HISTORIC MICHIGAN: The Creep Who Built a Castle
The huge house pictured below was built by one of the seediest, most despicable people Detroit has ever seen. In 1887, James Scott Jr. purchased the property but wanted more; he asked the owner of the property behind him if he could buy his land in order to build an even larger mansion in honor of himself. The property owner refused, so when Scott built his mansion, he also built a giant wall to block the sun from his neighbor.
What's the backstory?
It's the old familiar story of a rich father leaving a fortune for a no-good son.
James Scott's father, James Sr., was a successful Detroit real estate businessman who passed away in the 1870's; he left a huge chunk of his amassed fortune to James Jr., who proceeded to squander and gamble his riches.
However, he didn't lose all his money...in fact, he had quite a tidy sum left toward the end of his life...but that didn't excuse his behavior. He was loud, obnoxious, off-color, vindictive, back-stabbing & spoiled with a HUGE ego. Author W. Hawkins Ferry described Scott as a "vindictive, scurrilous misanthrope". When he would fail to intimidate or beat out his business competitors, Scott would file a bogus lawsuit against them.
Because he was such an unscrupulous character, he had no one close to him, family, friends or colleagues....not even any children. When he passed away in 1910, he had bequeathed $200,000 to the city of Detroit, practically demanding they build a memorial statue to him. Howzat for ego? What did this guy to deserve a statue?
Was he a hero?
Did he invent something innovative or helpful to mankind?
Did he spread kindness and fellowship?
NO, NO and NO. Nothing. His father, yes...himself, NO.
A debate raged where sides argued if they should accept this money from such an egotistical, conniving creep...others said, sure, take the money and do something else with it. And they did.....sorta.
Nowadays you can visit the James Scott Memorial Fountain in Belle Isle Park; it was completed in 1925 with a total cost of $500,000. And yes, they DID build a statue of James Scott Jr.....not in an heroic pose, but behind the fountain sitting down, in a way that symbolized his massive ego & habit of having others do for him what he didn't want to do himself.
Check out the below photos of his creepy old mansion over the span of a few years in the 2000's and see the final restoration. Then pay an Historic Michigan visit to the fountain AND the mansion. Great photo ops!