Farms fetes its better homes and gardens during beautification awards

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published December 5, 2012

 At left, Grosse Pointe Farms Beautification Advisory Commission Chair Karen Shea and, at right, Mayor James Farquhar, congratulate award winners Dr. Mary Sue Stonisch and Daniel Monahan during a ceremony Nov. 19 at Farms City Hall.

At left, Grosse Pointe Farms Beautification Advisory Commission Chair Karen Shea and, at right, Mayor James Farquhar, congratulate award winners Dr. Mary Sue Stonisch and Daniel Monahan during a ceremony Nov. 19 at Farms City Hall.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it’s likely not too many people would say the homes and gardens recognized by the city’s Beautification Advisory Commission are anything but lovely.

Some of the city’s prettiest properties were honored during a ceremony and reception Nov. 19 at City Hall.

Mayor James Farquhar admitted that there were “a lot more beautiful homes” in the Farms than the city was able to honor during the awards ceremony, but the event offered a look at some of the best this year.

“This is a special night in Grosse Pointe Farms,” Farquhar told attendees. “We are truly blessed to live in an area where people put in the time and effort (to beautify their properties).”

Nominations can come from commission members, residents and even the homeowners themselves. Beautification Advisory Commission Chair Karen Shea said they use a point system and set of 12 standards to determine the winners. At the end of the season, the properties with the most points win, she explained. Criteria include color and variety of plants, layout, proportion, front doors and walkways, health of shrubs and more, Shea said. This year, the commission considered 34 homes for beautification awards and nine for legacy awards, she said.

Of Glenn Crane’s home in the 400 block of Roland Court, Shea complimented the tall arbor vitae and iron gate, among the property’s many impressive features.

“This home has texture, balance and scale,” she said.

Shea said Allison and Benjamin Harrell’s home in the 100 block of Country Club was marked by “unique and elegant color combinations,” great form complementing earth-tone shades, and scarlet-leafed trees that are “absolutely gorgeous.”

Atanas Ilitch and his wife weren’t able to attend the ceremony, but Shea said their New England-styled home — in the first block of Cherryhurst — features “winding garden beds,” perennials and a tall cluster of birdhouses that “add whimsical interest.”

Shea praised Charles and Cynthia Luce for their “inviting entrance” and other aspects of their property that make the home — in the 300 block of Hillcrest — a “breath of fresh air.”

Daniel Monahan and his wife, Dr. Mary Sue Stonisch, have lived in their home in the 300 block of Lake Shore for the last eight years, Monahan said. This year, he said they added a gazebo to the yard, among other improvements to a property that features a pool and a pond with about 70 Koi fish.

“It’s exciting,” Monahan said of the win, for which he said they were thankful and humbled. His family firm, the Monahan Company — celebrating its 90th anniversary this year — did the renovations, he said.

Joan Garvey, who lives in the 300 block of Touraine, received the first ever Nightscape Award for her use of lights to illuminate her home and landscaping after dark. The 34-year Farms resident was delighted to win the award.

“I worked very hard to maintain it and make it nice for everyone to see,” Garvey said of her property.

Shea called the property “very beautiful” and praised the “strategically placed lighting.”

One of the most prestigious honors is the Legacy Award, and this year it went to the Janovsky residence in the first block of Vendome. The award is given to a previous winner who won a beautification award more than five years ago, Shea said. She said more than 50 percent of the commission must vote for the Legacy Award winner. Beautification Advisory Commission member Anne Burke said only one home can receive this honor annually. The Janovsky home won in 2006, and Shea said the brick and stone home features box plantings, “dramatic large planters” at the entrance, seasonal items in pots, and more special touches.

“This home is an extraordinary residence,” she said.

The Legacy Award is especially difficult to win. Shea said the category was added about six years ago.

“It’s generally (a property that’s being) recognized for year after year of beautification efforts,” Shea said.

After many years on the Beautification Advisory Commission — the last 10 of them as chair — Shea is stepping down.

“You’ve done a great job,” Farquhar told her. “We’re going to miss you as chairman.”

Shea thanked officials, and called working on the commission “a truly enjoyable volunteer experience.”

“It’s been a real privilege and an honor,” she said, vowing to remain involved in the city in some capacity. Shea said other demands are forcing her to give up the chair position.

Residents interested in volunteering for the Beautification Advisory Commission should contact Farms City Hall at (313) 885-6600.