Detroit is known as a city of neighborhoods and the never-ending miles of streets are lined with a variety of homes. Most are well-built single-family residences, constructed mainly of common red brick, and many have matching garages. Bricks were widely used in the construction of these places because they are cheap to produce, strong, and came in standard, common sizes.
In some ways, riding throughout the city’s diverse neighborhoods reminds me of suburbia. Many of the city’s homes are constructed in the same architectural style, but incorporate small, almost unnoticeable variances, such as door or window placement. There are plenty of look-a-like bungalows and colonials built in the 1940’s and 50’s, as well as single-story ranch homes lining the city streets. In some of the more upscale neighborhoods, English Tudors seem to be the style of choice.
Before the city’s rapid expansion in the 1940’s and 50’s, many of the homes being built tended to be one of kind, custom places with unique stone details, slate roofs, ornate trim, etc. Although red bricks were widely used, several of the earlier, larger, and more expensive homes were built using sandstone bricks. That type of brick has a warm earth-tone hue and a rough texture. They come in uneven sizes, making for an interesting house design. They look like something found on a European building constructed hundreds of years ago. Not only were many of the earlier, larger Detroit homes built of them, so were many of the accompanying garages.
One sandstone brick garage in particular caught my attention on a recent ride. The beautiful old two-story structure is located behind a small mansion of a house on East Grand Boulevard. It looks as if it was initially built as a carriage house, and the two barn doors facing the side street appear to be original. With the exception of the bricked-in door openings and windows on the alley side, the garage looks to be unaltered and in pristine condition. If I had to guess, this beautiful old European style garage was probably built in the early 1900’s. It’s a gem of a place and not your typical Detroit brick and mortar garage.