This exclusive residential neighborhood consists of nearly three hundred large houses constructed mostly between 1915 and 1940 after plans by such well-known architects as Minoru Yamasaki, Frank Lloyd Wright, Maginnis and Walsh, Richard Marr, Alvin E. Harley, and J. F. Ivan Dise for leading Detroit industrialists, merchants, corporate officers, doctors, and lawyers. Real estate developer Charles W. Burton (1848–1945) acquired the acreage from the heirs of Thomas W. Palmer in 1915 and platted and developed Palmer Woods. The subdivision was landscaped by Ossian Cole Simonds (1855–1931), a civil engineer with Holabird, Simonds and Roche, to retain natural beauty and to add winding drives, wooded vistas, and artistically grouped shrubbery. Born in Grand Rapids, Simonds is recognized for his landscape designs for cemeteries, parks, subdivisions, and residences throughout the Midwest. Architecturally, the neo-Tudor style dominates the houses of the chief executives of the automobile industry—Fisher Body, General Motors, Chrysler, Chevrolet—and the S. S. Kresge Company. Palmer Woods received the Michigan Horticultural Society's Award of Merit in 1938 for being the finest platted subdivision in Michigan.
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