2335 W. Farwell Avenue

From HistoryWiki

2335 W. Farwell Avenue, Allen Duplex Condominium.

This condo was included in the 1996 Annual Fall House Tour.

Circa: 1920

Original Owner: Michael Shaw (Condominium developer)

Present (1996) Owner: Herbert and Monica Allen.

The vine-covered walls of this 36-unit Tudor Revival Courtyard Building evoke images of ivy-league school boys studying in their dorms. This World War I-era building has a lovely landscaped interior with a floral island flanked by two benches as its focal point.

The lower course of broken ashlar and the half-timbering and Stucco at the top of the building are archetypical elements of this style. Other components, like the cut stone lintels over the doorways, stacked boiler chimney, and arched courtyard entrance, are also representative of Tudor Revival.

Inside we see the stucco entry vestibule with its arched door and decorative leaded diamond-paned windows. Rare arts and crafts Pewabic pottery tiles made in Detroit are inserted among the more mundane floor tiles. A classic Prairie-style door of solid oak, now bleached, leads into the stairway tier. This style continues in the spindle stair rail leading to the apartment entrance.

Most of the apartments in this section of the building are smaller, two-bedroom units. Visitors entering apartment 1N will be pleasantly surprised. This is truly a distinctive home that the condominium developer, Michael Shaw, created for his own personal use. This duplex contains approximately 2,450 sq.ft. of floor space.

The original doors of burled walnut were retained as were the cove moldings with their decorative corners. The barrel-vaulted ceiling in the entry and the arch motif leading into the dining room continue the Tudor style identified earlier. All woodwork has been refinished to its natural state. To the right is the master bedroom, which has an inset-tray door and courtyard view.

This room is furnished with family heirlooms, as is much of the Allen's home. The mahogany set (circa 1912) came from Herbert's great aunt. The master bath has a cultured marble whirlpool and a linen closet.

The foyer has a curved double arch that leads into a vast open space ahead and to the left there is a customized kitchen and dining room area. The dining area features a built-in buffet with heat-resistant laminated surface and cabinets above. The room has large windows with louvered wooden shutters which coordinate with their Early American dining room set and the balusters surrounding the great room.

Off the dining room is a guest room with a modernized bath and beyond this is the fully applianced kitchen featuring track lighting and rarely used trash compactor. Near this area, is a built-in intercom and sound system connected to speakers throughout the apartment.

Now it is time to descend the solid oak spiral staircase into the great room. A first floor two-bedroom unit was duplexed down into a garden apartment, so there are some exposed pipes in the great room. This only adds to the charm of the unit. The 22-ft. high fireplace, made of broken limestone, dominates the entire space, which is very loft-like because of the way room functionality is delineated by furniture groupings.

Traditional and unconventional media are used in the art works displayed in the Allen Home. Sandpaintings are exhibited in the display alcoves on either side of the fireplace and butterfly wings were used to construct the picture mounted on the wall above the computer. These pieces and most of the wood carvings scattered around the great room were collected on trips to Senegal and Gambia. The carved screen in the corner is Asian and works well with the other pieces.

Near the spiral staircase is a small wood burning stove stamped with the evocative name "Warm Morning" which belonged to his grandfather who was a jazz musician in the 1920s and 1930s. Herbert is an only son and an only grandson, so by rights, he has become the keeper of all this wonderful family memorabilia.

Near the west end of the lower level there is a rear exit, which has become the Allens' unofficial entrance. Adjacent to this exit is a utility closet, a furnace and water heater. This apartment has its own central heat and air conditioning while the rest of the building is steam heat.

Across from the rear door is a stupendous 18-ft. stained oak bar that contains a sub-zero refrigerator, storage for glasses and bottles, and even hides a built-in washer and dryer. There are old-fashioned mirrors and arches at the back of the bar and soft lights in the soffit above that uses a pink filter to exude a true "bar" feeling. Inside the soffit is more storage area. Past the bar we come to somewhat more than a powder room. The half bath to the left is useful, but the real attractions here are the steam sauna/shower and the jacuzzi for six or more.