Saturday, September 17, 2005

Spotlight on: Garden Court

Albert Kahn is perhaps the greatest architect that this city has ever seen.

Although the German-born Kahn is most often recognized for his commercial structures - such as the Maccabees Building in Midtown, the Belle Isle Aquarium, and the Fisher Building in New Center - his residential works are equally astounding.

Today's post, which is about Garden Court, looks at one such example of Kahn's residential work.

Built in 1915 for J. Harrington Walker - whose famous distillery, Hiram Walker and Sons, was established across the river in 1858 - the Garden Court was one of Detroit's first luxury apartment buildings.

Located on the southeast corner of Jefferson Avenue and Joseph Campau, the Garden Court's exterior is composed of limestone and red brick. The building is an H-shape design, and is part of Detroit's Rivertown district.

Originally built with 32 units, some of which encompassed more than 4,000-square-feet, the residences inside the nine-story Garden Court were designed with Detroit's urban elite in mind.

With features like servant's quarters, European-style bath tubs, and crystal doorknobs, it is not surprising that the Garden Court served as a permanent dwelling for many prominent Detroiters, including Hazen Pingree, who served as Detroit's Mayor from 1890 to 1897, and Michigan Governor from 1897 to 1900.

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In June, 2005, the Farbman Group announced plans to convert the apartments at the Garden Court into condominium units.

Ranging in size from approximately 800- to 3400-square-feet, the 65 units at the Court - which were created when some of the original units were split up - contain many of the fixtures and characteristics of the original interiors.

Original french doors and decorative wall moldings adorn the hallways of the Garden Court

These original fixtures - which include hardwood floors, built-in closet shelves, bay windows that run the entire height of the building, and other items - help maintain the vintage elements of the Classic Revival-style building, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Buildings in 1985.

Details like the leaded-glass shutters pictured above abound in the Garden Court units

Along with preserving many of its classic characteristics, however, Farbman reportedly put $12 million of renovations into the ninety-year-old structure, which now contain new plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems.

One of the Garden Court's newly decorated model units

In addition, all of the newly-converted units have brand-new, standard features like marble countertops and appliances for the kitchen, and ceramic tile and pedestal sinks for the bathrooms. All units also contain natural fireplaces.

The chandelier in the GC lobby

Building amenities at the Garden Court include 24-hour security; private, gated parking; and, evening valet service. A fitness facility for residents is being planned.

Prices for units in the Garden Court start at $130,000 and run upwards of $400,000; condominium association fees are extra, and are based upon the size and location of each unit.

The Garden Court is located at 2900 East Jefferson in downtown Detroit and is represented by Esquire Properties. For more information, please call 313.580.2200.

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