Historic Detroit

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

Donovan Building

The Donovan Building was a 10-story building opened in December 1923 and was designed by renowned architect Albert Kahn.

It took its name after the man who had it built, Timothy R. Donovan.

The building was later occupied by Motown Records from 1968 to 1972, when the beloved record label moved to Los Angeles. The famed record label announced it was leaving Detroit on June 14, 1972. After Berry Gordy Jr. and company left, the Donovan was last occupied by JOWA Security before closing in 1974.

The building was demolished in January 2006 because Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said it was an eyesore for the visitors of the upcoming Super Bowl. The owner of the building, Cherrylawn Realty, agreed to the demolition and funded it. The demolition of the building, along with the adjacent Sanders Building, was completed in two weeks. Because of this time constraint, little was removed from the buildings before demolition. Items such as marble, documents and architectural detailing were simply smashed to bits.

On the day of the Super Bowl, the site was used for parking for as few as three tour buses.

The site of the Donovan continued to sit undeveloped until the opening of Little Caesars Arena in 2017, when the site was folded into the plaza for the joint hockey and basketball venue.