The Ransom Gillis mansion, long a symbol of decay in Detroit’s Brush Park district, will be completely renovated in a few short weeks.
(Photo: Diane Weiss, Detroit Free Press)
The Ransom Gillis mansion, long a symbol of decay in Detroit’s Brush Park district, will be completely renovated and ready for new occupants in a few weeks.
On Thursday executives of the Quicken Loans/Rock Ventures family of companies, which owns the mansion, joined HGTV host Nicole Curtis of the show “Rehab Addict” on a media tour of the home. Built in the 1870s at the height of Brush Park’s elegance, the home barely survived decades of blight with only its brick walls intact.
But workers over the past month have been working to stabilize the structure, and this month Curtis has been working with the team from Bedrock Real Estate Services, an arm of businessman Dan Gilbert’s Quicken/Rock network, on a top-to-bottom renovation.
The renovation of the historic mansion will be featured in an eight-part series featuring Curtis premiering in November on HGTV.
HGTV host Nicole Curtis of the show “Rehab Addict”Buy Photo
HGTV host Nicole Curtis of the show “Rehab Addict” gives the media a tour of the Ransom Gillis mansion in Detroit’s Brush Park district on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. The renovation of the historic mansion will be featured in a series featuring Curtis in November on HGTV (Photo: Diane Weiss, Detroit Free Press)
“This is a home that is very special to Detroiters, but not only to Detroiters but preservationists and historians across the country and across the world,” Curtis told reporters inside the home. “All eyes are on this project right now, and that’s why I’m so very excited.”
Jay Farner, Quicken’s president and chief marketing officer, echoed that.
Detroit mansion undergoes prep work ahead of HGTV visit
“It was one of those homes you’d look at and say, ‘Look what Detroit once was,’ ” he said. “So to be part of the restoration of the home has got everybody really really excited.”
As Curtis noted, the renovated structure will not be an exact match for the original decor. In the 1870s era of rich families with servants, the kitchen was most likely in the basement and modern conveniences like refrigerators and dishwashers did not exist. Also, there are no blueprints or photographs of the interior of the house as built, so the rehab team is working largely by instinct.
For example, the interior walls would have been plastered in the original, but Curtis and Bedrock have decided to leave the interior brick walls exposed to signal the age and historic nature of the structure.
Gilbert plans 337 new townhouses and apartments for Brush Park
There was no final estimate yet of the cost since the work is still underway, but clearly the project is expensive. Bedrock is also renovating three other nearby historic homes on Alfred, Those are part of Bedrock’s larger project of building at least 300 new residential units on 8.4 acres of vacant land in the Brush Park district.
“We are sparing no expense and no amount of detail to renovate them to the original historical significance,” Melissa Dittmer, Bedrock’s director of architecture and design, said of the four historic structures.
The 5,600-square-foot Ransom Gillis mansion will be divided into two units, probably to be rented initially but possibly sold to new owners eventually.
Contact John Gallagher: 313-222-5173 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jgallagherfreep.
Detroit Free Press, August 6, 2015