In 1812, Territorial Governor Lewis Cass purchased the Macomb farm. By 1818 he had acquired "80 arpents in depth" of land extending from the Detroit River in the form of a narrow French ribbon farm. Cass died in 1866. In 1869 his daughters Matilda Cass Ledyard and Mary Cass Canfield subdivided block 98 and donated 100 feet for an avenue, which they named Canfield in memory of Mary's husband Captain Augustus Canfield. Lewis Cass, Jr. subdivided block 100 on the north side of Canfield in 1871. Many of Detroit's most prominent attorneys, physicians, dentists and architects owned homes on West Canfield. In the 1880s the area became commonly known as Piety Hill because of the alleged social and moral character of its residents.
The West Canfield Historic District encompasses one block of West Canfield extending from Second Boulevard to Third Street. All of the houses in the district were built in the 1870s through the 1890s. The elaborate houses, with ornately carved wood and stone trim, reflect a variety of architectural styles including Gothic Revival, Italianate, Second Empire and Queen Anne. Through the years the houses were being destroyed by neglect. In 1969 the Canfield West - Wayne Preservation Association organized to promote purchase and restoration of the houses. The area became Detroit's first local historic district in 1970, and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.