EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 6, 2012

Scripps Mansion Tells Detroit’s Depressed Real Estate Tale


Syndicated —

Detroit is hardly lacking for symbols of its Great Recession free fall, but there's fresh evidence that the Detroit real estate market continues to be the most troubled in the United States.

While some regions are starting to report a bottom for housing prices, Detroit continues to offer some of its majestic past for just pennies on the dollar. That includes the grand old home once owned by the family of James Scripps - the man who founded in 1873 what is now the Detroit News.

Elaborate woodwork in the Scripps home. SOURCE: Curbed

According to Brian O'Connor, Detroit News Finance Editor, the wood paneling that adorns some of the walls at Scripps home in the historic Indian Village real estate market of Detroit looks a lot like the paneling inside the News headquarters. That makes sense, since the News building and Indian Village homes were built at the same time.

But whereas the News has been able to hang on despite the newspaper business downturn, the former Scripps home is in foreclosure, another symbol of Detroit's slide.

Now, for $195,000, a buyer can own the 12,000-square-foot home at 2535 Iroquois Street that has for a century stood as a stately reminder why Detroit of the Gilded Age was once called "The Paris of the West."

Taxes are the issue

According O'Connor, the city's fiscal woes haven't just hurt the list price of the Scripps home, but the home could be hit with higher taxes.

"Whoever buys this house may also get hit with a big jump in property taxes, thanks to a state amendment that limits how high taxes can rise on any one homeowner. Once the home is sold, however, the tax rate resets to the new price which, even now, can be more than the old limited value," O'Connor said.

With 6 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, the property needs work but has the grand space that would make it a worthy rehab project, given the library, family room and large entertainment hall. Who knows, maybe restoring this home would coincide with a Motor City comeback - although O'Connor offers a bleak forecast for Detroit's fiscal recovery, especially the real estate market.

James Scripps original home on Trumbull Ave., now burned down.

Other Scripps properties

Meanwhile, James Scripps' original mansion at Trumbull Ave. and Grand River Ave. burned down, leaving only a gated entrance. Among other public buildings left by James Scripps is the Detroit Institute of Art.

Scripps' son, William, went onto the embellish the family legacy, taking over the News and becoming an aviation buff and, in 1927, building the real Scripps Mansion - a mammoth Tudor-style mansion at 1840 W. Scripps Rd. in Lake Orion, MI.

The property remains on 45 acres of what was original 3,200 acres of sprawling farmland - so big that Amelia Earhart once used the Scripps' airstrip. In 2007, the Scripps Mansion was entered into the National Register of Historic Places.

Scripps Mansion in Lake Orion, MI, was built by James Scripps son, William, and is no longer open to the public. SOURCE: Wikipedia