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  4. HGTV Star, Nicole Curtis Begins Renovation on Detroit’s Ransom Gillis Mansion
exteriorLast month, Quicken Loans, HGTV and the Brush Park Development Company announced plans to renovate iconic Ransom Gillis Mansion in Detroit’s Brush Park neighborhood as part of an eight-part Quicken Loans-sponsored HGTV special airing in November. The rehab is part of a much larger commitment to Brush Park by the Brush Park Development Company, which will oversee the development of more than 350 apartments and townhomes in the area by 2017.

Just a few weeks after the announcement, Nicole Curtis of HGTV’s hit show “Rehab Addict” and a team of construction pros have already started renovating the Victorian Gothic style mansion.

What was once a boarded up shell of a formerly great building is reopening and breathing new life into the Brush Park.

When Curtis’ team got to the mansion, most of the original features had been lost, or were in such disrepair that they were unable to be used. Although the renovation team was left with essentially an empty box, they were able to use most of the original brick structure.


“I’m going to use a lot of this bare brick. Because there wasn’t much of the original home left, I want to keep what I can in here,” Curtis said.

There are 11 fireplaces in the Ransom Gillis Mansion. Most of them don’t work, as time and neglect wore away at the chimney structure, but there is one original left mostly intact, with its beautiful marble mantle and panel detailing. This fireplace will be completely restored and tie in the historic elements of the house.

nicole and fireplace

Curtis, known for her historic preservation style with modern amenities, will carry her signature style into the gothic mansion, using materials that were readily available in the 1870s, when the home was built.

People shouldn’t expect to see drop ceilings and manufactured flooring. Curtis plans to keep the integrity of the original design with real hardwood floors, tall doorways and windows, bypassing the contemporary, open layout trend. There will still be clearly defined rooms, much like there was in the 1800’s.

“This will not look like a loft,” Curtis said.

Curtis’ preservationist style melds perfectly with what the Brush Park Development Company is looking for.

Melissa Dittmer, Director of Architecture & Design at Bedrock and a representative of the Brush Park Development Company, said, “[We] want to be thoughtful of the architecture and design. To keep Brush Park’s legacy with a design that doesn’t just mimic, but compliments, the history. We want to celebrate the past while looking forward to the future.”

Jay, Nicole and Melissa

The Ransom Gillis Mansion is the first of four historic mansions slated for preservation in Brush Park. There will also be plenty of new developments in a variety of styles and price points to encourage a diverse community just outside of downtown Detroit.

“The Brush Park Development will be Detroit’s first socially equitable, mixed-use development. We want to encourage diversity of housing and price points to promote social, economic and age diversity in the community,” said Dittmer.

According to Jay Farner, President and Chief Marketing Officer at Quicken Loans, this is a puzzle piece in the Detroit landscape that will connect the downtown with the immediate neighborhoods.

“You can’t look at what’s happening in Brush Park, next door in the Arena District, in Midtown, the M-1 Rail [or what goes] downtown and not see that Detroit is back,” Farner said.

The city is certainly moving forward!

To stay up to date on the Brush Park project, keep reading Zing! And don’t forget to tune into HGTV in November to see how the Brush Park transformation unfolded!

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