Friday, December 18, 2009

Subdivision Stories: Belle Cone Gardens

The Belle Cone Gardens subdivision was laid out in Section 33 of Avon Township, along the Avon/Troy boundary, in late 1926 and early 1927. The development was part of a post-World War I building boom that exploded in southern Avon Township along the Auburn/South Boulevard corridor. Belle Cone was one of several subdivisions that transformed the farmlands of Avon into affordable housing lots for laborers in the Pontiac automobile factories.

The subdivision lies on land that was owned by one of Avon's pioneer settlers, Linus Cone, who first came to Michigan from points east in 1821, and purchased land in Section 33 of Avon Township in 1826. He met and married Mary Crooks (of the family for whom Crooks Road is named) in the following year, and the couple farmed their land and reared three sons there. Linus Cone was well-known in agricultural circles for espousing modern farming theories and practices, and he also served for a time as editor and publisher of the Michigan Farmer. He lived on his farm in Avon until his death in 1875; the property eventually passed into the hands of his son, Frederick W. Cone, and then later to Frederick's widow, Annabelle "Belle" Cone.

In October 1926, the first of three plats for the development known as Belle Cone Gardens was filed on behalf of Belle Cone and several investors. The names of the subdivision streets reflect the names of the project's investors and developers. Belle Cone's partners were Detroit real estate broker Leslie J. Leinbach and his wife Grace; Leslie Leinbach's partner, Harry B. Leinbach, and his wife Rose; Mildred D. Decker; and Samuel W. Smith and his wife Alida DeLand Smith. Belle Cone Gardens includes streets named for the Cone family, Grace Leinbach, Mildred Decker, Alida DeLand Smith, and Samuel W. Smith.

Samuel W. Smith is another prominent figure connected to Belle Cone Gardens. Smith served as prosecuting attorney of Oakland County, was a member of the Michigan legislature, and served in the United States House of Representatives from 1897 to 1915. During his years in Congress he was known as a champion of the extension of rural free mail delivery.

The Belle Cone Gardens subdivision is 83 years old this year.

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