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Grosse Pointe Bronze Historic Plaques

Posted by Michal J Fikany on April 14, 2015
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Since 1986, the Grosse Pointe Historical Society has been annually awarding historic plaques to Grosse Pointe landmarks to recognize their historical or architectural value to the community, to encourage their continued preservation, or to recognize the vale of the adaptive reuse.
The bronze plaques, designed by J. William Gorski, bear the image of the Society’s logo, a French windmill that stood on the shores of Lake St. Clair in the 1700’s. They are 8 inches in diameter and weight five pounds.

Bronze Plaque

Owen Skelton House

273 Ridge Road, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236

Built: 1928

Style: Franco Norman

Plaque #53: Awarded in 2004

Bronze Plaque #53

The dramatic residence at 273 Ridge Road confidently proclaims a romantic vision of French Norman architecture.  It is a wonderful example of American architectural ingenuity from the early 20th century.  Constructed in 1928 far from Normandy, this grand, two-story home reflects the ambition and success of its original owner and the yearning for world validation of new world economic success.  The home’s unique site arrangement, entry court, bold massing, and prominent conical tower feature are complemented by stone facades and steep slate roof construction.  Beyond the principal facade, elegant stone details, an additional tower feature, and carefully placed windows with garden views complete the French Norman effect.

The original owner of the home was Owen R. Skelton, whose life engaged two centuries from 1886 to 1969.  In 1923, Owen Skelton was asked by Walter P. Chrystler to head a design team for the new Chrysler Model B automobile, along with Fred Zeder, and Carl Breer.  This first Chrysler automobile was produced in 1924.  Later, Mr. Skelton was also instrumental in the design of the 1934 Chrysler airflow, a car that was not well received by the public, but later praised by automotive designers for its bold aerodynamic styling.