Historic Detroit

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

Broadway Exchange Building

This stately Italian Romanesque skyscraper was designed by "the dean of Detroit architects," George D. Mason, who designed the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, the Detroit Masonic Temple, the original Hotel Pontchartrain and many more landmarks. It was built for Mrs. Clara Scherer, the widow of Hugo Scherer, and was ready for occupancy in early May 1926. Hugo had become rich as a manufacturer of automotive parts.

Built as an office building with commercial space in the lower floors, the Broadway Exchange Building replaced a three-story commercial building. It housed professionals such as architects, engineers, lawyers, and doctors, as well as firms such as marketing and insurance companies and realtors. The largest tenant of the first and second-story commercial space was the American Radiator Company and its successor, American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Corporation (following a 1929 merger with the Standard Sanitary Company), which operated a showroom/store in 1927 and, beginning in 1929, branch office in the building into the 1940s. The building soon acquired the name American Radiator Building.

From the City of Detroit Historic Designation Advisory Board: "Eleven stories in height, the Broadway Exchange Building has a concrete and steel frame clad in buff terra cotta, with variegated mauve-hued marble in the mezzanine level on the street façade and in concrete and beige brick on the other façades. The tall and narrow Italian Romanesque -inspired façade displays three vertical banks of paired windows that, flanked by elongated “columns,” rise from the 4th through the 11th floor; at the top of each bank is a pair of round-headed windows below a centered rondel. The whole capped by an arch springing from the capitals beneath. Crowning the façade is a low gable. The façade, virtually unaltered above the modernized street level, displays a wealth of decoration in terra cotta."

The building has been largely vacant since the late 1990s, other than the Paris Bar nightclub on the ground floor, which closed in 2015. Nevertheless, what was then known as the Harvard Square Center joined the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing building to the

The structure was purchased in November 2017 for $6.25 million by Dan Gilbert's Bedrock LLC from real estate investor Dennis Kefallinos, with specific redevelopment plans not announced at the time other than to say it would likely be a residential conversion.

In 2022, the project received $5 million in public funding last year from the state through a $13.74 million grant to the Downtown Detroit Partnership, would turn the 58,000-square-foot building into 34 residential units on the second through 10th floors, and create about 6,000 square feet of retail/commercial space below.

The Downtown Detroit Partnership, in its grant materials, said the redevelopment would cost about $43 million. HDC materials prepared by Detroit-based architecture firm Kraemer Design Group say the project includes restoring exterior masonry and historic windows, repairing the fire escape, removing a flagpole and installing a new storefront system and exterior doors.

More on this building coming soon.

Last updated 28/06/2023