Sunday, September 6, 2015

Rehab Addict Detroit ~~ Brush Park Midtown Edition

Nicole Curtis is an artisan with a hammer.  She restores old homes to their "former glory" using repurposed materials.  Nicole doesn't update--she returns homes as close to an original state as her limited budget will allow. Many of her projects were on the brink of demolition, abused by fire, water and scallywags for years.

As a youngster settled in the rear seat of my parents' avocado Ford station wagon, I'd imagine living in the Victorian brick mansion at the
corner of Alfred and John R. 

My room would be the corner one with the turret--which I wouldn't have to share with my untidy sister.  I'd no clue the stately home was likely eviscerated even back then.  I just thought it enchanting.

As a law student, I'd pass the elegant ruins and envision the restorative possibilities of the crumbling, but still elegant structure.  Same for the beautiful city which seemed to be deteriorating along with it. 

Three decades later Nicole Curtis is transforming the way Detroiters perceive themselves--and their city. 

Selden Standard
Detroit was once a thriving manufacturing metropolis attracting those in search of the American dream.  My grandfather left school in the sixth grade to work a Pennsylvania coal mine.  He came to Detroit with his young family in search of a better life.  Retiring from Ford at the age of 60, Jack left this world owning homes in Michigan, Florida and Canada.  Last year his great-grandson opened one of the first "rebirth" restaurants in midtown Detroit.

The core city is reverting to the incubative stage that preceded the automotive boom.  The possibilities feel limitless.

Nicole's most complex Detroit project to date is the restoration of the iconic Victorian.  Comerica Park's sprung up at one end of John R. The Detroit Medical Center's new Heart Hospital at the other. 

The home was completed in 1878 for Ransom Gillis, a wholesale dry goods merchant.  It was designed in the Venetian Gothic style by architect Henry T. Brush and George D. Mason.

The entire block is now encased in a serious chain link fence with a construction trailer, staging tent and heavy-duty equipment. With any luck, the two additional boarded brick structures within the compound will also fall under Curtis' magical spell.

Restoring this iconic structure's not only
symbolic, it's synergetic.  Brush Park was already getting back on its foundation.   Just across the street from the mansion is a bustling community garden.

Midtown Detroit is undergoing an amazing regenertion. 

The back wall of a brand new restaurant perched on a downtown corner says it well -- "This Town Ain't for Weenies."

Detroit's not for everyone.  But everyone's not cut out for Detroit.

The address of Rehab Addict Nicole Curtis' Detroit midtown project is 205 Alfred Street, Detroit, Michigan. 

Look for the Rehab Addict Brush Park Project to be featured on the HGTV and DIY networks in 2016.

Townhouse Detroit

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