Detroit: The Henry Glover House
From my previous posts:
The city of Detroit, which owned these three houses and the surrounding land, offered all for redevelopment, stipulating that the historic houses had to be retained. And this, this, was the mistake. The city should have also demanded that the facades be restored to their original appearance.
It is no coincidence that great cities are also normally beautiful cities. Humans respond to beauty, be it a beautiful flower, face, or building. Yet somebody, at some high level working for the development company, made the decision that cheapness should prevail. Somebody decided that people and the city did not deserve beauty.
With such a decision in place, what happened was inevitable. Had a more enlightened soul been in charge the results would have been striking.
Today, with laser technology, intricate brackets and ornamentation can be created with surprising affordability. But, on Alfred Street, the will to do things right did not exist.
The mega-development company clearly did not think it necessary to retain a preservation-trained architect, instead relying on, no doubt, an underpaid and inexperienced draftsperson who did not even understand the value of scale. Because the will to do things right did not exist.
The mega-development company clearly did not think it mattered to the buyers of their new townhouses that their windows would overlook banal brick boxes instead of gloriously restored historic houses. Because the desire for beauty did not exist. Because the knowledge that beauty has value did not exist.
In short, the three old houses on Alfred Street are today banal brick boxes not due to cost constraints.
No, they are banal brick boxes due to a lack of vision. And because somebody lacked a spirit of generosity.
Around the block, at 229 Edmund Place, a wholly different story is unfolding. Developer Doug Quada does not have at his disposal the tens of millions spent by the mega-developer of the Alfred Street townhouses, apartments, and the three historic brick houses, yet he doing a laudable first-class restoration. And why? Because Quada has vision. Because Quada has a spirit of generosity. And importantly, because Quada thinks that the people of Detroit deserve such work.
While my Cross House is a monumental project, it pales in comparison to the work required to bring back the Glover House. I cannot recall any house so utterly devastated being brought back to life and I find this project deeply inspiring.
I also cannot help but notice the tale of two cities unfolding on Alfred Street and Edmund Place.
On Alfred, a mega-developer made the decision to restore three historic houses as cheaply as possible.
On Edmund, just around the block, a developer with vastly less available funds is making the effort to restore the Glover House largely to its original beauty and quality.
On Edmund, the will to do things right is profound.
On Edmund, the desire for beauty is profound.
On Edmund, there is profound knowledge that beauty has value.
On Edmund, there is vision.
On Edmund, a spirit of generosity soars.
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