Historic Detroit

D.J. Healy Co. Building

According to the 1914 edition of The Book of Detroiter, Daniel J. Healy began his career as a dealer of Ostrich Feathers and then in Dry Goods in 1887. His business expanded and in 1949 ads promoted “Healy’s ‘Round the Town…9 Shops of Fashion…Downtown and in Your Neighborhood.” The D. J. Healy Co. demolished its previous store building and two other mid-19th century brick stores to construct this six-story building in 1910.

The Chicago firm that designed the Healy Building was influenced by the architect Louis Sulllivan’s Gage Building (1899), a Chicago landmark in architectural design for the reduction of the terra cotta exterior to the minimum necessary in order to express the underlying structure of the steel frame.

The D.J. Healy Building has intact crean-colored terra cotta on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors. The building’s window strips are divided into three bays. The sixth floor windows are gracefully arched and the transoms on each set of windows still retain smaller square paned glass. A heavy string course of terra cotta separates the fifth and sixth floors in order to divide the floor of the building into a third zone, or capital, to the structure.

The Healy Building has suffered renovations and misguided improvements to the greatest extent of any building on Woodward. The first three stories were bricked over for signage. Fortunately, the original terra cotta and window frames remain behind the unsightly surface covering. The building’s intricate foliated metal marquee was removed in 1941. The cornice was removed in 1958 and replaced with corrugated aluminum.

The D. J. Healy Company closed its Woodward store in 1962, although it kept its branch stores in suburban Grosse Pointe and Birmingham operating, and sold the building to Petrie Retail Inc. in 1962. Detroit Building Department records show that &70,000 of the interior renovations were done in 1963 when the porperty changed ownership. The Petrie Retail Co. operated Marianne’s (young women’s clothing chain) in the building for thirty years. In 1994, Marianne’s connected its first Floor to 1424 Woodward (A. S. Beck Store) to the south. Marianne’s closed in 1995.