Historic Detroit

Vinton Building

The Vinton opened on the northeast corner of Woodward Avenue and Congress Street in 1917. It was designed by Albert Kahn for Robert K. Vinton, grandson of the founder of the Vinton Co., a prominent Detroit building contractor. Among the landmarks built by the firm were the city’s first Opera House (1869); the Old Wayne County Building (1902); and Old City Hall (1871). Kahn had worked with the firm on several of his designs, including the Palms Apartments (1901); the Belle Isle Aquarium and conservatory (1904); and a number of auto factories, such as plants for Hudson, Packard and Hupp. In 1922, the building was sold to the Guaranty Trust Co., which renamed it the Guaranty Building. But the financial institution took a pounding during the Great Depression. The building would change hands, and names, many times over the ensuing years: the Michigan Bank Building, Rands Building, Citizens Building, American Savings Building, 600 Woodward Building, and the Law Center Building. It had been closed for a number of years until a loft conversion began in the mid-2000s, though it was never completed. Businessman Dan Gilbert announced in March 2013 that he had bought the VInton, and, as of January 2017, the building is under renovation.

From the City of Detroit Historic Designation Advisory Board:

“Steel-Frame, twelve-story building faced in light grey glazed brick with terra cotta details. Albert Kahn, Inc. architect. George A. Fuller Co. contractor. The building stands at the northwest corner of Woodward and East Congress and fills out the lot. The two street-facing facades are treated alike, with narrow vertical piers separating banks of single double-hung windows that fill most of these facades. The facades display an Art-and-Crafts-influenced Commercial style feeling, but with Romanesque-inspired detailing. Terra cotta spandrel panels contain foliage ornament set in a central lozenge outlined by triangles. The upper row of windows has arched heads. Attenuated twisted columns outlining the facade’s edges run up to the shallow gabled treatment with an arcaded cornice above the rosette-decorated frieze. The Vinton name is displayed at the gable-shaped parapet. The roof is glat with the exception of an elevator penthouse and separate equipment storage shed. The alley façade is faced in common brick. The storefront was refurbished to something closer to its historic appearance than the discarded enameled metal panel façade.

“Robert K. Vinton, secretary-treasurer fo the Vinton Company, general contractors, commissioned the building. The Vinton Company was by then Detroit’s oldest building firm, founded in 1858 by Walter A. Vinton, Robert’s grandfather. The Vinton Company initially had its offices on the elenth floor of the office building. The Guaranty Trust Company bought the building by 1925 and by the end of the decade occupied the first and second stories. The bank was a casualty of the 1933 bank holiday.”