[graphic header] Detroit: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary, National Park Service


The upper middle-class Victorian homes that comprise the West Canfield Historic District date back to the 1870s when Detroit's burgeoning population began pushing at the edges of the city's original boundaries. Located some two miles from Detroit's central business district, the West Canfield Avenue area's original plat specified that each lot would be a spacious 50 by 190 feet, and that there would be "a 30 foot setback for sidewalk, shrubbery, and ornamental purposes." By the late 1870s, the area was populated by the families of retail owners, manufacturers, doctors, dentists, and architects -- professional men who possessed the economic means to build homes on West Canfield Avenue's relatively large city blocks. Construction of high-quality brick Queen Anne homes continued into the 1880s, and reflecting the alleged social and moral character of Victorian professionals, city histories of the time referred to the West Canfield neighborhood as "Piety Hill." Into the 20th century, professionals continued to live in the neighborhood, but as the automobile propelled the development of outlying suburbs around Detroit, West Canfield Avenue fell into decline. In the 1970s, as nearby Wayne State University began investing millions in infrastructure, the houses of the newly designated West Canfield Historic District experienced revitalization, and began undergoing restorations that continue up to the present. Today, with its excellent examples of Victorian building styles, the West Canfield Avenue Historic District is once again a picturesque block of 1870s Queen Anne houses.

The West Canfield Historic District is located on West Canfield Avenue between Second and Third Streets, two blocks west of Woodward Avenue. The buildings of the West Canfield District are private residences and not open to the public.

West Canfield Historic District Looking east on West Canfield Avenue

  West Canfield Historic District West Canfield Queen Anne Townhouses
Photographs courtesy of the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office

Previous Site | Detroit Map | Detroit Itinerary Home | Next Site

Last Modified: EST
Comments or Questions