12 beautiful gems for auction in historic neighborhoods

8109 E. JeffersonDetroit’s historic neighborhoods are lined with some of the most majestic homes in the country.

From sprawling tudors to elegant Victorians, many of the homes were designed by prominent architects from the late 19th century to 1925.

Once selling for six figures, the houses are on the auction block for as low as a few thousand dollars. They’re among nearly 20,000 houses listed in the Wayne County tax-foreclosure auction, the first phase of which ends this week between Monday and Thursday. Houses that don’t sell by the deadline will be sold at bids starting at $500.

Most of the houses below have no bids yet. For a host of information about each property up for bid, check out www.whydontweownthis.com, an incredibly resourceful site for anyone interested in homeownership in Detroit.

The Boston-Edison Historic District includes more than 900 homes, mostly built between 1905 and 1925. The houses range from massive mansions to modest two-story vernaculars. Former residents included Henry Ford, James Couzens, Charles T. Fisher and Sebastian Kresge.

917 Edison

917 Edison, Min. bid $12,000. Built in 1911. Sold for $92,500 in 2007.

56 Longfellow

56 Longfellow,  Min. bid $17,500. Built in 1903. Sold for $95,000 in 2009.

1546 Chicago

1546 Chicago, Min. bid $12,100. Built in 1915. Last sold for $8,500 in 1976.

Atkinson Avenue Historic District is just south of Boston-Edison and consists of six blocks between the Lodge and Linwood. It was one of the few inclusive neighborhoods that didn’t prohibit black people from owning homes in the early 20th century.  It became a hub for the middle-class and remains so today. The district’s most famous former resident was Tigers star Ty Cobb.

1965 Atkinson

1965 Atkinson, Min. bid $18,900. Built 1921. Sold for $65,000 in 2006.


1634 Atkinson

1634 Atkinson, Min. bid $11,5000. Built in 1920. Sold for $7,700 in 1990.

2326 Atkinson1

2326 Atkinson, Min. bid $10,700. Built in 1919. Last sold for $39,900 in 1989.

2446 Atkinson

2446 Atkinson, Min. bid: $48,800. Built in 1918. Sold for $110,000 in 2007.

Virginia Park Historic District was created in the late 20th century as an enclave for the upper-middle class. The architecture is very diverse, from Neo-Georgian to Arts and Crafts. The homes were built on relatively small lots, making the neighborhood compact but cozy.

730 Virginia Park

730 Virginia Park, Min. bid $11,700. Sold for $114,000 in 2002.

Indian Village Historic District is one of most well-known neighborhoods in Detroit, consisting of three east-side blocks – Seminole, Iroquois and Burns. Many of the houses are larger than 12,000 square feet and feature designs by Albert Kahn and Louis Kamper, among others. The styles range from Colonial Revival to Neo-Renaissance.

2415 Seminole

2415 Seminole, Min. bid $33,200. Built in 1912. Gorgeous home. Six bedrooms.

West Village Historic District is a walkable neighborhood of 20 blocks just west of Indian Village, containing 275 homes, 20 apartment buildings and about two dozen businesses. In the early 20th century, the area attracted upper-middle class residents. The architectural styles are diverse, from Colonial Revival to American Queen Anne.

8109 E. Jefferson

8109 E. Jefferson, Min. bid $83,000. Once a house, the building is now used as office space. It has 16,000 square feet and gabled roof.

1071 Van Dyke

1071 Van DykeMin. Bid $8,500. Built in 1911.

East Grand Boulevard was one of the premier neighborhoods in the early 20th century, lined with large homes and distinct apartment buildings.

585 E. Grand Blvd

585 E. Grand Blvd. Min. bid $13,600. Built in 1922. Last for $34,000 in 1989.

Check back for continuing coverage of the tax-foreclosure auction. Other stories in this series include:


Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.