According to the December 23, 1919 Detroit News, then Mayor of Detroit James Couzens chose to honor his wife’s birthday with a $450,000 donation to build an annex to the Michigan Hospital School for Crippled Children in Farmington. The paper included what must have been an early architectural elevation of the planned annex. As we know now, this rendering by architect Albert Kahn was not the final design. But the final design was equally architecturally impressive.
In 1919, then Mayor of Detroit James Couzens made a charitable gift of $1,100,00 as a birthday present to his wife for the construction and establishment of an endowment fund for the school and to build an annex to the Michigan Hospital School.
World renowned architect Albert Kahn was commissioned by Mr. Couzens to design the facility. The January 20, 1922 Farmington Enterprise announced the new Albert Kahn-designed building — the first of two which remain on the Botsford Commons campus today. That building’s keystone rests today above the door of what is now Botsford Senior Living Center. The stately building offers a fine example of traditional Albert Kahn style — the slate roof, 5 original fireplaces, and Pewabic Pottery inlays (both on the building’s exterior and in the fireplace surrounds).
A Sanford Fire Insurance map dated 1926 clearly labels the white stucco-type building as “old building” and this first Albert Kahn building as “new building.”
Research by the Walter P. Reuther Library Archive Team at Wayne State University turned up the date of the second of the two Albert Kahn-designed buildings as 1927. An amazing visit on October 13, 2008 with a woman born on teh campus in 1927 confirmed the date for the 2nd Kahn building.
We suspect the first hospital building on the campus, which appears on early aerial photos as a stucco-type structure, is the hospital constructed at the request of Ms. Blanche Van Leuven Browne. Ms. Browne already operated the Van Leuven Browne Hospital School in Detroit. The February 2, 1917 Farmington Enterprise discusses Ms. Van Leuven Browne’s purchase of Fred Goers’ farm, and indicates the Farmington hospital was to be constructed “right away.”
A later article (1922) discussing then Detroit Mayor James Couzens’ involvement with the Farmington campus and indicates this first building was operated as the Michigan Hospital School for Crippled Children. This is also confirmed in the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Collection at Wayne State University’s Walter Reuther Library.