The Charles S. Comey Residence by Alden B. Dow
In a letter written to Alden B. Dow in November 1950, C. S. Comey asked for a home that was “cozy, not too large, as there are but two of us, not so young.” He wanted ease and economy of maintenance, cheerfulness and lightness, and “a large bedroom on the lake side with lots of light.” By March 1951, the architect had completed an exceptional color pencil presentation drawing that included an exterior view of the house along with a furnished floorplan.
Although several features of the design did not meet the requirements of the subdivision, including the 7 foot ceiling height and the low roof, approval was ultimately granted by the Planning Commission of St. Clair Shores. Located just steps from Lake St. Clair, the tan brick home is topped by a nearly flat roof with a 2 foot wide wood cornice that extends around the entire structure. Above the flat roof at the entrance, a band of clerestory windows rises on the south side. The deeply-recessed entry is balanced by a one-car garage next to it.
The U-shaped floor plan wraps around an open courtyard. Immediately to the left of the entry is the living room with exposed brick walls, a raised brick hearth, and built-in sofa. The ceiling of the living room is composed of translucent plastic panels between wood joists that let in the natural light from the clerestory windows above.
The dining room, galley kitchen, and a workroom sit along one side of the courtyard, while two bedrooms, a dressing room, and a bathroom line up along the opposite side of the house. Cork flooring is used throughout the interior except for the bathrooms. The casework is edge grain fir and fir plywood.
After living in their home for a few months, the Comeys sent a Christmas note to Mr. Dow. “I had to take time out of this busy season to tell you how much we like our beautiful home. We really believe, Alden, that this should be one of your prizes; to us it certainly is.”