and automobile suburb. The District, which covers more than 340 acres including stately homes, tree-lined streets, and proximity to the countryside, attracted an elite group of residents. The District is primarily residential with homes exhibiting a wide range of architectural styles, from one to two-and-one-half stories in height. Despite the variety of architectural styles and patterns, the District maintains a shared rhythm and cadence of residential construction with uniform setbacks and tree-filled medians between sidewalks and streets.
Originally developed at the edge of metropolitan Detroit's urban area, Rosedale Park was soon surrounded by the westward suburban expansion of Detroit. Adjacent farmland was filled with other housing developments, such as the Brightmoor, Grandmont, Grandmont I, and North Rosedale Park neighborhoods, as well as commercial interests lining Grand River Avenue. The most visually prominent contributing resources in the district are the former Central State Bank (now Bank One), built in 1927 at 18203 Fenkell, and the former First Church of the Nazarene (now Greater Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church), built in 1950 at 18751 Fenkell.
The district is bordered by visually prominent developments including the Grandland Shopping Center, a strip-mall development located between Grand River Avenue, Fenkell Avenue, and Glastonbury Boulevard, as well as two apartment complexes on Outer Drive West. Stoepel Park has preserved some open space for area residents to enjoy. The setting and feel of Rosedale Park within the district, however, have changed little since development ended in the mid-20th century.
Garages are nearly ubiquitous accessories for houses in Rosedale Park, with the majority of lots each containing one single bay or double bay detached garage. A small percentage of houses in Rosedale Park have an attached garage, but this feature is most usually a later addition to a pre-existing dwelling. A few exceptions to this rule are seen in the western portion of the neighborhood, in houses built in the late period of development in Rosedale Park. For example, 15043 Minock and 15080 Minock, were both constructed in the spring of 1938 in the Moderne style. These houses feature single bay garages integrated into the main portion of the structure. Construction types of these ancillary buildings vary from detailed efforts to match a house in roofline and materials to astylistic structures built simply to provide shelter for the family car. The earliest houses in Rosedale Park may have included garages for leisure vehicles, but as residents became more reliant on automobiles for everyday transportation in the 1920s, a garage was usually constructed along with a new house. Approximately half of original garages remain in Rosedale Park, with the remaining portion replaced with more recently constructed versions.
For most of those streets platted between 1916 and 1917 in Rosedale Park Subdivision and Rosedale Park Subdivision #1, each block also features a focal point of community cooperative effort: a landscaped traffic island. These curbed and manicured spaces serve the dual purpose of creating visual appeal and regulating traffic. This section's residential streets are positioned perpendicular to adjacent commercial and transportation thoroughfares in an effort to discourage unwanted traffic and noise. These early streets include Ashton, Rosemont, Penrod, Faust, Greenview, Glastonbury, Stahelin, Artesian, Warwick, Piedmont, and Grandville boulevards. The 1921 westward expansion of Rosedale Park Subdivision #4 included the addition of the north-south streets of Minock, Auburn, and Plainview boulevards and Evergreen Road bounded on the north and south by Outer Drive West and Fenkell Avenue. These additional four blocks differ in the lack of landscaped traffic islands, although wide medians exist in portions of Outer Drive West.
In addition to strategically aligned streets and selective lot frontages, three sets of brick and stone piers mark major entrance points into the district. The earliest and most elaborate are located at the juncture of Ashton Boulevard and Fenkell Avenue, next to Bank One and near the intersection of Grand River Avenue and the Southfield Freeway. Rising to over fifteen feet in height, these piers flank the Ashton Boulevard entrance to the district. The second pair of piers, located at the intersection of Glastonbury Boulevard and Grand River Avenue, echoes the form and material of those at Ashton Boulevard but is considerably smaller in scale. The final set, located at Piedmont Boulevard and Grand River Avenue, is the most modest in size.
These entry symbols abutting elements of commercial activity serve to signify the shift to a residential landscape and encourage conservative driving upon entering the district from either Grand River Avenue or Fenkell. This shift in atmosphere is further emphasized by the aforementioned traffic islands placed in the center of many north/south street blocks, which require the driver to curve around them. These islands, filled with flowers and large trees, serve to slow traffic, buffer noise, and provide a pleasing focal point of visual interest. Over the years, they have been a source of pride for residents, who have organized themselves into block groups to share in their upkeep and beautification.
Lining the streets are rows of oak and maple trees that cast heavy shadows over the neighborhood, with branches reaching toward the street's center to form a lush canopy in the warm months. Some of these trees were planted in the 1910s and 1920s, while others are younger replacements of trees lost to disease, storms, or age. Sidewalks, lining both sides of each street, act as semi-public spaces between the tree rows and private yards. The balance of each street, punctuated with landscaped islands and lined with trees and sidewalks, is echoed in the yard setbacks and lack of front yard fencing. Each house is placed on its lot with a minimum of thirty feet between the street and the house, thus creating a pleasing and unbroken greenbelt on both sides of the street.
Between the years 1917 and 1955, over 1500 houses were built in Rosedale Park in a variety of sizes, styles, and forms. Construction materials for these houses include wood, aluminum, shingle, and vinyl siding; half timbering; stucco; and masonry units of both solid and veneer brick, stone, and concrete block, with masonry construction as a significant element in the majority of houses in Rosedale Park. These construction materials were utilized in the expression of a diversity of styles spanning the aesthetic tastes and economic capabilities of five decades of homebuyers. To maintain a certain level of construction quality and desirability of setting, building and deed restrictions were imposed by the developers. It appears that these restrictions were not imposed uniformly throughout the entire development, but were limited to a street-by-street or block-by-block basis. They typically dictated an approval process for building plans through the Clemons, Knight, Menard Company as well as a list of acceptable materials, the depth of building set backs, and limitations on fencing materials. For example, according to a warranty deed dated 25 June 1919 for Lot 1206 Rosedale Park Subdivision Number 1, located at 15352 Glastonbury Boulevard (formerly Harrison Boulevard):
According to Detroit's Beginnings: Early Villages and Old Neighborhoods, many of the homes in Rosedale Park were "custom-built by their owners with a variety of architectural styles and features such as libraries and breakfast rooms." As described in a neighborhood promotional publication, homes in the district typically have "between three and five bedrooms, and two thousand to twenty-five hundred square feet . . . [with] fireplaces, two car-garages, and are tree-shaded and landscaped."
Representative examples of the architectural styles found in Rosedale Park include: Colonial Revival, Bungalow, American Foursquare, Arts and Crafts, Prairie, Dutch Colonial, Art Deco, Tudor Revival, French Renaissance, Ranch, Garrison Colonial and International Style.
† Rosedale Park Historic District, Wayne County (Detroit), Michigan, National Park Service, NR #06000587, 7/12/2006, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.