The Palmer Woods Historic District is a carefully designed subdivision containing many of the finest examples of residential design in Detroit including those of Frank Lloyd Wright, Minoru Yamasaki, and Maginnis & Walsh. Coinciding with the development of the automobile industry, the Palmer Woods Historic District was home to some of the city's most powerful auto executives. Palmer Woods' 188 acres was designed by noted landscape architect Ossian Cole Simonds and received the Michigan Horticultural Society's Award of Merit in 1938 for being the finest platted subdivision in Michigan. In 1893, Thomas Palmer, Jr., who served as Ambassador to Spain, U.S. Senator, and President of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, donated 100 acres of farmland to the city as a public park. In 1915, two years after Palmer's death, a portion of his estate which was adjacent to the park, was sold to developer Charles W. Burton. Burton took advantage of the rural feel of the area when selling potential buyers on the subdivision. In a 1915 advertisement, he states, "Situated next to the Palmer Park and the Golf Grounds, fronting on Woodward Avenue, but screened from its dust and noise, Palmer Woods is safeguarded from the encroachments of commercialism." Over the years, other developers joined Burton in constructing homes in Palmer Woods including two-term Detroit mayor Frank Couzens, who, along with his partner John Frazor, built 14 homes in the historic district starting in the 1920s. Palmer Woods remains a showcase for the talents of regional and international architects and landscape architects of the first half of the 20th century.
The Palmer Woods Historic District is located directly west of Woodward Avenue and directly north of Palmer Park. The district is bounded by Woodward Avenue, Seven Mile Road, the southern edge of Evergreen Cemetery, Strathcoma Drive, and Argyle Crescent. The buildings of the Palmer Woods Historic District are private residences and not open to the public.
Frank Gorman House
Photograph courtesy of the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office
A path between Palmer Woods and Palmer Park, circa 1895
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