Although Mr. Gordy lived in California, he continued to own and maintain the Residence, retaining it for his visits to Detroit. In the Winter of 2002, Berry Gordy sold the residence to current owner, Cynthia F. Reaves.
Ms. Reaves was born in Detroit in April 1962. She is a nationally known tax attorney who specializes in working with non-profit organizations. Ms. Reaves also provides advice and counsel to non-profit, tax-exempt charities and foundations. She is a noted author of several treatises on exempt organization law and is active in her community, having served on the boards of several private and public institutions, including Marygrove College in Detroit. She was appointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm to serve on the board of the Michigan Land Bank Authority.
Under Ms. Reaves’ ownership, the property underwent an extensive restoration. She was awarded the Governor’s Award for Historic Restoration for the “meticulous restoration” of the residence. Ms. Reaves now seeks to pass the mantle to a new owner who will continue to improve the property and carry on its legacy as one of the premiere properties in the City of Detroit.
918 W Boston Blvd
After Michelson’s death, the home was sold to Leonard Augustus (L.A.) Young. Mr. Young, who was 48 years old at the time he purchased the home, built his fortunes in the automotive industry. He began his career with the New Jersey Car Spring and Rubber Company. He advanced through the industry by designing various automotive spring devices. During his career, he held more than 70 patents for his inventions. He eventually purchased the failing Detroit Wire Spring Company which was producing his Royal Arch cushion spring. The company was renamed the L.A. Young Spring and Wire Corporation.
After purchasing the residence from the Michelson estate, Young hired R.E. Bingman and E.I. Davidson, Architects of Detroit, Michigan to design several renovations. L.A. Young added the bronze front and rear entry doors, ornately carved marble fireplace mantel, custom designed light fixtures, the marble fountains and marble fountains and ballrooms. In addition, he added the Athletic building complete with a pool, bowling alley and gymnasium. He also had the original carport enclosed to add the dining room. L.A. Young died in 1964 in Miami, Florida.
The primary residence was built by Nels Michelson in 1917. Michelson was born in Denmark on November 25, 1840 and immigrated to the United States in 1866. After working in the lumber industry for two years, he and a partner started a business transporting logs to other parts of country. Their business failed two years later. Undaunted, Nels Michelson started a new business by purchasing land with pine trees. He cut and sold the pine and eventually grew his business and moved to Grayling, Michigan in 1878. He formed the Michelson and Hanson Lumber Company in 1889 and served as its president. The company flourished and allowed Michelson to acquire thousands of acres of land in northern Michigan. By 1906, he had formed the Grayling Lumber Company and, seeing the expansion taking place in Detroit, he organized the Michelson Land and Home Company. Through this company, he purchased over 1,000 acres of land near the city limits on Woodward and, with his son, began developing what is now the City of Ferndale. In 1917, 77 year old Michelson built the home at 918 West Boston Boulevard. He and his family moved in the following year. The intricate woodwork throughout the home is reflective of Mr. Michelson’s ties to the lumber industry. His love of family is also shown in many of the stained glass designs that portray his children. Nels Michelson passed away in March 1925. His funeral services were held at the home.
Nels michelson estate in boston-edison historic district
Mr. Gordy made a significant financial investment in the Residence, including a complete renovation of the kitchen. During the period that Mr. Gordy owned the property, the residence was the site of many fabulous parties, many of which featured Motown artists. In the early 70’s, Gordy pulled up stakes in Detroit and relocated the multi-million dollar operation to Los Angeles.
The third owner of the residence was Steve “Pablo” Davis. Mr. Davis was an American artist, community activist and community organizer. He was a member of the team of artists who worked with Diego Rivera on the “Detroit Industry” mural displayed at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The property was then sold in 1967 to Motown Records founder, Berry Gordy, Jr.
Berry Gordy was born in Detroit in 1929. He began his career working in an auto plant while writing songs at night. Through his hard work and song-writing partnerships, Mr. Gordy started his own label which eventually grew to the world renowned Motown Records. Motown became home to artists like Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, the Supremes, the Four Tops and Stevie Wonder.