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Grosse Pointe Historical Society
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Current News letter: Fall 2014
Continued Reading


The Cadieux Farmhouse Move

Not Forgotten

An Elegant Georgian Party

Frank Bicknell Educational Lecture Series

Ribbon Farm Days

Legends of le Detroit

Second Saturday Children's Workshops

Donor and Sponsors

The Cadieux Farmhouse Move: A personal perspective

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 - what a wonderful day for moving a house! It had rained hard the day before.

I had been worried about that little house since I moved to Grosse Pointe two years ago.  I would walk my dogs by it and wonder why it seemed that no one was living there.  Well, no one WAS living there.  I learned that Beaumont Hospital was going to build a parking structure on the property and was looking for a new "home" for this historic dwelling. 

The house was built in Detroit by Isadore Cadieux in 1850. It was later moved by barge to the waterfront at Bishop Road in Grosse Pointe Park.  From there it was moved to its most recent land parcel, but on the water.  It was said that one of the Cadieux women suffered from allergies caused by the lake. To alleviate her condition, the house was moved inland, to what is now 16939 E. Jefferson

The original house itself is only 800 square feet.  In 1991, it was saved from demolition by a local community group named Cadieux House Restoration Corp., headed by Elaine Hartmann.  After the house was renovated, enlarged and updated, Doug Boehmer purchased it and moved in, owning it until Beaumont bought it in 2011.

I was eager to get myself up and out to watch the little house make its trip to its new home.  After 144 years on this site, this darling farm house had found a loving new owner and new yard to snuggle into.  Leslie Kaye was selected from several candidates wishing to own the house.  She is the perfect caretaker for this little French gem.

I was at the corner in time to see the process begin.  It was very labor intensive: Grosse Pointe City Police managing traffic and public safety, DTE workers in cherry pickers lifting lines above the road, tree cutters, also in cherry pickers, out ahead managing branches.  And most impressively, a clean-up crew that followed, whisking away and immediately shredding every fallen branch. A street cleaner then made the site appear as if nothing had been littering the street a few minutes before.   As an observer, I was completely taken by the orchestration of the teams of professional house movers, engineers from multiple utilities, tree removal professionals, city engineers, and public safety officers" control of traffic and pedestrian safety. 

Leslie Kaye was there on house-moving day.  She dispensed cheery conversation and croissants as she strolled through the crowd of nedia reporters, well-wishers and new neighbors.

The Cadieux house now sits on huge iron beams, suspended over its soon-to-be new foundation on the St. Clair Avenue property.  Drive by, so you can tell your children that you, too, were able to watch a part of Grosse Pointe history: that of the path of the Cadieux house.

Kay Burt-Willson

Not Forgotten

John Angle did not forget. On the contrary, he made the memory of his friend a passion. He did it by treasuring one of Benjamin Marsh’s last letters. It is a simple note, a friendly "hi" between fraternity brothers, warm, kind and friendly, the last John or anyone else would ever hear from Ensign Benjamin Marsh.

Ben Marsh was a Grosse Pointe boy. He lived on RIvard, attended Grosse Pointe High and the University of Michigan, and later joined the US Navy.

Ben's family had a history of military service. His father, Benjamin Marsh Sr., a married man with two children, had volunteered to serve in the First World War. His grandfather, Robert Marsh, fought in the Civil War. On his mother's side, Ben was descended from Revolutionary War Patriot David Ball. Since service to one's country ran through the veins of the Marsh family, his volunteerism was natural. The "unnatural" was an undeclared act of war -- the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese that took the life of Ensign Benjamin Marsh. Marsh had responded to the sirens and rushed to his post in the engine room, where a torpedo ripped through the hull of the USS Arizona.

Benjamin Marsh had been living with his parents in Grosse Pointe, working as a salesman, when he enlisted in 1941. He attended the Naval Academy and was commissioned as an ensign, serving initially at Mare Island Navy Yard in San Francisco to further his training. In the early fall Ben was transferred to Hawaii, where he served first on the USS Tangier and then, on November 4, 1941, was assigned to the USS Arizona.

In the letter that John treasured throughout his life, Ben spoke of how much he was enjoying being deployed in Hawaii. His lament of the lack of eligible "girls" was mitigated by the card games with fellow sailors.

Upon John Angle's death, his family decided to continue his tradition of respect for one of Grosse Pointe's own. Martha Spence, John's daughter, donated Ben Marshall's letter to the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, where it will remain "treasured."

By Richard Burt-Wilson

An Elegant Georgian Party

This year's annual fund-raising party was held on June 18 at Adrian and Paula Price's magnificent home on Vendome.

Guests enjoyed live music that included a three-piece swing ensemble, The Royal Garden Trio; vocal stylist Jeanne Bourget with Jack McCormick at the piano; Levi Hanson on the 12-string guitar, and young artists from the Grosse Pointe Theatre.

The strolling dinner's menu had an English theme highlighted by Shepherd's Pie, fish & chips, Wellington pinwheels, a selection of cheeses and fruit, and tasty one-bite desserts including éclairs.

Many guests posed for photos in the antique cars that graced the driveway. Photographer John Martin once again was there to take the pictures, which the "models" could take home as souvenirs of the party.

The Society gave Adrian and Paula Price a lifetime membership, in recognition of their generosity in hosting the party in their historically important Georgian Revival home.

View the 2014 Gala Photo Gallery

Frank Bicknell Educational Lecture Series

Arsenal of Democracy: The American Automobile Industry in World War II
Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m.
Cook Schoolhouse, 20025 Mack Ave.

Throughout World War II, Detroit's automobile manufacturers accounted for one-fifth of the dollar value of the nation's total war production, and this amazing output from "the arsenal of democracy" directly contributed to the allied victory. In fact, automobile makers achieved such production miracles that many of their methods were adopted by other defense industries, particularly the aircraft industry.

On Wednesday, Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Cook Schoolhouse, 20025 Mack Ave, award-winning historian Charles K. Hyde presents Arsenal of Democracy: The American Automobile Industry in World War II. This presentation details the industry's transition to a wartime production powerhouse and some of its notable achievements along the way.

Arsenal of Democracy includes an analysis of wartime production nationally, on the automotive industry level, by individual automakers, and at the single plant level. For this thorough history, Hyde has consulted previously overlooked records collected by the Automobile Manufacturers Association that are now housed in the National Automotive History Collection of the Detroit Public Library. Automotive historians, World War II scholars, and American history buffs will welcome the compelling look at wartime industry in Arsenal of Democracy.

Dr. Charles K. Hyde is professor emeritus of history at Wayne State University. He is the author of Storied Independent Automakers: Nash, Hudson, and American Motors (Wayne State University Press, 2009), The Dodge Brothers: The Men, the Motor Cars, and the Legacy (Wayne State University Press, 2005), and Riding the Roller Coaster: A History of the Chrysler Corporation (Wayne State University Press, 2003).

Ribbon Farm Days

With sprinkles of fantasy, pinches of history and spoonfuls of fun, 2014 Ribbon Farm Days offered eight weeks of adventure for young people.

Led by Isabelle Donnelly, director of education, each of the four two-week sessions focused on a theme that incorporated one or more of these traditions: Michigan Gardens, Grosse Pointe History, Crafts and Activities of the last two centuries, and Fairy Tales and Children’s Stories.

Session I, Gardens: Students investigated migration patterns of birds and butterflies indigenous to the area. Crafts focused on traditional ways of making our gardens attractive to birds and butterflies.

Session II, Grosse Pointe History: Students learned about life in Grosse Pointe when it was a forest and farm land. Crafts focused on boats and homes.

Session III, Ribbon Farms: Students learned everything there is to know about Ribbon Farms – children's games, domestic chores and crafts. Children made candles and holders, dyed wool, and learned to weave.

Session IV, Children's Stories: Students investigated the importance and meaning of stories for children. An added attraction was a field trip to the Eleanor and Edsel Ford House for the Peter Pan exhibit, followed with a special Peter Pan Pirate scavenger hunt.

View photos from previous years

Legends of le Detroit
Friday, September 26 at 6:30pm*
at the Provencal-Weir House

For more than 300 years, we have been collecting stories about this region that borders on the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair. These stories based on our oral traditions retell a history that reveals not only the events, but the character of the people who first settled here.

Legends of le Detroit brings these tales to us through the magic of storytelling. For one evening, Friday, September 26, guests will experience the best stories told by the best storytellers. The legends begin unfolding at 7 p.m.; *cider and donuts will be available for purchase beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The evening’s stories are from a collected work by Marie Carolyn Watson Hamlin. Published in 1884, the stories reflect Detroit’s French Canadian heritage. Ms Hamlin was related to several settlers -- Godfroy, Marentette and Navaree. She preserved these stories because of her concern that this history would be lost.

Four stories have been selected for this reading. The first, from 1701, "The Nain Rouge" tells of the founding of Detroit and is read by Gina Telford. "Francois and Barbe" from 1710 is about the habitants, or French farmers, and is read by Kay Burt-Wilson. "The Sibyl's Prophecy," an1806 story from the Hurons, is read by Peter DiSante. "Kishkaukou," an 1815 story from the Chippewa, is read by Sal DeMercurio. The storytellers will be dressed in period costumes. Coaching the storytellers are Isabelle Donnelly, Peter DiSante and Sal DeMercurio.

Our stage will be set on the side porch of the Provencal-Weir House. Bring a chair and dress for the weather. (The rain date is Saturday, Sept. 27.) The area will be lit with Tiki lights; Boy Scouts from Troop #396 will help folks with their chairs.

The program is appropriate for children in fourth grade and older.

Read more... Visit our "Legends" page

Second Saturday Children's Workshops

The Grosse Pointe Historical Society continues its lively Second Saturday programming with four new offerings for children. These Children’s Workshops begin at 1 p.m. and feature activities for elementary-aged children.

The first Workshop, on September 13, introduces children to the wonderful world of baking -- individual apple pies. Designed for First Grade and older.

On October 11, participants decorate “Boo-tee-ful” treats using pretzels and white and orange chocolate. Designed for First Grade and older.

On November 8, children decorate a table runner for Thanksgiving. Designed for Second Grade and older.

On December 13, felt Christmas ornaments are the feature of the workshop. Designed for Second Grade and older.

All Saturday events will take place from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at the Provencal-Weir House, 376 Kercheval. Cost is $15.00 per session for members, $23.00 for non-members. Reservations must be made by the Thursday before each event. Call Izzy at 313-884-7010