Ransom Gillis House

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Ransom Gillis House
205 Alfred Detroit.JPG
General information
Architectural style Venetian Gothic
Location 205 Alfred Street
Detroit, Michigan
Coordinates 42°20′38.27″N 83°3′8.96″W / 42.3439639°N 83.0524889°W / 42.3439639; -83.0524889
Completed 1876 or 1878
Design and construction
Architect Henry T. Brush & George D. Mason

The Ransom Gillis House is an abandoned single-family home located at 205 Alfred Street in Midtown Detroit, Michigan, within the Brush Park district. It was designed by Henry T. Brush and George D. Mason, and built between 1876 and 1878. The structure, unoccupied since the mid-1960s, was "mothballed" by the City of Detroit in 2005/2006, in hopes of restoration in the future.


The Ransom Gillis House was built for Ransom Gillis, a wholesale dry goods merchant.[1] The property was sold by Gillis in 1880.[2] The house and property passed though the hands of four different upper-income families between 1876 and 1919. After this time the main structure was converted into a rooming house, along with most of the other structures on the street.[3] The carriage house behind the structure was rented by Mary Chase Perry Stratton in 1903, becoming the first home of Pewabic Pottery.[4] The pottery moved in 1906 and the carriage house was then occupied by an auto repair shop, a battery service shop, and finally a filling station, before being torn down and replaced by a restaurant in 1935.[5][6] The restaurant operated until the 1960s and was demolished in 2005/2006, as part of the city's "mothballing" work on the property.[7]

A storefront was added to the front of the Ransom Gillis House in the late 1930s and was operated along with the rooming house until the mid-1960s.[8][9][10] Various attempts were made to restore the main structure in the 1970s, 1980s, and mid-2000s, none of which succeeded.[11][12][13]

The property is owned by the City of Detroit as of 2001.[14]


The Ransom Gillis House brought to Detroit the Venetian Gothic style, made popular by John Ruskin's book The Stones of Venice. The centerpiece of the structure was the turret situated in the front left corner, the circumference of which was accented by five rows of tiles of simple geometric designs in hues of bright blue, red, yellow, and brown. Similar tile work was spread throughout the rest of the structure. The base of the turret was decorated with stone carvings of quadruplets of flower blossoms, similar but all slightly different. The turret was supported from below by an ornate stone post. Dark ornately carved wood columns enclosed the porch at the entrance to the house. Lastly, a steep, dark slate mansard roof with ornate iron cresting completed the peaks in a traditional detail of the day.[15][16]


On March 25th, 2015, the Detroit Free Press announced that Nicole Curtis will be restoring the home on her TV series, Rehab Addict. Curtis spoke of the project saying "The energy here [Detroit] is unreal and it's unmatched anywhere else." ... "For doing what I do, to be in a city that's excited for us to be here and not fighting us? It's a huge thing." Work on the house is estimated to begin summer 2015.[17]



  1. ^ Ransom Gillis Home
  2. ^ Warranty Deed, Helen A. Gillis to Mary M. Stinchfield, Sept. 3, 1880.
  3. ^ 1920 US Census, Series: T625 Roll: 802 Page: 36, State Michigan, County Wayne, City Detroit, Ward 1st, Enumeration District 13, sheet 10.
  4. ^ Perry, Mary C., Excerpt from her autobiography-Chapter VII.
  5. ^ Sanborn Maps, Alfred Street Detroit, 1921
  6. ^ City of Detroit Real Property Inquiry System Property Data & Long Legal Descriptions, 2832 John R, Brush Sub of Pt of Pk Lots 12 & 13 (Plats)
  7. ^ Fan photos from 63 Alfred Street
  8. ^ Personal Conversation with John Kossik, February 2007.
  9. ^ Personal Communication with John Kossik, March 19, 2007.
  10. ^ Storefront
  11. ^ Barnett, J., 37 Design & Environment Projects - First Annual Review, 37 Design & Environment Projects - First Annual Review, Washington DC, 1976, pp. 54-55.
  12. ^ Personal Communication with John Kossik, 6/30/2005.
  13. ^ Woodward Place at Brush Park, Conceptual Site Plan
  14. ^ State of Michigan in the Circuit Court for the County of Wayne, Consent Judgment, Brush Park Rehabilitation Project, City of Detroit, a Michigan municipal corporation, Plaintiff vs. Woodward East Project, Inc,; Woodward East Renaissance-Phase I; Douglas Kuykendall, and spouse, if any; Ernestine Rooks, and spouse, if any, Defendants. 7/26/2001.
  15. ^ Ransom Gillis House Turret Summer 2004 & Turret Support Through the Years
  16. ^ Ransom Gillis House Through the Years
  17. ^ Austin, Dan. "Rehab Addict' to save historic Detroit home". http://www.freep.com/story/entertainment/television/2015/03/25/rehab-addict-save-historic-detroit-home/70441852/. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 25 March 2015. 

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