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Indian Village

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1890s–1920. Bounded by E. Jefferson and Mack aves. and Seminole and Burns sts.

Indian Village is composed of the eighteenth-century French ribbon farms of François Rivard and Jacques St. Aubin. These farms and others were acquired by Abraham Cook between 1811 and 1815. Known as the Cook Farms, the parcel was nearly twelve hundred feet wide and ran north from the Detroit River three miles to what is now Harper Avenue. Between 1836 and 1893, the land was used primarily as a racetrack for trotters, under the auspices of various groups, the last being the Detroit Driving Club. When the club moved to Grosse Pointe Township in 1893, the Detroit Driving Park closed.

Abraham Cook's heirs formed the Cook Farm Company in December 1893 to “buy, sell, lease, improve, and subdivide real estate.” The area was developed as a “first class residential district on a generous scale,” according to the June 6, 1895, edition of the Detroit Evening News. Building codes, construction costs, and the placement of houses on the lots were strictly controlled by the Cook Farm Company to create a dignified and highly desirable subdivision. The romantic name Indian Village was selected, although there was no evidence that Native Americans had ever lived on the land. Just three miles from the center of the city, the subdivision was reached by electric cars in fifteen minutes.

Building begun in 1894 continued at a rapid pace into the late 1920s, when the exodus to the quieter surrounding suburbs began, leaving these large, single-family houses threatened with division into multiple units. Those residents who chose to remain in the area organized to enforce the single-family zoning and in 1937 formed the Indian Village Association, which actively pursues that objective today. Among the prominent Detroiters who lived here were Edsel B. Ford, Robert Craig Hupp, Fritz Govel, Hugh Chalmers, Warren S. Booth, Griffith Ogden Ellis, Robert B. Tannahill, Arthur H. Buhl, Joseph Muer, Ernest Kanzler, and Bernard Stroh.

Styles for Indian Village homes are derived from the full spectrum of architectural tradition, including Colonial Revival, neo-Tudor, Craftsman, Prairie, Mission, Beaux-Arts classical, French eclectic, and Renaissance Revival, all of which were built during the first two decades of the twentieth century. Nearly all major Detroit architects designed homes here.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert


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Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Indian Village", [Detroit, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 108-108.

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