A home built by the man who founded the retailer which would become known as KMart built a 20,000 square foot house in Detroit in 1914. It is currently for sale for $3.25 million, which is 85 times what the average home price is in one of America’s poorest cities.
The Kresge mansion was built by Sebastian Spering Kresge, who started what would become one of the largest retailers in America–S. S. Kresge Company renamed KMart in 1977. Originally a hardware store clerk, he lived to be 99 years old, dying in 1966 as one of the richest men in America, worth $5 billion dollars when adjusted for inflation. He donated money to put up large buildings on campuses from Berkeley to Boston College. More than two dozen universities have buildings named for him.
Within the 20,000 square feet which make up the mansion, there are fourteen bedrooms, nine full baths, ten fireplaces, two indoor fountains, and a huge hidden room on the top floor. On the property, which stretches four acres, there are also two carriage houses with two bedrooms in each. Realtor.com reports that the owner since 1993 has restored virtually the entire house and property to its “original splendor”.
The house is located at 7 West Boston Blvd. in one of the few parts of Detroit which still have expensive, expansive homes built by industrialists and car executives between the start of the 20th Century and The Great Depression. The house is well north of downtown Detroit, close to Woodward Avenue, one of the main roads north into Detroit’s higher-income suburbs.
The median home price in Detroit is only $38,500. One in three properties in Detroit has been foreclosed on because of mortgage defaults, or back taxes. The city is in the midst of a program to tear down thousands of empty homes. Detroit has lost well over half its population since 1960 when it was one of the great industrial centers of the world. Over 34% of residents live below the poverty line.
Whoever buys the Kresge mansion may live in the most expensive houses in Detroit, in a neighbor which has retained much of its “original splendor”. However, it will be surrounded on every side by a city so poor than many of its homes have not been occupied for years.