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Inside the renovation of the J.D. Baer House

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50 years in the making

Michelle & Chris Gerard

If you’ve driven through Woodbridge down Trumbull, there’s no doubt that the J.D. Baer House is a standout among incredibly unique homes. Empty for 50 years, developer Alex Pereira bought the house in 2015, and has been working to give it new life. He’s hoping to have it done by December or January, and we have a sneak peek inside this big house with the gold turret and giant porch.

First, we thought you might like to see some pictures of what the house has looked like. The house was designed by Almon C. Varney for John D. Baer in 1888. This first one is from the Burton Historical Collection, date unknown. But you can see farmland behind.

Burton Historical Collection; Detroit Public Library

And this is what it looked like when Pereira bought it in 2015.

The house is 4,500 square feet, and Pereira is converting it into five residential units and a garden-level retail space that has an additional 1,500 square feet. When you go into the garden-level space, you can see where the original foundation was. The walls have been cleaned, and they’re seeking a tenant for a commercial space. It has room for a small kitchen, so it could be a cafe or coffee shop (or something else, if anyone out there is creative). But Pereira really wants to find something that can serve Woodbridge, which has a lot of residential but not a lot of retail.

When Pereira bought the house, it wasn’t structurally sound, so foundation work had to be done first. He loved the house because much of the woodwork was intact, and many original details remain. Many of the windows were kept and rebuilt, except for new ones in the attic and garden level. A few stained-glass windows will be going in the turret and elsewhere. They had to rebuild the porch completely, which is now bigger than the original. All systems have been replaced and the house is being prepped for Rocket Fiber. Insulation is in place, with six inches in the studio attic space, insuring good heating and cooling for that unique space.

Of the five units, there’s one two-bedroom, three one-bedrooms, and the studio. The turret apartment will have a bit of an awkward layout, but the tenant can claim the turret as home. Pereira is hopeful for a winter completion date. Believe us, we’ll be back. Here’s a look inside.

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