Historic Detroit

Eureka Building

Eureka vacuums are still found in many homes across the country today, but many people don’t know that they got their start in Detroit.

Fred Wardell moved to Detroit from Canada in 1909 and founded the Eureka Vacuum Cleaner Co., naming it after the exclamation of great discovery. Within about a decade, Eureka was the country’s No. 2 vacuum manufacturer.

This retail store and company headquarters, located on Broadway near John R Street, opened in early 1920. By 1931, the company’s factory, designed by the firm Beckett & Akitt, was pumping out 2,000 machines a day on Holden Street and Hamilton Avenue, which is Lodge Freeway service drive today. When it opened in 1919, it was called the largest vacuum cleaner factory in the world.

In 1925, Wardell tried his hand at real estate, building the Wardell Hotel on Woodward Avenue and Kirby Street, today known as the Park Shelton.

The company lives on today and has been a division of Sweden-based Electrolux Home Care Products since 1974. The Eureka Building has been home to lofts and the popular Small Plates restaurant for more than a decade.