Monday, July 7, 2008

Detroit Neighborhood: Boston-Edison Historic District

The Boston-Edison Historic District is one of the City's oldest and most beautiful historic neighborhoods.

(Full disclosure: we bought our Boston-Edison home in 2002...that's why this neighborhood is my first post of this "Detroit Neighborhood" series!)

Located in a 36-block area of approximately 900 homes, Boston-Edison was originally platted with a land grant by the Territory of Michigan to John R. Williams in 1822, and three land grants to Thomas Palmer in 1828 and 1834. (John R. Williams was an early mayor of Detroit; "John R" street is named after him. Palmer Park was named after Thomas Palmer.) The first homes in Boston-Edison were built starting in 1915.

Boston-Edison is bordered by Woodward Avenue on the east, Linwood Street on the west, Boston Boulevard on the north, and Edison Street on the south. The north-south John C Lodge (also known as state highway M-10) freeway goes through the neighborhood, providing easy access to Downtown Detroit, the suburbs, and all other major freeways.

The developers of the current Boston-Edison area were some of Detroit's most prominent, wealthy, and well-known citizens of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Edward Voight, Truman and John Newberry (of Packard Motors), Henry B. Joy (also of Packard Motors and for whom "Joy Road" was named), Henry Ford, James Couzens, the Fisher Brothers (manufacturers with early General Motors and built the Fisher Building), John W. Drake (Hupp Motor Company), W. O. Briggs (former Detroit Tigers owner after whom Briggs Stadium was named, and the owner of Briggs Manufacturing Company), Sebastian Kresge (Kresge Stores, now K-mart), J. L. Webber (nephew of J. L. Hudson of Husdon's Department Store), Benjamin Siegel (B. Siegel's Department Store), and Rabbi Leo M. Franklin (Temple Beth El, Michigan's oldest Jewish Congregation).

After the Henry Ford Hospital (1915) and the Fisher Building (1927) were opened on nearby West Grand Boulevard, the Boston-Edison neighborhood attracted many of Detroit's business and religious leaders, doctors, dentists, pharmacists (including Sidney Barthwell, one of Detroit's most influential African-American pharmacists).

In 1974, Boston-Edison received historic designation from the City of Detroit, the State of Michigan, and the Federal Government, ensuring B-E's neighborhood viability and architectural distinctiveness. Historic District Ordinances are strictly enforced.

Today, the homes of Boston-Edison are owned and occupied by people of diverse ages, races, professions, and occupations. Several times each year, there are parades, holiday parties, home tours, picnics in Voight Park, other cultural and social events.

Boston-Edison is one of the 25 Detroit Neighborhoods designated as Neighborhood Enterprise Zones (NEZ), in which many homes qualify for reduced tax assessments of up to 15 mils.

For more information about the Boston-Edison Historic District, including many homes currently for sale, check out the Historic Boston-Edison Association website, from which much of the information in this post was obtained. The HBEA, the oldest continuous neighborhood association in the City, was founded in 1921.


  1. great blog. lots of good historical info.

    I'm thinking of buying a house in B-E but I'm a little concerned about crime and taxes. I don't want to have to worry about my house or car being broken into.

    And taxes are outrageous. I know it can be reduced with the NEZ, but I would need to know if, and for what percentage of reduction I qualify before buying a house. That's a significant factor.

    Do you have any insight for me? Thanks.

  2. Hi Jacob: Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting! There is some crime here just like anywhere else; but not a whole lot. However, we have a 24/7/365 private security service in addition to the Detroit Police. Each household that signs up pays just a few dollars per month to benefit the whole area. We also have an active neighborhood association with people who watch each block.
    All taxes in Detroit are high, but our neighborhood is one of the ones first slated for tax reduction.
    We would love for you to buy a house here. Consult your Realtor for more information. This is a buyer's market!

  3. My fiance and I are also looking into buying a house on Boston Blvd. There are some great historic homes for much less than you would pay in the suberbs. My fiance works for DMC so the commute would be much better. I am not so fearful of the crime- but rather of the costs of heating the huge histoic houses. I grew up in Grosse Pointe and our house was built in 1930 and so the insulation wasnt great. What is an average bill for heat and gas? Also, I am concerned about the resale of the house. DO they hold their value? They are so low right now I can only fear that they may lose value instead of gaining value like a house in the suberbs might. Any thoughts?


  4. Natalie! All your great questions can be answered @! BTW: the beautiful house next door to us just went up for sale! You would LOVE Boston-Edison!

  5. Very nice site,I've always been truly amazed with the beauty of the architectural designs in B-E.Its unbelievable the immense pride the craftsmen (back in the day) put into everything they did.Ive been wanting to move to the Detroit area for the past 5 or 6 years but my wife is afraid of violent crime mainly because of our kids.I'm a furniture builder restore antiques and an artist,art is my first love but in the 20 years Ive been out of school I have not made $100 being an artist but I think that could change being in a city if not I'm sure the furniture or antique thing will be huge plus my wife has always been a G.M. or R.G.M. at different restaurants plus we have some money saved I think we can get incomes fairly quick.Are their any large houses setting abandoned that may be for sale that's not on the market? I think Ive seen everything that is listed.B-E looks pretty big on the map is any part better than other parts? How much violent crimes exist in the area?Are the schools as bad as other parts of detroit?

  6. Hello Jamie: We would definitely welcome you here in Boston-Edison. We have a very diverse group of home owners; living here is no different than living in any other big city. Here in Boston-Edison, we also have our own private security service which is very nice.

    The more people like you who move into the City and our area, the better everything becomes. Thank you for commenting.


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