Monday, November 17, 2008

Detroit Unique Neighborhoods: Palmer Woods

Palmer Woods is another beautiful westside Detroit neighborhood listed on the National Historic Records. Composed of approximately 289 homes built mostly in the early 20th century, Palmer Woods is 188 acres bounded by Woodward Avenue, Seven Mile Road, Strathcona Drive, and the Sherwood Forest Neighborhood.

Palmer Woods is named after a 19-century United Senator, Thomas W. Palmer, who owned land on both sides of Woodward Avenue from Six Mile Road to Eight Mile Road. He donated part of his land to develop Palmer Park, and also some of his land was eventually used for the Michigan State Fairgrounds in the early 20th century. After Thomas Palmer died in 1913, a prominent real estate developed named Charles Burton purchased the remaining Palmer acres and began the development of an exclusive enclave for some of Detroit's richest and most famous residents. Each lot is unique in size and scope, and there are few sidewalks in the elegantly designed district. In 1938, the Palmer Woods neighborhood received a merit award from the Michigan Horticultural Society as the finest platted subdivision in Michigan.

Bishop Gallagher Residence
Although many of the homes in Palmer Woods were constructed between 1917 and 1929, some were built after World War II, with the most recently built home in 1956. The most prevelant architectural style of the spacious Palmer Woods homes is Tudor Revival, and the largest home in Detroit, the Bishop Gallagher House, is 40,000 square feet. The former home of William Fisher, of the Fisher Body Company and the Fisher Building, is 35,000 square feet. Other architectural styles in Palmer Woods include: Neo-Georgian, Mediterranean, Modern and Craftsman.

Many prominent citizens had homes in Palmer Woods at the turn of the 20th century, including Charles Burton himself, two of the seven Fisher brothers, and John H. Kunsky, the founder of the United Artists Theatres. The Bishop Gallagher Residence was built for the Fisher Brothers and later given to Bishop Michael Gallagher and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit. Later both Edward Cardinal Mooney and John Cardinal Dearden lived in the home while they were the Archbishops of Detroit.

Today, Palmer Woods Historic District is still one of the most beautiful and exclusive neighborhoods in Detroit, home to artists, executives, politicians, and physicians. There is a very active homeowners' association, and there are many neighborhood activities and home tours throughout the year.

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