Former Tigers owner Frank Navin's home for sale with room-sized safe in the basement
DETROIT (WJBK) - It’s for the Detroit Tigers fan that has everything - forget Navin Field, it's Navin's house.
The home that former Detroit Tigers owner Frank Navin once owned is for sale. Built in 1906, the piece of Tigers history resides at 36 Longfellow at the corner of Woodward in Detroit's Boston-Edison district.
And the 3,700-square foot Colonial with five bedrooms and two baths can be all yours for $395,000. As a bonus, it even comes with its own basement safe room - which is indeed a safe the size of an entire room.
Navin owned the house and lived there for 25 years until his death, which came a month after the Tigers won the team's first world championship in 1935 by beating the Chicago Cubs in six games.
The safe room is built with two sets of doors, with the outer one a combination lock and the second inside a set of double doors with a key entry. It was built for gate receipts which were brought back from the ballpark after games.
"The banks did not have night depositories at the time that could accommodate that type of cash," said real estate agent Keith Weber. "So what we have is not just one safe door, but a second safe door that leads into a walk-in safe room. And this is where they kept the money."
On one of the outside safe walls, a panel lifts up to reveal an open cutout window with jail bars to drop the cash through.
"If they were not bringing in the money themselves, somebody else could drop the money through," Weber said. "But there were bars here that stopped them from getting in."
IN PHOTOS: Click here to see a gallery of the house.
The current owner has lived there since 1978 and has preserved the classic elements of the home including original woodwork and tile work, Weber said.
"One of the nice things about this house is it has not been architecturally messed with," he said. "This house has survived 110, 111 years with much of its integrity still intact - and that's what makes it a special home."
Navin started in the front office with the Tigers in 1903, and shrewdly assembled a pennant contender led by his biggest move of all, purchasing Ty Cobb for $700 before he was a part-owner in 1908 and later the outright owner in 1919. Named for him, Navin Field was the first modern ballpark using concrete and steel built at Michigan and Trumbull, replacing Bennett Park in 1912, later becoming Tiger Stadium.
With large stately homes lining the streets, Boston Edison is known for its rich history. And like many Detroit historic neighborhoods, it is feeling a surge in the city's rebirth.
"This neighborhood was home to Henry Ford before he moved to Park Lane, and it was home to Ty Cobb who Frank Navin brought to Detroit," Weber said. "The Tigers owner after Mr. Navin, Mr. (Walter) Briggs, lived on Boston Boulevard just two blocks north. This has always been a hub of movers and shakers in the city and once again these homes are being restored to their former glory."
CLICK HERE to see the house listing.
About the author: David Komer is a web producer/multimedia journalist for FOX 2 and has won more than 20 Michigan Press Association awards in news and sports coverage in his career.