Historic Detroit

Every building in Detroit has a story — we're here to share it

Welcome to Historic Detroit

March 2023 site update

Mar. 10, 2023

Last month, I shared the incredible news that Helmut Ziewers has joined the site. He has already added more than ONE THOUSAND images in the past month, in addition to some great suggestions to improve the site. We have added new subjects to filter your building searches by, including theaters and churches, and have begun documenting Detroit’s schools – especially those that are closed but still standing. More than 14 locations have been added in the past month. Some are short blurbs with photo galleries; others, like the L.B. King/Annis Fur Building and the Art Stove Building, are full histories.

To sum it up, the past month has seen more updates than almost all of last year. I’m beyond excited and reinvigorated. Thank you, especially, to our Patreon patrons for sticking with us, and stay tuned for more updates and a much better site.

February 2023 site update

Mar. 1, 2023

Exciting news today: The staff of HistoricDetroit.org has doubled in size - to two. Helmut Ziewers, pictured here doing his thing, has agreed to become the site’s director of photography. When I founded this site in June 2011, it was with the idea that the many talented photographers who document Detroit would be bending over backward to share their work on the site. That didn’t happen - and I am not, most would agree, a photographer. For the past decade, the lack of images on the site has been a major source of disappointment and frustration - not to mention a disservice to the 35,000 visitors the site averages each month who come looking for not just history, but images. At the end of the day, it’s a LOT of work researching, writing, maintaining the site and crafting daily social media posts, not to mention updating older entries with news updates, for just one person who already works an incredibly demanding job. And as that job has grown more all-consuming, I have simply struggled to keep up. Helmut and I met in person a few months back while documenting the tragic demolition of the AMC Headquarters. Since then, he has been sharing his work on the site, and has already done so much to further illustrate the stories behind the bricks and share the beauty of our city’s architecture. Everyone is still more than welcome to submit their photography to the website. But in the meantime, Helmut has already added more than 350 images in the last week, in addition to some great suggestions to improve the site. I’m embarrassed to admit, that’s about three times in one week what I have averaged in a year. I would also be remiss not to thank our Patreon patrons for sticking with us during our relatively unproductive stretch. Stay tuned for big updates and a much better site. In closing, I am incredibly excited about the future of the site - reinvigorated in fact. So join me in welcoming Helmut aboard, and look forward to a bigger, better and more illustrative HistoricDetroit.org.

December 2022 site update

Dec. 30, 2022

November was a bit busy with the holiday, but we still added several new locations to the site, including the recently renovated Wilshire Apartments in Southwest Detroit, the largely forgotten passenger steamer Ariel and the unknown-to-even-me-until-recently New Detroit Baths in Corktown, in the shadow of Tiger Stadium.

We added a slew of photos of the interior of the Kresge Administration Building, an oft-overlooked Albert Kahn-designed gem, as well as The Whitney, the iconic restaurant housed in the mansion of a Detroit lumber baron. We also finished documenting the demolition of the United Artists Theatre (pictured here), which has now been erased from the skyline. We’ve also added more postcards, as always.

None of it would be possible if it weren’t for our Patreon donors' financial support and generosity, making HistoricDetroit.org a free resource available to everyone. If you're interested in helping support this website, and get some cool donation incentives for it, go to patreon.com/historicdetroit

November 2022 site update

Nov. 8, 2022

October was a busy one. Last month, we promised you we'd give you two new sites, and we gave you FIVE. We spent a lot of time unfurling the story of the Edelweiss Café, a beautiful Bohemian biergarten that saw the early days of the Kiwanis and even Ty Cobb fisting wienerschnitzel and mugs of bier. We added three churches: Goodwill Community Chapel, Assumption Greek Orthodox Cathedral and Assumption Greek Orthodox. For good measure, we added the Hudson Hotel, a small but stately place that once was home to many of the autoworkers who toiled away in the factories of the east side. We’ve actively been documenting the demolition of the United Artists Theatre. We’ve also added more postcards and photos to our galleries, as always.

None of it would be possible if it weren’t for the financial support and generosity of our Patreon members, who make HistoricDetroit.org a free resource available to everyone. If you'd like to join and get donation incentives, go to www.patreon.com/historicdetroit.

October 2022 site update

Oct. 12, 2022

September saw the Yamasaki-designed College of Education Building at Wayne State added to the site. The end of the month also saw the start of demolition on the United Artists Theatre, and we’ve been out documenting the destruction. We’ve added a photo gallery of the demo, including some taken by flying a drone through a hole in the wall to give you one last look before this landmark is reduced to rubble. Other photo galleries added include Trinity Lutheran Church, Holy Redeemer Parish and St. John Episcopal Church, and new photos were added for the Detroit Public Library and Detroit Athletic Club. We have two more histories under way that have taken a lot more investigative work than anticipated. Stay tuned for those in October.

None of it would be possible if it weren’t for our Patreon supporters' generosity, making HistoricDetroit.org a free resource available to everyone.

September 2022 site update

Sep. 13, 2022

August saw more updates to the site than any previous month in years. For starters, we’ve added three new locations: Metropolitan United Methodist Church and two Greyhound terminals, including a long-forgotten Art Moderne gem on Washington Boulevard. Even more exciting, we have partnered with photographer Helmut Ziewers and added dozens of his images for everything from the Maccabees Building to the Hotel Yorba to Fort Street Presbyterian Church. And we’ve got a whole lot more coming in the months ahead, as well as several new sites. We also added Michigan Central Station construction photos that have never been shared anywhere else, thanks to Michael Rozzo. It’s an exciting time here at HDHQ.

And that’s all thanks to our Patreon supporters for their continued support in helping to shoulder the financial burden of making HistoricDetroit.org a free resource available to everyone.

Michigan Central Station baby photos!

Sep. 1, 2022

Only on HistoricDetroit.org: Baby photos of Michigan Central Station in Detroit.

Big thanks to Michael Rozzo for sharing photos his dad, Arthur Lyman Sarvey, an assistant chief engineer of the Michigan Central Railroad Co., took of the landmark's construction.

See the photos here.

Meet Helmut Ziewers

Aug. 26, 2022

We always encourage metro Detroiters to share their photos of Detroit landmarks on our site. A few have, but even fewer have been as generous with sharing their work as Helmut Ziewers. Helmut takes some incredible shots, and we encourage you to follow him social and check out his website at www.ziewersphotography.com. We've uploaded his work to the pages for the AMC Headquarters, St. Mary's Catholic Church, the Detroit Athletic Club, Lee Plaza, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and more.

August 2022 site update

Aug. 8, 2022

July 2022 site update recap:

Last month, saw three new buildings added to our website’s ever-growing list of offerings. First up, Andy Brogowicz and I added the old Academy of the Sacred Heart, a site that went from offering up prayers to offering up Packards. Next, I added the stunning Van Dyke Manor apartments in West Village. Finally, many folks don’t know that La Choy foods began in Detroit. When I learned that its old HQ and factory is slated for demolition, Amy Elliott Bragg of The Night Train: Detroit and I teamed-up tell its fascinating story.

But wait, there’s more. We have added photos not only of our new site additions, but dozens of others, too. In fact, there are too many locations to list here.

Thank you to our Patreon supporters for continuing to help shoulder the financial burden of making HistoricDetroit.org a free resource that is available to everyone.

July 2022 site update

Jul. 13, 2022

Last month, we added yet another building for which no history existed online or in any publication I’m aware of. The first Norton Hotel was the start of the hotel legacy of Charles W. Norton. We laid out the story of the man and the hotel, including the fact that it was built on top of graves from the original Ste. Anne’s cemetery. We’ve also set out to update a number of buildings’ pages to reflect the last few years of activity, including big ones, such as the Book-Cadillac and Eddystone hotels.

Last month also saw a brief break from adding postcards to focus on photo galleries. They include about 50 photos, both historical and contemporary shots.