The "Bishop's Mansion" of Detroit. (Photograph owned by the Detroit News).
For those who, more or less forgivably, associate Detroit with "ruin pR0n," the discovery of a gem like the former diocesan mansion in Palmer Woods is a salutary tonic.
If you're in the area, you can tour it this weekend:
Built in the mid-1920s, this 35,000-square-foot Tudor Revival was built by the Fisher brothers [early automotive pioneers and Detroit benefactors--Editor] for the Archdiocese of Detroit to serve as the home of the presiding bishop. Now owned by Great Faith Ministries International, it’ll serve as party headquarters at the end of Saturday’s tour, where ticketholders will be able to see the first floor.“I think it’s the most significant residence in the city of Detroit, so it befits our whole centennial celebration,” said Craig Vanderburg, president of the Palmer Woods Neighborhood Association, who said the Bishop’s mansion was last on the home tour eight years ago. “I don’t know of any other residence that is of that size. When it was built, it just had all the architecture detail and the grandeur that goes along with the house.”The Bishop’s Mansion, or Bishop’s residence as it is also known, is one of five homes on this year’s Holiday Home Tour and Soiree, which runs from 6-9 p.m. The home of Palmer Woods developer Charles Burton Woods also will be on the tour. Tickets are $85 (see box for details).“The (Burton) house was the first house built in Palmer Woods in 1915,” Vanderburg said. “That house has never been on tour ... It’s very appropriate that we have this house (on the tour) in our centennial year.”Palmer Woods, north of 7 Mile and west of Woodward, is Michigan’s first platted subdivision. Situated on land once owned by U.S. Sen. Thomas Palmer, his estate sold the land that would become Palmer Woods to developer Charles Burton in 1915 to create a first-class subdivision.
The 188-acre subdivision is known for its winding streets, canopy trees and regal homes that reflect a variety of architectural styles, with Tudor Revival as it the most prevalent style. Some of the biggest names in architecture — Frank Lloyd Wright, Minoru Yamasaki and Albert Kahn — built homes there for some of the biggest names in Detroit industry. Two of the seven Fisher brothers called Palmer Woods home.