Bagley History

In the 1920s and 1930s, building lots were sold by the Detroit Land Contract Company. Deeds specified single detached dwellings, no nearer than 30 feet to the front lot line, built of brick, stone or concrete, and at least two stories high, although permission to build a bungalow was occasionally given. The deed required a building to cost at least $5,000 west of Livernois. The buildings were to be residences only, no “intoxicating or spirituous liquors” could be made or sold, and the homes could never be sold to or used by persons other than “of white or Caucasian race.”

The community was named after John J. Bagley who was a wealthy tobacco merchant and later a successful politician. He was a founding member of the Republican Party and served as governor of Michigan from 1873 to 1877.

The Bagley Community gained a substantial Jewish population beginning in the 1940s, when racial covenants were no longer enforced and synagogue Adat Shalom (now Bailey Cathedral, Church of God in Christ) was built on Curtis a block west of Livernois.

African-American families began moving into the Bagley Community in the 1960s. “White flight” began and increased after the rioting in central Detroit in 1967 and the imposition of court-ordered school busing. Although the Bagley Community is now, like the rest of the city, majority black, the community continues to welcome all people, rather owning or renting to help us continue the desirable, sought after quality of life Bagley provides.

Today, the Bagley Community remains a “bedroom” community to the professionals working in the City or in surrounding suburbs by offering a great quality of life to raise a family. From strong schools to safe streets to retail and transit, Bagley has much to offer residents who want to live among the trees in houses built with one-of-kind quality.

Notable Residents

Renaldo “Obie” Benson
The Four Tops’ bass voice who co-wrote the masterpiece “What’s Going On” lived at 18461 San Juan St.

Marvin Gaye
Motown legend Marvin Gaye lived at 3067 Outer Drive. In his book “What’s Going On”, writer Ben Edmonds explains that much of Gaye’s iconic song was conceived in this house.

Berry Gordy
The founder of Motown Records owned the home at 3067 Outer Drive until 1967 when he gave it as a gift to his older sister Anna and brother-in-law, Marvin Gaye.

Levi Stubbs
The lead vocalist of the Four Tops lived at 18512 Santa Barbara.

Stevie Wonder
Berry Gordy purchased the home at 18074 Greenlawn St. for “Little Stevie Wonder,” his parents, and siblings.