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Remembering the homes of the Generals

  • Published
  • By Penny Carroll
  • 127th Wing

     People at Selfridge Air National Guard Base are often astounded by the beautiful architecture of the empty family housing units across from the Selfridge Golf Course.  The stately homes have been vacant for years and are the last units standing at the base.  There are no plans to rehabilitate or reutilize them, however, people cannot help but envision them in all their glory of years ago, filled with families who once lived at the 105-year-old base.

     In 1931, work ended on the first and largest segment of the 400 Area Housing, commonly referred to as Officer Housing, which amounted to thirty-six units of three and four bedroom dwellings.  Each of the three-bedroom houses, initially intended for company grade officers, had approximately 2,700 square feet and cost about $13,000 to build.  This was nearly $1,000 less than the cost of the four-bedroom, field grade officers’ quarters.

     The houses erected in the first and second phases of the 400 Area’s construction are similarly styled, center entrance Georgian revival buildings distinguished mainly by their pedimented ionic entrances. The houses built in the third phase are distinctly different.  Ten company grade officer quarters, distinguished by prominent dormers on their second floors, were built as “Cape Cods.” These also had detached garages and were completed in 1934.

     The rest of the houses are in the Greek revival style. These are particularly marked by circular attic windows and inlaid arches over off-center front entrances. Six company grade officer quarters of this design were finished in 1935.  These houses had 2,300 square feet and an attached garage.

     In 2005, Base Realignment and Closure brought the closure of the U.S. Army Garrison-Detroit at Selfridge.  When the Garrison moved to the Detroit Arsenal in Warren, the Michigan Air National Guard gained control over the property and houses at Selfridge.  Since the Michigan Air National Guard does not have a funding mechanism nor a mission authority to operate housing, the homes were all vacated at the end of fiscal year 2008.

     None of the houses at Selfridge were ever built specifically for generals, but two of the homes (409 and 424) were later designated as general officer quarters.

     Building 409 overlooks Lake St. Clair. Completed in January 1935, it cost $14,600 and has 3,187 square feet.  This house appears to be the only unit in the 400 area ever used for a purpose other than family housing. During World War II the attached garage was converted to a fifth bedroom with bath, and the home was then used to house nurses.

     Sometime after, the unit reverted back to officer quarters.  In 1977 Major General Decker and his family moved into the house. Since then, only generals’ families lived there. 

     In 2015, the house was renovated and it is now called the Enlisted Heritage House.  The EHH was established to preserve the enlisted heritage at Selfridge. The house is the only 400 area home currently in use. Team Selfridge members use the house for meetings, promotion boards, training and various social activities.

     After standing empty for many years, and with numerous expensive renovation unknowns-namely asbestos and lead, these nostalgic homes have been deemed uninhabitable. They are slated for demolition in the future. Nevertheless, people cannot help but imagine these homes in all their former splendor.