Rehab Addict History Lesson: 8 Things to Know About Detroit's Ransom Gillis House

See why the Rehab Addict team thought this 1876 Detroit home was worthy of a massive renovation.

Front House exterior. Nicole Curtis recreated what she envisioned the exterior ooked like at the Ransom Gillis House.

Photo by: Eric Klang

Eric Klang

Nicole Curtis loves a structure with a story. The Ransom Gillis House, which she renovated for her new show Rehab Addict: Detroit, definitely fits this description. Overflowing with rich history, what was once a crumbling building in Detroit is now a perfect blend of old and new. It’s hard to imagine this magnificent home wasn’t treated like a true treasure. Fact is, though, it wasn’t always given the attention it deserves. Read on to learn more about this home's rich history.

It's been a Detroit landmark during three centuries.

Built between 1876 and 1878, the house was designed by Henry T. Brush and George D. Mason. It was built for a man named Ransom Gillis, a wholesale dry goods merchant. 

It was the equivalent of a million-dollar home in its day.

The house was built for just $12,000 – the equivalent of $1.8 million today! Including both prep work and actual construction, the house took a year and a half for completion. Boasting 4,800-square-feet, the house was considered a mansion at that time.

The house was the first of its kind.

The Ransom Gillis House was the first Venetian Gothic style of architecture in Detroit. This design was made famous by the book The Stones of Venice by John Ruskin. Ransom Gillis sold the property in 1880 and from then until 1919, the house was bought and sold, and bought and sold by many upper-class Detroit families. 

The Ransom Gillis carriage house was home to five Detroit businesses.

The carriage house behind the structure throughout the years was home to an auto repair shop, a battery service shop, a filling station, a restaurant and a pottery studio.

The property fell into disrepair and became city property.

It remained unoccupied from the mid-1960s. As of 2001, the property was owned by the City of Detroit.

The renovations proved too difficult and costly for three former owners.

Renovation attempts were made in the 1970s, 1980s and mid-2000s. The roof was replaced in 2007, but renovations stalled until HGTV and Rehab Addict took over. 

Before the Renovation

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Take a tour of the property before HGTV's massive renovation. 

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The renovated home nods to the carriage house history.

Front House tile work at the entry and base of the staircase. Nicole Curtis recreated what she envisioned the stairs looked like at the Ransom Gillis House.

Photo by: Lauren Ariel Noess

Lauren Ariel Noess

Pewabic Pottery, founded in the carriage house of Ransom Gillis in 1903, is still made locally in Detroit and is well-known for its signature irridescent glaze. To commemoriate its connection with the house, the company crafted a commemorative plaque to sit just inside the Ransom Gillis doorway. 

Today, it's finally back to its 1870s splendor.

After more than a 100 years, this home is restored to its original glory. 

Tour the Renovated House

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Flip through photos of the home's stunning makeover. 

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