Detroit's other village

East English Village presents its first home tour

By Jason A. Michael

Unless you're a longtime east-sider, you might not be familiar with Detroit's East English Village neighborhood. If ever you've the occasion to visit, however, its charm will undoubtedly embrace you quickly. And if you're in the market for a new home, you just might want to schedule a visit for Sunday, Oct. 11, when the neighborhood hosts its first home tour.

"The reason for the tour is to encourage people to move here, and to show off the houses that are in foreclosure," said David Teeter, who has lived in the neighborhood with his partner, Michael Ameloot, since 2002.

"We have a number of houses here that have lost their owners and they're a great deal, and we want to encourage families to move in - and I mean families in the broadest sense of the word."

Defined by Cadieux, Outer Drive, Mack and Harper on the city's far-east side, East English Village comes with some great amenities.

"We're right next to Grosse Pointe," said Teeter, whose garden will be part of the upcoming tour. "We can walk to the restaurants on Mack, and we have our own farmer's market."

For Teeter and Ameloot, who celebrate their 10th anniversary this year, it was the neighborhood's affordability that first caused them to explore the possibility of living there when they moved into their first home together.

Ameloot was hoping to stay near Ferndale, where he had lived before, and the couple began their search for a new home by visiting the Sherwood Forrest and Green Acres neighborhoods in the Woodward Corridor.

"The quality of the house that we were able to find for less money here was really significant," Ameloot explained.

Each house on the couple's block comes with its own unique character, including the home across the street, which is one of several in the area that has recently been foreclosed upon.

"They were great owners," Teeter said of their former neighbors. "They kept up their yard. They even won the holiday decorating contest last year. And then all of a sudden, they were gone."

"A lot of homes, the foreclosures, may be a little more fixer-uppers, but there's a lot of potential to them," Ameloot added.

To demonstrate the design possibilities, one house will be treated as a "showroom" with new furnishings provided by home decor vendors McLaughlin Furniture, Elegance by Design and Hagopian World of Rugs. Occupied residences will serve as check-in and rest stops so that tour participants can meet current neighbors. In addition, several East English Village homes that feature gardens that exhibit creative landscapes and planting varieties will welcome visitors. There will also be live music and refreshments in the gardens. Teeter and Ameloot's garden will among those featured.

"The garden was actually one of the things that excited us when we looked at the house the first time," Ameloot said.

The previous owners had designed a more high maintenance type of garden than the busy couple had time for, however, and last year they took on a complete redesign, including the installation of an underground watering system.

"We went to a landscaper we found in Between The Lines, Bob Porter of Landscape Artisans," said Ameloot.

The garden features a Japanese maple and loads of colorful foliage, including a stunning new breed of begonia. At the far end of the garden is one of the new additions, a pond-less water feature.

"We call the water feature Stonehenge," Ameloot said with a laugh.

"It turned out to be larger than we anticipated," explained Teeter.

"It definitely makes a statement."

At the end closest to the house, the stone patio is a great place to enjoy a romantic summertime dinner. Above the patio is a pergola crawling with wisteria.

"When we first came to see the house, the wisteria was blooming and I still say that's why we bought it," said Teeter. "We like to play with the garden, plant different things and see what works. We're trying to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. We haven't done so well with the hummingbirds."

"They come by every now and then," said Ameloot. "We know they're in the neighborhood."

Other homes in the village feature similarly impressive gardens. There's a clematis specialist in the neighborhood that features a sculpture garden in her yard alongside a multitude of the flowers. There's also a couple that do organic gardening in their yard, which they then sell at the neighborhood farmer's market.

A printed guide will direct visitors from house to house and provide them with other neighborhood information. During the tour, participants may visit the Historic Alger Theater on East Warren Avenue at East Outer Drive, which has been closed for many years. An afterglow at the Cadiuex Cafe will feature Belgian featherbowling. All activities are free to the public.

For more information on the tour, which is presented by the East English Village Homeowners Association and the Next Detroit Neighborhood Initiative, call 313-938-9156.

EEV Home Tour

1-5 p.m. Oct. 11

East English Village, Detroit

313-938-9156

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