The Inn on Ferry Street
The East Ferry Avenue Historic District is significant for it’s turn of the century, upper class residential streetscape illustrating a variety of architectural styles popular from the 1880s through the first decades of the twentieth century. Ferry Street first appeared in the records in 1874, named after Dexter M. Ferry, seed merchant and president of the DM Ferry Seed Company which had nurseries further east on Ferry Avenue, East Ferry Avenue was not developed until late in the 1880s, after a subdivision was platted in 1886 and lots were sold.
Although D.M. Ferry never did build himself a house on this section of East Ferry Avenue, he succeeded in subdividing his land and selling off lots subject to special building restrictions. All buildings had to be single dwelling houses, built of brick, stone or hollow tile with cement face construction, set back 40 feet from the sidewalk, not to be erected within three feet of the side lot line and to cost no less than $7,000. Mr. Ferry made all the lot improvements and in addition, paved the avenue and had water, gas pipes and sewers laid. By compelling uniformity, he expected to develop the handsomest avenue in the city.
60 East Ferry Avenue – William A. Pungs House (1891): This large, two and one-half story, Romanesque Revival style, gable-roofed house was built of gray St. Lawrence marble with a round conically-roofed tower and an arcaded side porch. There is a matching carriage house at the rear. The owner, William A. Pungs was the vice president of the Michigan Railroad Supply Company which organized in 1882, then merged with the Chicago Railroad equipment Company in 1899. Mr. Pungs also founded the Anderson Carriage Company, helped found and organize the Pungs-Finch Auto and Gas Engine Company and the Michigan Yacht and Power Company.
60 ½ East Ferry Avenue – Smith Carriage House (1892): This Romanesque style, St. Lawrence marble structure was built as a matching carriage house for the William Pungs House on 60 East Ferry. The Smith Carriage House later was named after Raymond Conrad Smith (1898-1995), a generous but quiet benefactor for many cultural, healthcare and civic organizations around Detroit. In 2001, the Raymond C. Smith Fund generously contributed to the restoration of the building and terrace.
70 East Ferry Avenue – Herman Roehm House (1888): This Queen Anne style end-gable-roofed, brick and red sandstone house has a two-level front bay window and wide front porch with paired columns. The owner, Herman Roehm was born in Germany and came to America in 1847. He assisted in organizing the hardware firm Radcliff, Roehm and Weston, which became Roehm and Davidson in 1871, incorporated in 1901. In addition, Mr. Roehm was president of the Detroit Carriage Company.
84 East Ferry Avenue – John Scott House (1886-87): This large, two and one-half story, Queen Anne style, cross-gabled roofed (with half-timbered gables), brick house has a wide front porch supported by brick piers. The owner John Scott was a well known architect in the late nineteenth century also responsible for the design of the Wayne County Building, Detroit.
100 East Ferry Avenue – George A. Owen (1886-87): This large, two and one-half story, Romanesque Revival style, gabled hip-roofed brick and brownstone house has ornamental stone banding and marquetry, pinnacles, columned veranda wrapping around the front and an abundance of Romanesque-inspired ornament. The owner, George Owen was the owner of a dry goods firm.
110 ½ East Ferry Avenue – John R. Carriage House (1892): This Romanesque style, brick and red sandstone trim structure was built as a matching carriage house for the William Jackson House on 110 East Ferry. The John R. Carriage House was named after John R. Williams (1782-1854), Detroit’s first mayor and also served Detroit for five other terms.
The six historic buildings that are a part of The Inn on Ferry Street were all purchased by the Merrill-Palmer Institute, an educational institution nationally known for its pioneering work in the fields of child development and family life. Eventually the homes collectively came under ownership by the Detroit Institute of Arts in the 1970s and remained so until the renovation of the buildings began in February 2000 for The Inn on Ferry Street.