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Col. Frank J. Hecker House

Col. Frank J. Hecker House
Location 5510 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, Michigan
Built 1888
Architect Louis Kamper
Architectural style Châteauesque
Governing body Private
Part of East Ferry Avenue Historic District,
Cultural Center Historic District (#80001921)
NRHP Reference # 71000427[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP September 03, 1971
Designated CP March 10, 1980
Designated MSHS February 19, 1958[2]

The Col. Frank J. Hecker House is a historic home that was built in 1888. It is located at 5510 Woodward Avenue (at the corner of East Ferry Avenue) in Midtown Detroit, Michigan.

It was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1958,[2] is a contributing property to the East Ferry Avenue Historic District and Cultural Center Historic District, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.[1] The house has been owned by Wayne State University since September 2014.[3]


  • Colonel Frank J. Hecker 1
  • Architecture 2
  • Later use 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6

Colonel Frank J. Hecker

  • Charfoos & Christensen, P.C.
  • "Plots produce bounty of riches," Michael H. Hodges and Joy Hakanson Colby, The Detroit News.
  • Article in "Curbed - Detroit"

External links

Further reading

  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Colonel Frank Hecker House from the National Park Service
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Hecker Home from
  6. ^ a b c d Mansion page at Charfoos & Christensen, P.C.
  7. ^ Col. Frank J. Hecker House from the City of Detroit.
  8. ^


In September 2014, Wayne State University purchased the house for $2.3 million.[3] The university intends to have its Alumni Relations Department staff there and use the building for alumni-related activities.

When Smiley died in 1990, the building was sold to Charfoos & Christensen, P.C., a law firm.[7] The firm rehabilitated the mansion, and it served as their law offices until 2014.[6] The mansion has also served as the Royal Danish Consulate in Detroit.[8]

In 1947, the mansion was sold to Paul Smiley[6] of the Smiley Brothers Music Company, who used it for musical instruction and practice, as well as a sales office.[4] During this time, both the Detroit Chamber Music Workshop and Women's Symphony started on the premises.[4]

Hecker lived in the home until his death in 1927.[6] For the next twenty years, the home was owned by the Hecker family, but operated as a boarding house for single college students.[6]

Carriage house of the Hecker House. The structure on the right is the carriage house of the Freer House next door.

Later use

The interior has 49 rooms, including a large oak-paneled hall designed for large parties, an oval dining room done in mahogany, a lobby done in English oak, and a white and gold music room.[5] The fireplaces were constructed of Egyptian Nubian marble, and onyx and Italian Siena marble were used in the vestibules.[5]

The exterior of the home has large turrets at the corners, and Flemish dormers in the steep hip roof.[5] Several bays project from the main body of the home, and wrapped around the whole is a balustraded, colonnaded loggia.[5] A carriage house in the rear is clearly visible from Woodward. At one point, this structure was converted into a concert hall capable of seating 200.[5]

In 1888, Hecker hired architect Louis Kamper and began construction of the mansion on Woodward Avenue, at the corner of Ferry. The house, with 21,000 square feet (1,951 m2), is an imposing example of French Châteauesque style based on the Château de Chenonceaux near Tours, France.[4] Hecker used his home to host elaborate parties, where he entertained luminaries such as presidents William McKinley and Rutherford B. Hayes.[4]



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