Charles Lang Freer House
The Charles Lang Freer House is located at 71 East Ferry Avenue in Detroit, Michigan. Originally built by the industrialist and art collector Charles Lang Freer, it is currently the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute of Human Development & Family Life of Wayne State University. The structure was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1970 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

History
Charles Lang Freer, in partnership with Col. Frank J. Hecker, made his fortune from the Peninsular Car Company. Freer travelled widely, with one of his favorite spots being Newport, Rhode Island. There, he was favorably impressed by the shingle style summer cottages built by the wealthy. Desiring a similar home, in 1890 Freer contracted with Wilson Eyre to design a home in Detroit. The house, on Ferry Street next door to Hecker's home, was completed in 1892.

Architecture
For the exterior, Eyre used coursed hard blue limestone (now discolored) from New York for the first floor. Dark, closely-spaced shingles of Michigan oak cover most of the rest of the facade of the house. On the third story, a triangular gable and various dormers interrupt the roofline. Chimneys dominate the east and west ends of the home, underneath which are porches. These porches were originally open-air, but are currently closed stucco. On the interior, Eyre designed the home with Freer's art collection in mind. (This collection is now in the Smithsonian Institution's Freer Gallery of Art.) There are 22 rooms and 12 fireplaces in the house, as well as an elevator, and numerous balconies, bay windows, enclosed porches, and skylights. In 1906, Eyre designed an art gallery, added above the stable. In 1904, Frederick Leyland's widow sold Freer the Peacock Room, designed by James Whistler, and Freer had Eyre design another room in the carriage house in which to intall it.

Current Use
In 1916, Lizzie Pitts Merrill Palmer left a bequest of 3 million dollars to found a school centering on home and family development. In 1923, the Institute purchased the house, and have remained there since. In 1980, this Institute was incorporated into Wayne State University.

Building Activity

  • removed a media
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com