HGTV viewers will have to wait until this Thursday evening (November 5 at 9 p.m.) to watch Detroit’s stunning 1870s Ransom Gillis house come back to life on the popular Rehab Addict TV show. But this weekend, hundreds of people, including members of the media, lined up for a sneak preview of the newly restored home at 205 Alfred St. in Brush Park. While there was no charge for admission, attendees were encouraged to bring donations for charity.
Since late July, HGTV-star and metro Detroit-native Nicole Curtis has worked in conjunction with Quicken Loans and others to rebuild the crumbling 139-year-old Venetian Gothic mansion, which sat vacant for decades.
“We are proud of our role in the restoration,” said Jay Farner, president and chief marketing officer of Quicken Loans. “Bedrock Real Estate Services, Nicole and a very talented team of local craftspeople have truly restored the historic mansion to its former glory. 50 of our team members also rolled up their sleeves to help with landscaping and interior projects, as viewers will see during the eight-part TV series.”
The Ransom Gillis mansion is widely considered the most iconic of the homes in Detroit’s historic Brush Park neighborhood. The renovation is part of a larger redevelopment effort by Brush Park Development Partners to transform 8.4 acres into new residential units, retail and green space, flanked by the M-1 RAIL on Woodward Avenue. Bedrock is one of the partners in the neighborhood restoration project.
“This is just the first milestone,” said Bedrock executive Steve Rosenthal. “It’s very exciting!”
Development of the other older houses on Alfred is expected to begin this winter and work on the entire site will start in spring 2016, creating up to 300 new residential units.
The Ransom Gillis house has long been a dream home for “rehab addicts,” with its brooding turrets and façade of brick and Pewabic tiles. Well before its abandonment in the 1960s, the property gained early notoriety as the first home of Pewabic Pottery in the 1900s. The house had become a symbol of the city’s decline, but will now gain new national acclaim as a symbol of Detroit’s rejuvenation.
The restoration highlights plenty of exposed-brick, some repaired stained glass, and a turret with both a writing desk and a view of downtown’s cityscape.
“The mansion was boarded up when we started,” said Julia Schlau, a project manager with Bedrock. “The entire interior had to be gutted for the renovation, but the original structural brick walls are exposed.”
Schlau notes that the home was originally much smaller than what exists today.
“The mansion had two phases of additions put on it over the years,” she explained. “Exposing the original brick shows the history of the home. Four of the six original columns in the turret were found throughout Brush Park. The two that were not located were carefully recreated. I bet people can’t guess which ones are the originals and which are the replicas.”
The eight-part Rehab Addict series showcasing the Detroit mansion’s restoration begins airing Thursday, November 5 at 9 p.m. on HGTV.