The Detriot mansion built for S. S. Kresge, founder of the KMart store chain
The mansion built by Sebastian Spering Kresge, who started what would become one of the largest retailers in America hit the market a couple months ago.
According to Wikipedia, following his graduation, S.S. (as he was known) clerked in a hardware store for two years, then worked as a traveling salesman from 1892 to 1897. On March 20, 1897, Kresge began working for James G. McCrory, the founder of J.G. McCrory’s, at a five and ten cent store in Memphis, Tennessee. He worked there for two years.
In 1899 Kresge founded his own company, with Charles J. Wilson, with an $8,000 investment in two five-and-ten-cent stores; one was in downtown Detroit, Michigan, for which he traded ownership in McCrory’s. In 1912, he incorporated the S.S. Kresge Company with 85 stores. The company was first listed on the New York Stock Exchange on May 23, 1918. During World War I, Kresge experimented with raising the limit on prices in his stores to $1.
In 1923, he started a new company, buying out a large traditional department store in Newark, New Jersey. He renamed the store Kresge-Newark, expanded it, and started branch stores. The new department store company was completely independent from the S.S. Kresge discount department store company. By 1924, Kresge was worth approximately $375 million ($5.6 billion in 2019 dollars) and owned real estate of the approximate value of $100 million. ($1.5 billion in todays dollars)
In 1924, Kresge established The Kresge Foundation, a non-profit organization whose income he specified simply “to promote the well-being of mankind”. By the time of his death, Kresge had given the foundation over $60 million. A strongly committed prohibitionist, he organized the National Vigilance Committee for Prohibition enforcement and also heavily supported the Anti-Saloon League financially, though he later stopped contributions.
He opened the first Kmart in 1962 in Garden City, Michigan. (K in Kmart for Kresge) Four years later Kresge died. In 1977, the S. S. Kresge Corporation changed its name to the Kmart Corporation. In 2005, Sears Holdings Corporation became the parent of Kmart and Sears, after Kmart bought Sears, and formed the new parent.
While alive, Kresge donated money to put up large buildings on campuses from Berkeley to Boston College. More than two dozen universities have buildings named for him.
S.S. Kresge lived to be 99 years old, dying in 1966 as one of the richest men in America, worth $39.5 billion dollars when adjusted for inflation.
More about the mansion from the listing description – Welcome to the grand Mediterranean Revival home, known as Kresge mansion! Available for the 1st time in 25 years, at more than 20, 000 sq ft, it’s one of Detroit’s largest mansions and sits on what’s believed to be the city’s largest residential lot of almost 4 acres. Since it’s purchase in 1993, owners have been restoring the mansion and its grounds to it’s original splendor. A long elegant hall runs down the center. Across the front is the living room, music room, grand entrance, dining room, breakfast room & a large solarium. Features include 14 bedrooms, 9 full baths, 10 fireplaces, 2 indoor fountains, ornate ceilings, marble floors & a large hidden room on the 3rd floor. 2 carriage houses are in back, each with a 2 bedroom apartment. Koi ponds are scattered throughout the vast 4 acre lot with a different outdoor room around each turn, outlined in trees, shrubs, hostas & flowers. This one truly cannot be missed! Call today to schedule your private showing! Just $3,250,000.
The house is located on West Boston Blvd. in one of the few parts of Detroit which still have expensive, expansive homes built by industrialists and car executives between the start of the 20th Century and The Great Depression.
The next two mansions when going west were designed by Albert Kahn for members of the B. Siegel family. Benjamin Siegel was founder of one of Detroit’s finest women’s apparel stores, B. Siegel. The most prominent of 8 locations stood at 1075 Woodwood Ave in Detroit. After several bouts with bankruptcy throughout the early 1980s, they closed the main downtown location in January 1985 after water pipes burst. An attempt to revive the brand and the downtown store failed. On Feb. 22, 1990, the building was destroyed by fire and demolished a few days later.
Right down the street (2 blocks) you will find the mansion best known as the Motown Mansion or the mansion of Motown founder Barry Gordy. The Barry Gordy mansion was sold back in 2017 and is probably the best known mansion in the area. An article was done on the Gilded Age mansion once the home to Barry Gordy a couple of months ago that can show and tell you more about this. If interested in all the photos of when it was listed, go to the Barry Gordy mansion in Detroit
Detroit is a great place to find an inexpensive nice home rght now. The median home price there is only $38,500. One in three properties in Detroit has been foreclosed on because of mortgage defaults, or back taxes. Right now the city is in the midst of a program to tear down thousands of empty homes. Detroit has lost well over half its population since 1960 when it was one of the great industrial centers of the world. Over 34% of residents live below the poverty line. As you can see in a few of the images below, many of the homes in the immediate area surrounding these mansions have been removed, leaving open yards dotting the landscape. We just hope Detroit can find a way to come back to the grand old days like it was during the start of the 20th century. It really is a great historic town worth saving.
Thank you to Wikipedia.com and 247WallSt.com for some of the information in this article. Also thank you to Realtor.com and Google Maps for the images.
See all the listing photos (99 images) in a larger size at S.S. Kresge (Sebastian Spering Kresge) Mansion in Detriot
To read more about restoring the S.S. Kresge mansion.