Originally a part of the Ferry Seed Company, East Ferry Avenue was developed in the late 1800s into an upper-class neighborhood. The lots were originally sold subject to building restrictions and the district developed with a variety of architectural styles popular in the late 1800s. In the mid-1910s to the 1920s the population became predominately Jewish. Three synagogues and a Jewish school were built in the neighborhood during this period. By the mid-1930s the area again experienced a population shift towards notable black residents who established health institutions, businesses and educational facilities for use by the black population.
The six historic buildings that are a part of The Inn On Ferry Street were all purchased by the Merrill-Palmer Institute, an educational institution nationally known for its pioneering work in the fields of child development and family life. Eventually the homes collectively came under ownership by the Detroit Institute of Arts in the 1970s and remained so until the renovation of the buildings began in February 2000 for The Inn On Ferry Street.