Hurricane Ian makes landfall again, this time on South Carolina’s coast, after causing catastrophic damage in Florida

Berry Gordy's old home seeks $1.3M buyer to preserve history

Lauren Abdel-Razzaq
The Detroit News

Anyone with a love of Motown and a million dollars to spare should take heed: the Motown Mansion, longtime home of famed music producer Berry Gordy, is on the market.

The 10,500-square-foot Boston-Edison District home sits on 2.2 acres and is listed for $1.295 million, making it the second-most expensive house for sale in Detroit right now.

It costs a million more than many of the nearby houses, but none of those places are like this one, said agent Deborah Smith of Keller Williams Realty.

"We've had quite a bit of interest from potential buyers already and it hasn't even been listed 24 hours," said Smith. "We're very optimistic about securing that price and finding a buyer who appreciates the house and who wants to carry on that legacy."

The mansion was made famous by Gordy, founder of Motown Records, and once hosted the likes of Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross. The home was first built in 1929 by lumber baron and Detroit real estate icon Nels Michelson. It would later be the home of businessman Leonard A. Young, who started out making springs for the fledgeling auto industry and eventually added a golf company and a Hollywood movie studio to his list of companies.

Detroit lawyer Cynthia Reaves, the current owner previously put the home up for sale in 2010, listing it at nearly $1.3 million. This time around, said Smith, things have changed with the economy and the city, and that could encourage buyers to take the plunge.

"The market is much stronger," she said. "Obviously with the city of Detroit making their comeback from bankruptcy, a lot of the young executives are looking to move back into the city."

Reaves has completed an award-winning restoration of the home since she purchased it in 2002 and billed it as the "Motown Mansion." She kept as much of the original architecture and structure as possible.

The property is being sold "as-is." Which is to say it's a three-story Venetian Renaissance-style mansion with five fireplaces, seven dining areas, a private gym, wine cellar and a 4,400-square-foot pool house.

The main residence boasts 10 bedrooms, five full baths, four half baths, a library and stained glass windows. There's also a carriage house with its own house-sized apartment above.

Showings will be done for approved buyers by appointment only, said Smith. The house is located at 918 W. Boston.

Gordy was the owner until February 2002, when he transferred the property to Vintage LLC, a Los Angeles company, according to a quit claim deed filed with the Wayne County Register of Deeds. Nine months later, Vintage transferred ownership through a warranty deed to Reaves, who lived in Los Angeles at the time, according to the deeds.

After gaining ownership, Reaves took out two mortgages — one in November 2002 and another a year later — for a total of $700,000, according to the records.

As the Motown Mansion, the home was used to host social and political gatherings, including events for then-Sen. Barack Obama, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow.