Historic Detroit

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

Harper Hospital (old)

Today, hospitals tend to be boring structures that look as sterile as the medical treatment they provide. But back in the day, Detroit boasted a hospital as beautiful and ornate as a church. Harper Hospital survives today, though in nowhere near as beautiful as building as this.

Harper Hospital opened in a different facility on the same site on Oct. 12, 1864, serving as a general military hospital for wounded Civil War soldiers. It was built on land donated by wealthy Detroiter Walter Harper.

On June 19, 1884, Harper opened in this red-brick, Gothic Revival building on John R that was designed by Elijah E. Myers, the architect who a decade earlier designed the Michigan State Capitol, as well as the Capitol buildings in Colorado and Texas.

Over its life, old Harper would see the births, as well as deaths, of countless Detroiters. It would also see the rise of modern medicine, which eventually led to its demolition.

Eventually, changing technology and the desire for different hospital layouts and features led to Harper Hospital building a new facility next to the old. The hospital was demolished, with that work beginning July 30, 1977.

More on this building coming soon.