Page 74 - Montecito Journal Glossy Edition Winter Spring 2012/13

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spr ing
Moguls & Mansions
Institute of the Arts and together with members of his family gave many
bequests to the museum. He also founded the Merchants Bank of Detroit
and was vice president of Detroit Leather Specialty Company. He became
an active member of the Detroit Club, the pioneer social organization
of Motor City, and, placing a high value on recreation and athletics, was
instrumental in furnishing the Athletic Club of Detroit and served on the
board of the YMCA.
An avid golfer, Gray joined the Detroit Country Club. For the club’s
first Annual Golf Dinner in December 1913, he took his place among
the “Rounders of the Knight’s Table” and was dubbed David “Dividend”
Gray. By 1920, the Grays were spending summers in Nantucket where
they had built a home. There, the nine-hole ‘Sconset Golf Club was poorly
situated and rundown. In 1921, Gray purchased 280 acres of Mayflower
Hill and the lands around the Sankaty Head Lighthouse to create Sankaty
Head Golf Club. He also paid for the construction of the clubhouse and
deeded both to the club in 1925.
Gray loved Siasconset, saying in a 1923 interview for
Boston Globe
, “I have traveled a great deal, and I have seen nothing more
beautiful, more restful, than this wonder country here at ‘Sconset.” He
was enamored by the simplicity and unassuming wealth of its seasonal
residents. “Why, down here you go along and come to a little piano-box of
a cottage and see a man out front dressed in an old golf suit, and perhaps
he is the president of the Southern Pacific; but you’d never know it to look
at him.”
By 1915 the dividends at Ford had dried up, and disputes arose
between the investors who wanted them continued and Ford, who wanted
to put the profits back into the business. Things came to a head in 1916
when the Dodge brothers sued Ford and obtained a temporary injunction
that prevented him from using the assets of the Ford Motor Company
to extend the business instead of distributing profits in dividends.
Stockholders John F. and Horace Dodge maintained that increased labor
costs and an unstable business environment that was destined to arise in
the wake of WWI made “reckless expenditures of the company’s assets
David Gray resigned from his position on the board in 1916. The
court case dragged on for three years before the Michigan Supreme Court
ruled that the company must pay a special dividend as demanded by the
plaintiffs. As per agreement, Gray sold his family’s stock back to Ford in
1919. John S. Gray’s investment (excluding previously paid dividends)
netted the family $26,500,000. That year, David and his wife, Martha
Platt Gray, and son David Jr. headed for Santa Barbara where they would
build and furnish a baronial estate.
Hilltop Baron
The Gray family had been occasional visitors to Santa Barbara over
the years and had purchased a parcel of land on Constance and Anacapa
streets in 1916. They sold the parcel upon their return in 1919 on the
advice of Roland F. Sauter, whom they’d hired to design their winter
estate. Sauter had found the perfect site, twenty-nine acres high on Pepper
Hill in Montecito. Fresh out of architecture school, Sauter came to Santa
Barbara in 1912 and worked as foreman on the construction of Windsor
Soule and Russell Ray’s design for
El Cerrito
, the Riviera home of another
Detroiter, Clarence A. Black. Like Gray, Black had once been an investor
in Henry Ford’s automotive endeavors, but joined other investors to form
Cadillac Motor Company after a similar dispute with Ford.
Sauter’s experience at
El Cerrito
made him eminently qualified to
Gesturing exuberantly, David Gray expresses his delight in his mountain lodge which
he dubbed Deer Lodge (Courtesy of Santa Barbara Historical Museum)