William C. Boydell and the development of Detroit industry

Adjoined to the venerable Cass Café is another relic from the area's Gilded Age halcyon days. It is the home of William C. Boydell, one half of the Boydell Brothers. Born in Stafford, England in 1849, the Boydell family relocated to London, Ontario before finally settling in Detroit five years later. In 1876, William and older brother John formed the Boydell Brothers White Lead & Color Works, manufacturers of paints, leads, zincs, brushes and painters' supplies. William served as vice-president. During this time, Detroit was beginning to come into its own as an industrial powerhouse. Long before the automobile, Detroit was home to a variety of industries, including stove making, for which it became the "Stove Capital of the World" and tobacco, for which it was known as "The Tampa of … [Read more...]

“That Old White House on the Corner”

The El Moore, built in 1898, was designed by prolific local architect A.C. Varney. In his first post for the El Moore blog, Detroit architecture & history enthusiast Jonathan Peters takes a look at another of Varney's buildings in the neighborhood, "that old white house on the corner," located just one block east of the El Moore.  The Queen Anne-style house at the southwest corner of Cass Avenue and West Alexandrine has a long, fascinating past that is integral not only the neighborhood it inhabits, but to the City of Detroit as a whole. 3975 Cass (originally 709 Cass) was built for Robert H. Brown, a tobacco magnate, along with his wife Jennie, at a time when the street was lined with elaborate homes and flats for the well-to-do. The designer, Almon Clother Varney, was one … [Read more...]