THE FIRST THING ADAM HOLLIER WILL TELL YOU IS that he has an incredibly supportive wife. When he floated the idea of buying a Detroit money pit for their family home—their first home together—she didn’t call off the wedding.
“Krystle’s first response was no,” says Hollier, laughing. “But then it was like, deep breaths, deep breaths. ‘Okay, if this is really what you want to do. . . .’ ”
It was 2009. Hollier was just 24, recently returned to Detroit and newly engaged. He had left the city to study at Cornell University and then get his master’s at the University of Michigan, but he quickly realized he couldn’t abandon his hometown. He wanted to be a part of shaping its future. To start, he wanted a house, preferably a fixer-upper, something he could make his own. And that’s when he saw the house: a 7,800-square-foot mansion with a six-car garage and a carriage house. It didn’t matter that it was vacant and in foreclosure. It didn’t matter that water was leaking through the red-clay-tile roof. It didn’t matter that it would need all new electricity and plumbing. The carriage house gutted. Plaster fixed. Kitchen modernized.
He knew he wanted it—because he’d wanted it forever. Hollier’s parents live just three blocks away, and he spent his childhood walking past the 1922 Italian Renaissance home in Arden Park, a tiny mansion-filled neighborhood in the city’s North End. The son of a social worker and a Detroit Fire Department captain, he dreamed of one day owning such a home.
“This house informed how I viewed houses,” says the 31-year-old, who is now the director of government affairs for the Michigan Fitness Foundation. “I love red Spanish tile and a long symmetrical style. And that is because of this house.” And so he made a deal with Krystle: While she finished her final year of clinical research in Rochester, New York, he would make the house her home.
She agreed. And for just $65,000 cash, the mansion on Arden Park Boulevard was theirs.