The West Village Historic District is roughly between Jefferson, Kercheval, Parker, and Seyburn avenues. Due to its location just west of Indian Village, the neighborhood was named West Village in the mid-20th century. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. West Village is a primarily residential neighborhood containing approximately 275 single- and two-family homes, 30 apartment buildings, and 20 commercial structures built between 1890 and 1920. The architectural styles of the buildings in this district include Queen Anne, Tudor, Colonial Revival, and Mediterranean Revival houses, in addition to Georgian Revival and Jacobean apartment buildings. Upper middle-class homes, apartment buildings, and row houses were quickly built in West Village between 1905 and 1925. The neighborhood has since served as a representation of the large-scale growth of Detroit in the early 20th century. Throughout its history, West Village has been home to several prominent Detroiters, including Franz C. Kuhn, chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court; Edwin C. Denby, secretary of the Navy; Theodore Hinchman, president of the architectural firm of Smith, Hinchman, and Grylls; and sculptor Julius Melchers as was the case with many Detroit neighborhoods, racial tensions and white flight following World War II led to the district’s decline. However, the revival of the Indian Village Historic District in the 1970s led to a renewed interest in West Village.
The areas adjacent to Jefferson Avenue were one of the most exclusive residential addresses in turn-of-the-century Detroit. When the area now West Village was platted around that time, the incorporation of restrictions regarding structure cost, use, setback, and height ensured this area would be popular. Between 1905 and 1925, the neighborhood rapidly filled with upper-middle-class homes, apartment buildings, and row houses. The neighborhood was home to several prominent Detroiters, including Franz C. Kuhn, Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court; Edwin C. Denby, Secretary of the Navy; Theodore Hinchman, president of the architectural firm Smith, Hinchman, and Grylls, and sculptor Julius Melchers. As in many Detroit neighborhoods, the racial tensions, redlining, and white exodus to the suburbs following World War II led to a decline in the neighborhood. However, the resurgence of the nearby Indian Village in the 1970s created a resurgence in interest in the neighborhood. The West Village Association, a neighborhood association, was formed in 1974.
What to Do
West Village is a little retail, and residential oasis tucked away from the fast pace of Jefferson and Van Dyke Avenue. And yes, for those keeping tabs on Detroit geography, West Village is on Detroit’s east side — just one of the many quirks that make the neighborhood so special and day-trip-worthy.
For much of its life, West Village was the “little brother” to its grand counterpart, Indian Village – one of Detroit’s historic mansion districts. Full of row houses, grand apartment buildings, and quaint retail strips, West Village, stood the test of time as a community ready for re-invigoration and reinvestment.
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