It’s no secret that Detroit has an abandoned house problem. Since the city filed for bankruptcy, the abandoned, blighted homes seem to be the main focus of many national news outlets. Contrary to what’s being shown or written about by the outlets, there are plenty of viable neighborhoods in the city where people care about their homes and strive to maintain and restore them to their past glory.
One such place is the Historic Woodbridge Neighborhood, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is located just off Grand River Avenue near West Warren Avenue, about two miles northwest of the city’s center. It’s a good-sized neighborhood with hundreds of 100-year-old homes that have been, or are in the process of, being restored.
The charming old neighborhood is full of two-and three-story Victorian era homes and apartment buildings constructed of wood or brick. Most were built between 1870 and 1900. There are a variety of architectural styles represented there including Queen Anne, Romanesque, Second Empire and others that were popular at that time. The tree-lined streets of this quaint neighborhood (in particular Commonwealth and Avery) are filled with the historic places, and many are painted in period colors.
In addition to the large, beautiful homes found there, the neighborhood has a relaxed small-town feel to it. I’ve ridden through this tight-knit community plenty of times over the years, and I’m always impressed with its sense of community. It’s one of those densely populated Detroit neighborhoods where people seem to know their neighbors and take the time to stop and talk to each other.
Like many stable Detroit neighborhoods, Woodbridge is home to a diverse group of residents. There are artists living in the community that have installed sculptures in community gardens and have painted alley walls in vibrant colors. Due to its close proximity to Wayne State University, college students live in many of the area’s apartment buildings and flats. It’s also a place where families with small kids, in strollers or in-hand, take leisurely walks along the sidewalks. It’s not uncommon to see older folks out walking dogs, waving to others sitting on a large porch as well.
Quaint old neighborhoods like Woodbridge can be found across the city. They offer a refreshing contrast to what the national and local media coverage seems to show on a regular basis.