Historic Detroit

Capitol Square Building

Thomas Rowland conveyed the lot upon which the Capitol Square Building was later erected to Joseph Bamlet under the Governor and Judges Plan on May 7, 1835.

Joseph Bamlet, a brick mason, proceeded to build a road house on the lot. After his death a year later, Bamlet’s wife and family converted the building into a tavern. Living quarters for tenants were in log houses situated in a row along Grand River Avenue west of the tavern to Washington Avenue. By 1864, the area was ripe for the construction of business structures. George Bamlet, son of the late Joseph Bamlet, demolished the log houses and built a four-story brick building next to the road house.

The road house and the adjacent building were razed in 1897, when Frank H. Bamlet, grandson of the late Joseph Bamlet, built the present six-story brick building on the south side of Grand River Avenue between Griswold and Washington Boulevard at an estimated cost of $30,000 (a paltry $815,000 today, when adjusted for inflation). He named the new structure, appropriately enough, the Bamlet Building.

On Jan. 18, 1897, Permit #39 was issued to contractor J.T. Currie. The Bamlet Building was designed by the Detroit architectural firm of Spier & Rohns.

During the early 1900s a variety of businesses occupied the building. Dental and optical offices leased rooms, as did real estate and architectural firms. Also, according to the 1900-1905 Detroit city directories, the Gutchess Metropolitan Business College was an occupant. In later years, the structure was renamed the Holden Building (1921-22), Burns-Gray Building (1926-31) and Capitol Square Building (1931- present).

The Gustava D. Anderson Estate owned the structure from 1932 until 1963. In 1963, the Broadway Investment Co. bought the structure. In 1965, the store entrance on Grand River was replaced with display windows. Griswold Associates owned the building in 1967-1984. The building has been empty and for sale for years.