Indian Village and the 12 Days of Christmas in Detroit

Untitled, photo by BareBonesDetroit

The folks at BareBones Detroit are doing the Twelve Days of Christmas in Detroit, a series on some of the best things to do and see around the holidays. Check their set out on Flickr at the link above (view slideshow) and don’t miss their cool map of Detroit! Of this photo they write:

Day 2: Indian Village. There’s never a better time to take a drive through Detroit’s historic Indian Village neighborhood. Just east of downtown, many of these homes were owned by some of the city’s most prominent, wealthy families. Grab some hot chocolate, turn the radio to 100.3 WNIC and tour some of the Detroit’s most historic homes lit up for the season.

Detroit’s historic Indian Village by Zena Simmons of The Detroit News says that the architecturally diverse Indian Village was home to famous Detroiters including Edsel Ford & Bernard Stroh. Their homes were designed by some of Detroit’s most renowned architects including Albert Kahn, Louis Kamper and William Stratton. The first Village home was built in 1895 at Jefferson and Iroquois and later became the headquarters for WXYZ and the home of the Lone Ranger.

According to the Indian Village Historical Collections, originally, the land belonged to Francois Rivard and Jacques St. Aubin, recipients of French land-grant “ribbon” farms, long narrow strips of land that gave each farmer some river frontage. Abraham Cook acquired the farms between 1811 and 1815. The area consisted mostly of farms, and a couple of upper-class river cottages, but the main attraction was a mile long oval race track. The track was the site of several Michigan State Fairs during the 1860s and was known as the Hamtramck Race Course.

Around 1893, Cook’s heirs formed the Cook Farm Company, Ltd. to develop a “first class residential district on a generous scale”, and the prices were set high so that only the wealthy could build there.

Many assumed that at one time Indians lived on the land. That may be, but John Owen Jr., a key player in the development of the area, selected the name “Indian Village” because he felt the romantic title would add to the sales appeal.

You can also check out Wikipedia’s entry for the Indian Village Historic District and the Historic Indian Village neighborhood site.

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