GPHS gala to make history

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 7, 2017

GROSSE POINTE SHORES — The Grosse Pointe Historical Society is going to do something it’s never done before this month: host its annual gala fundraiser in a new, not historical, home.

The GPHS gala “Summer on the Lake” will take place this year at the home of Katy and Chad Krueger, 671 Lake Shore Road in Grosse Pointe Shores, starting at 7 p.m. June 16. The Coastal Craftsman-styled house was under construction from fall 2012 until spring 2015, and the charming adult and child-sized Adirondack chairs on the front lawn — which overlooks Lake St. Clair — have drawn the attention of many a passing motorist and walker.

Reservations must be made by June 10. At press time, tickets and sponsorships were still available. This is the society’s major annual fundraiser, said GPHS Vice President of Development Stuart Grigg.

“It’s our first time in our 14 years of hosting galas that we have hosted a party in a new home,” GPHS board President Dr. Patricia O’Brien said of the event, which is also the first time the gala will be hosted in Grosse Pointe Shores.

But it’s not as radical as it sounds.

“History is living,” O’Brien continued. “It’s continually evolving, and it goes on.”

Grigg echoed that sentiment.

“We always look to provide interesting, unique insight into Grosse Pointe,” he said. “Honestly, everybody I tell about this (gala location) knows this house. Yes, we’re about Grosse Pointe history, but we’re also about the insider Grosse Pointe.”

This home is special for a number of reasons, as is its design.

“It is the style of home you would see in the Hamptons,” O’Brien said.

Grigg said the property dates back to the ribbon farms of the 18th century — those long, narrow strips of land that ran down to Lake St. Clair. Well-known Detroit attorney Benjamin S. Warren purchased a 107-acre “gentleman’s farm” on Lake Shore Road in 1907, complete with barns and a racetrack. The family remodeled and expanded the original farmhouse to create a more than 20-room home that became known as Fairlawn. The property was subdivided in the 1920s — resulting in the creation of other residential properties, including what is today known as Oxford Road.

After Warren and his widow died, gelatin drug capsule inventor Robert P. Scherer and his wife, Margaret, built a new, contemporary home designed by architect Hugh T. Keyes in 1948 at 665 Lake Shore Road, at the corner of Lake Shore and Oxford roads. In 1984, Mary and Ron Lamparter purchased the home, and they lived there for 24 years. In 2009, the home was torn down and the lot was split into two parcels.

“There’s a wealth of memories of that particular parcel of land,” Grigg said.

The latest owners of the property have acknowledged its history in a number of respects. Grigg said the Kruegers had two large tables created from a walnut tree they had to cut down to build their home. The flooring came from the fence of a Kentucky horse farm that dates back to the 1890s. Leaded glass, Pewabic tile and a vintage mantelpiece saved from a Grosse Pointe estate are incorporated into the home. The close-knit, extended Krueger family taught themselves the fine and difficult craft of creating a slate roof in order to put a gray-green slate roof on the home — a reference to fine Grosse Pointe homes of the 1920s, such as the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House.

“They love all of the touches of historic Grosse Pointe, and they’ve incorporated those into the house,” Grigg said of the Kruegers. “They’ve built a structure that feels like it belongs here.”

But perhaps the most special part of the Krueger property is something motorists never get to see. The Kruegers, Chad’s parents Lynne and Gerald Krueger, and one of Chad Krueger’s siblings all own adjoining properties, and they’ve merged their backyards into what Grigg said is “a wonderful enclave” that includes a pool, walking paths, accessory buildings and a hockey rink in the winter, all of which are surrounded by mature trees.

“The thing that will absolutely blow people away is this shared backyard,” Grigg said.

Many members of the Krueger clan are musical, and during a special afterglow — for which tickets were limited and nearly sold out at press time — Lynne Krueger’s “Marquis de Riviere” Stradivarius violin will be showcased; a special, unnamed guest was slated to perform using the highly revered instrument. This violin was purchased in 1964 by Cleveland Orchestra Concertmaster Daniel Majeske, who owned and continued to play the instrument until his death in 1993. His son, Stephen, continued to play this violin until he retired. The instrument was sold to Lynne and Gerald Krueger in 2004.

Valerie Dodenhoff and Cathy Walker are the gala co-chairs.

But don’t let the title of “gala” fool you: This is no black-tie event. The dress code for the evening is “dressy casual,” and comfortable shoes are a must, said Grigg, pointing out that high heels won’t work for walking across the lawn.

“It’s comfortable and welcoming to everybody,” Grigg said. “You don’t have to have your nose in the air about it.”

Attendees of the tented party can expect open bars, hors d’oeuvres, a strolling supper, entertainment by the Royal Garden Trio, a complimentary portrait by photographer John Martin, a docent-guided tour of the home and valet parking.

In keeping with the unique character of the home, Grigg said they’ll have a display of more modern classic vehicles, from cars and trucks from the 1960s and 1970s to super-tuned vintage trucks that local residents have restored. He said visitors can expect to see “an outrageous collection of fun vehicles” while strolling the grounds.

“We try to make it welcoming to all kinds of people with all kinds of interests,” Grigg said of the gala.

Tickets to Summer on the Lake cost $150 per person, or $75 per person for those ages 29 and younger. For tickets or more information, visit www.gphistorical.org or call (313) 884-7010.