Detroit Reborn: The James Scott Mansion

Previously, I did a post about the extraordinary resurrection of Detroit, where I was born.

During the last five years, numerous long-abandoned skyscrapers have been restored, and across the city countless houses have been brought back from the dead.

The story of one structure, in particular, has astounded me: The James Scott Mansion.


The Scott Mansion, far right, at 81 Peterboro Street, built in 1887.


The Scott Mansion.


After James Scott died in 1910, a large addition was built to the rear and east (far left), and the structure was converted into apartments.


Scott also willed the city $200,000 to create a fountain. The astonishing Scott Memorial Fountain on Belle Island was the result.


The converted Scott Mansion survived in good order until it was ravaged by fire, abandoned, and then partially collapsed.


Developer Joel Landy spent thirty-five years believing that the Scott Mansion could be restored, and resisted repeated attempts by the city to demolish the structure.

His decades of efforts were rewarded.

Wanna see?

Scroll way down….




















2018. Wow. Wow.


Again, the before.


See the tower-like dormer just left of center?


Here it was a few years ago. And…


…today. Were all the stones in a heap on the ground and reused? Or were they recreated?


Before, and…




Projects such as this deeply inspire me.

During my life, I have heard countless times: Oh! That old building is too far gone. Tear it down!

But in my experience, almost any old building, no matter its condition, can be brought back to life. And, once resurrected, an old building is no match for a new building. I mean…


…where would you rather live? Here?


Or here?




The Scott Mansion, being renewed as twenty-seven apartments, should be completed this year.

Thank you, Joel Landy. Thank you.

Oh, and…


…while none of the homes on the left side of the street are extant…


….four houses just east of the Scott Mansion have survived.






  1. Linda C on July 3, 2018 at 10:44 pm

    I like seeing cities like Detroit save their history and buildings. Not all history should be saved like the strip malls from the 1970’s, although in years to come the destruction of these buildings may be decried.

  2. Leslie on July 3, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    Detroit architecture is just amazing. One of my final papers in college was focused on the cities ruins. If you get a chance read Detroit: An American Autopsy, Chalie LeDuff. It is a fantastic read.

  3. Architectural Observer on July 4, 2018 at 10:51 am

    YES!!! I would like to echo your thanks to Joel Landy – what a gift he has given us all! It is all too easy for people to say “it can’t be saved” or “it’s too far gone”… Mr. Landy’s accomplishment is living proof that it is never to late to save historic architecture. It does require a strong will, however, and the ability to understand and value the past in the first place.

    The attention to detail seen here is top-notch. Very, very, impressive. Too often developers settle for watered-down facsimiles of historic facades when renovating deteriorated structures… not so here! The precise masonry restoration, slate roofing and copper flashing will help to insure that this place is around for future generations to marvel at.

    We live in a time of rapid change and great uncertainty; what physically remains of our historic roots continues to vanish at an accelerating pace. Therefore, seeing project like this one come to fruition is a great morale booster as well as a gift to all who see it. Thanks for bringing us up to date on this amazing restoration!

  4. Dan Goodall-Williams on July 4, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    Yes, thank you for sharing this. It is very timely in my area (Scranton, PA) that for the last several years there is an old home that the city condemned. However, everyone wonders why since it is not falling in on itself. Not even remotely. Now, suddenly, there is a for sale sign. I’m hoping that someone with money will buy it and preserve it.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing!

  5. Karen Spencer on July 5, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    Thanks so much for this post Ross. Although I have never been to Detroit, I have a soft spot for the city and I have been following Detroit’s rise from the ashes for some time. I sometimes think about moving there (or Pittsburgh) because of the grand homes that need saving and the history of these cities.

    Like so many here, I believe that these beautiful buildings can be saved with craftsmanship, a caring heart and a healthy wallet.

    This is a beautiful restoration. Many thanks to you and Joe Landy.

  6. Chick Everhardus on March 4, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    I was born in Pontiac 68 years ago. My parents moved us to the Lansing area in 1955, but my mother never completely moved. Trips down Grand River Avenue were frequent and always a treat. J. L. Hudson’s, Greenfield Village, the DIA, the Detroit Zoo and countless other places are indelibly etched in my very being.

    Detroit was one of the grandest cities ever built and through the efforts of Mr. Landy and others like him we are reminded of what once was and can be again. If any city deserves a comeback, it’s Detroit. Thank you Joel Landy.

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