Allan Zacharias Home

669 Virginia Park

My knowledge of this attractive home is thin. Peter Zacharias, born in Monroe County Michigan in 1847, attended schools in this state and then briefly lived in California. Similar to many other Michigan natives, he did not remain long on the Pacific Rim. By 1880 or so, he entered the wholesale and retail coal trade. Apparently he prospered so much that he purchased mines in southern Ohio. He often came to Detroit for his business and eventually decided to reside here in a home in Virginia Park. I am not sure which residence was his, but I believe that it was on the same block as the residence you see. He also entered the coal business in Detroit and, at one point in the early Twentieth Century, apparently owned more coal yards in the city than anybody else. Given that coal was the primary source of energy for factories and homes, he had a large market for his product. Peter Zacharias resided on Virginia Park until his death in 1922.

The home that you see, alas, is not the home of Peter Zacharias, but rather that of his son, Allan, who was born in Ann Arbor in 1875. I infer that the elder Zacharias invested in residential properties in Detroit, so it is possible that Peter Zacharias built this home. Or, perhaps, his son Allan built this home. I do not know anything about the career achievements of Allan Zacharias or his family.

Virginia Park was a planned residential development for upscale homes chartered in 1893. Most of the homes were completed by about 1912. The Allan Zacharias residence is within the Virginia Park Historic District that was listed with the National Register of Historic Places on February 2, 1980. This historic district includes both sides of Virginia Park from Woodward to the John Lodge Service Drive. Virginia Park is also a City of Detroit Designated Historic District.

Henry Tudor defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, ending the British civil war known as the War of the Roses. He had himself crowned as Henry VII and ruled England until 1509 when his son—the more well-known Henry VIII—became king. Tudor rule came to its end with the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603 after her 45-year reign.

At the end of the Nineteenth Century and linked to the emerging Arts and Crafts movement, a Tudor Revival style of architecture became briefly popular in the United States and England. What was presumed to be Tudor-style architecture was incorporated into plans for modest-sized buildings, including schools, residences—often called cottages—and chapels. The architects who designed homes in the Tudor Revival style often used brick at the lower level, but for the upper level they used decorative timbering; that is, exposed wood with white plaster in between. Roofs were typically steeply pitched and accompanied by prominent gables, often cross gables. Cross gables means that one roof would include gables pointing in opposite directions. Frequently, architects designed immense and visible chimneys with large chimney pots.

The Zacharias home illustrates some of the elements commonly found in Tudor Revival residences, but does not reveal exposed wood at the upper level. One of the greatest challenges for architects designing Tudor Revival home was to find wood that would endure harsh weather conditions. Since the Zacharias home was designed rather early in the Tudor Revival period, perhaps that problem had not been solved. You see a very steeply pitched roof with cross gables and two large and very visible chimneys. Presumably, these were basically decorative, and a home built by a coal merchant or by his son had a large coal stove in the basement. The architect incorporated an appealing set of attractive arches for the entryway and for windows at three levels. This is a carefully tended home with an exceptionally well-groomed yard.

Architect: Unknown to me
Date of Construction: 1909
Architectural style: Several Tudor Revival components are shown.
Use in 2007: Residential
Photograph: Ren Farley
Preparation of description: February, 2007

Return to Residences

Return to Homepage