The original house sat on 2.3 acres of land bordering on Woodward Avenue to tie immediate East. The original drive came into the property on the south side of the house and wound its way around the ravine house effectively straddles, treating the visitor to virtually every possible view until he or she arrived at the main entrance on the North side. Available photographs show the ravine free of underbrush with substantial views to house from virtually any point on the site, and from the house to the small pond that lies between the house and Woodward Avenue.
While the grounds immediately adjacent to the house have been mowed to create a small lawn, the ravine itself had been long neglected and was heavily overgrown and at the start of the site restoration efforts views of the pond from the house were impossible due to heavy underbrush and a large number of downed trees.
While some of the original land had long been sold off to accommodate adjacent development, the original drive remains in place, although it has not been extended back to Woodward Avenue to create a full loop. That short drive from the north entry to Woodward Avenue is now the main entry drive, depriving the visitor of the circuitous and the views it engenders. Nevertheless, it is possible to restore those views and that experience.
A small group of volunteers, gloves, garden tools, a chipper and a couple of chain saws set about to remedy that circumstance.
This view is to the house from the Northeast. The entire site was heavily overgrown and was thick with underbrush. When the brush is fully leafed out it is impossible to see the house from this angle, and it is impossible to see to the pond (to the immediate left in this photo) from the house.
The first clean-up in the fall of 2012 concentrated on cleaning the artesian wellhead on the West side of the property, trimming back the overgrown shrubs on the berm to the North, the trees lining the drive to the East, and part of the slope to the South. With the immediate area surrounding the house under some control, in the Spring of 2013 a volunteer group attacked the underbrush in the ravine.
At the conclusion of the 2013 Spring clean up our group had cleared and stacked the underbrush and the downed trees in the ravine from the house, East to the pond. The Fall effort will continue the clearing up the North and South slopes to the adjacent roads, completing the majority of brush clearing and restoring the original views to and from the house
Seeking Professional Help
Unfortunately, given the duration of the neglect, despite the efforts, there were limits on what a volunteer group can safely accomplish with regular homeowner and garden tools. There were also a number of large standing dead trees on the site, at least one of which threatened the house. In addition, one large tree had grown precipitously close to the terrace (indeed, had arched substantially over the house) such that its removal was also necessary.
At that point, we engaged the services of some boys with far better toys than we had.
Not to mention a lot more guts
While our chipper handled most of the small branches, theirs was capable of chipping a Volkswagen if you could figure out how to lift it up and throw it in. They made short work of the waste disposal. The biggest part of any job it seems is having access to the right tool.
The Results . . . . . .
Due to the extenisive photographic materials we have available from the library of Balthazar Korab, Hon. AIA, we know what the condition of the landscaping was and the views to and from the house were as it was originally constructed. The original views to the house from the pond and from the house to the pond have been restored. The next work day in the fall of 2013 should complete the restoration to the North and to the South.
Frederick F. Butters, PLLC Attorney at Law 26677 West 12 Mile Road, Southfield, Michigan 48034
(248) 357-0831 (248) 357-0832 (fax)
All Rights to Original Work Reserved Copyright, 2013