Sunday, March 21, 2010

Subdivision Stories: Tienken Manor Estates

In 1961, the plat for the first Tienken Manor Estates subdivision was approved by the Avon Township board, and streets and houses began appearing on the former dairy farm of John Tienken. The son of German immigrants and Avon pioneers Henry and Meta Tienken, John Tienken was born on his parents' Avon Township farm in 1864. He raised Holsteins on a farm in the northwest quarter of section 9, south of Tienken Road and west of Livernois, from which he supplied milk to the leading dairies of Detroit. Another of his agricultural ventures was the Rochester Creamery Company, a dairymens' cooperative of which he served as a director. For twenty-five years, John Tienken was also a member of the school board of the Ross School, which was located just north and west of his farm on the northeast corner of Tienken and Brewster Roads (the school building, now a private residence, still stands).

John Tienken died in 1944, and his heirs, including daughters Clarabell Kitchen and Etta Curran, eventually sold the farm for development. Tienken Manor Estates No.1 was the first of thirteen subdivisions to open, and the last was Tienken Manor Estates No.13, which was approved in 1974.

The builder of the homes in Tienken Manor was R & C - Robertson Builders of Birmingham, and the company advertised that the subdivision was the perfect mix of natural beauty and modern amenities. Streets curved to accommodate the natural rolling terrain, utilities were placed underground, and a private park was provided for the recreational benefit of the residents. Introductory models were priced at $21,900, including the lot. Today, there are 263 lots in the thirteen Tienken Manor subdivisions.

This photo from the collection of the Rochester Hills Public Library shows the John Tienken dairy farm, looking west along Tienken Road.


  1. I grew up in the "south end" of Tienken Manor, the subdivision with identity issues - Lochmoor Hills. Spending the first 10 or 15 years of its existence without a sign, we were always thought of as a part of Tienken Manor Sub. I can't remember where the park was though... although we had a sub lot that could access the lake. They made SURE that everyone knew that the "Tienken Manor kids" weren't allowed there on the lake though - it wasn't "theirs".

  2. I grew up in Goodison,MI. But when I was lived in Michigan; we used to travel that tienken road alot. But my question is this: Is that Tienken manor subdivision behind the North Hill Shopping Center area?

    Because i never new the name of that area. So this is why i am asking if all these homes were that subdivision.


  3. The Tienken Manor Estates subdivision was further down along Tienken Road, west of Livernois. The subdivision located directly behind the North Hill Shopping Center is called, appropriately enough, the North Hill subdivision. Watch for the history of the North Hill subdivision in a future "Subdivision Stories" post.

  4. The Robertson builders of the subdivision, run by Calvin "Cal" Robertson and his business partner Dick Cascaaden built their last house in the sub in 1969. In 1974 Vito Biondo and his VMC Construction Company, along with a few houses built by Wilseck Builders, finished the subdivision by 1976. This was "TienKen Manor Estates No. 13, which included Bridgestone north of Biggers, Biggers Ct. And Cobblestone Ct. On 22 acres. Two houses on N. Fieldstone were also built at this time. The subdivision had it's main entrance at Ironstone and Tienken Rd., complete with signs in black wrought iron letters "Tienken Manor Estates" on the fieldstone and brick walls. This entry way featured gas lights as well. Vandals removed many of the letters by 1970, and rather than relace them, they were removed. The community park was supposed to have been built at the south end of Ironstone, next to today's Brookwood Golf course, but was never built. The land was sold and the private street "Sargent Creek" was built. All streets in the sub ended in "stone", except Biggers. Biggers in Tienken Manor was originally named "Flagstone", but since it connected with exsisting Biggers Rd. In the Long Meadow subdivision, the township said it had to be named Biggers. Funny how when "basswood Dr." Was built in the early 70's, which also connects to Biggers, this rule was not enforced.

  5. Forgot to mention that the original "models" for Tienken Manor were at 15 and 16 Shagbark in Lochmoor Hills. This is at Walton Blvd. Tienken Rd. Was not paved until 1975 and this gave the builders better exposure on then 2-lane Walton. Robertson also "spot built" in Lochmoor Hills sub. One house on Tartan Dr., a spanish colonial on Lochmoor Lake near the intersection of Tartan and Shagbark was the Mitzelfeld's home. They owned a large department store in downtown Rochester for many years. Many of the Robertson homes can be identified by their "lighted" house numbers, which were installed for the "all-electric home" campaign of the 50s and 60s. The subdivision also had a community well providing water to its residents, located on the "park" property at the end of Ironstone. Detroit city water came through in the early 70s.

  6. Wow! looking at the picture of the Tienken farm, I noticed the five tall oak trees off to the left of the farm buildings. These are still there, behind two houses on Biggers. Robertson wanted to remove them, but the homeowners wanted them to stay.

  7. Thanks for all of the great additional information, Jim!

  8. We Grew up on Sandstone. it was an awesome Subdivisions to grow up in

  9. We lived at 820 Fieldstone and was one of the first houses on the street (build started 1961) and cost my parents $45,000.00 My dad pretty much designed the house (5 bedroom colonial); imagine his surprise when he went in one day to Cascaaden's office and saw his design being offered as a model.

    1. My mother told me today that our house, 820 Fieldstone Dr N, was the first 2-story house in the subdivision. No wonder Cascaaaden modeled my dad's plans!