Thursday, July 14, 2005

Spotlight on: Detroit's Maccabees Building

Although he is best-known for his design of the highly-acclaimed Fisher Building in Detroit's New Center area, the architectural mark left by German-born architect Albert Kahn can be seen in several places throughout Detroit. The Maccabees Building - located on Woodward at Putnam - is one such place.

The front of the Maccabees Building

Created originally for the Maccabees, a fraternal society that moved from London to Detroit in the late 1800s, the 14-story structure is exemplary of Kahn's no-nonsense commercial design style.

A View of the building from the opposite corner of Woodward and Putnam

Although initially created as a headquarters for the Maccabees, the structure was also home to one of Detroit's first radio stations, WXYZ. Coincidentally, the radio station was also the birthplace of the Lone Ranger, which was broadcast live three days a week from WXYZ's offices in the building.

The intricacies of the main arch around the building's entryway exude the Art Deco style and Romanesque details Kahn incorporated

The Maccabees left the building in 1960 and moved to Southfield, MI, but Kahn's limestone beauty did not stay empty for long; the Midtown building became the headquarters of the Detroit Public Schools that same year. DPS called the structure home until 2002, when it moved to the New Center area.

In 2003, Wayne State University purchased the Maccabees Building - along with two other area structures - for $9.2 million. Shortly after taking ownership, WSU hired Chezcore, Inc., to repair a portion of the building's limestone exterior, which was replaced with panels from the same Indiana quarry as the originals.

Today the building is home to WSU's Office of Records and Registration, as well as five of the university's departments - English, African Studies, Philosophy, Women's Studies, and Humanities. There have been rumors that another Au Bon Pain, like the one at Campus Martius Park, will be opening in the building next year.

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All photographs were taken by Jaime Halaas unless otherwise noted