Historic Detroit

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

Heyn's Department Store Building

This 10-story building was constructed of reinforced concrete and faced with limestone at an estimated cost of $175,000. Originally built as Heyn's Department Store, the upper seven stories of the front facade are intact as a classically arranged department store building comprised of three parts: a storefront on the first level, the upper facade with regularly spaced windows, and the cornice level that caps the building.

Architect Albert Kahn emphasized the top portion of the building by creating a division from the shaft, or column, of the building and the top floor. A band of limestone spandrels separates the ninth story from the tenth, creating a separate strip of windows on the top floor. Each spandrel is carved with a circular rosette in its center.

The Heyn's Building is composed of four bays of windows with dark mullions and muntins and dark metal spandrels that recede visually, allowing the piers between the bays to emphasize the building's verticality. The first floor originally had an overhanging canopy and transom windows to add light to the main selling floor. Decorative metal spandrels under the windows are still intact today.

In the 1930s, the first floor of the building was divided into three separate storefronts. Lerner Shops renovated a portion of the facade in 1936 and, in the 1950s, it expanded and modernized again with signage on an enameled steel granite checkerboard pattern over the first two stories.

In the late 1960s, the facade reconstruction was continued to visually bind the building with the Field's Building to the north. The two buildings were joined as one facade on the first three stories, removing the original exterior limestone.

In 1964, the cornice and parapet were removed, although a frieze of classical foliated designs remains.

The woman's clothing business known as Heyn's Bazaar was established in Detroit in 1873. In 1909 Heyn's Bazaar was located in the Freud Building on the block north of Campus Martius, and just 10 years later, Heyn's moved a block north to this brand new building, replacing the R. H. Fyfe & Co.'s Up Town Shoe Store (1886), a five story building, and changing its name to Heyn's Department Store.

In the heady days of 1929, the property was sold for $1.2 million to Detroit millionaire Col. F.M. Alger. The newspapers reported that, "The purchase was one of the biggest downtown real estate transactions in the city's history."

The building had the Lerner Shops as a tenant from 1937 until the mid-1980s, when Hudson's closed and much of Woodward's retail closed along with it.

The Heyn's Department Store Building is a contributing building in the Lower Woodward Historic District, which also includes the Kresge Building, the Traver Building, the Fowler Building, the Bedell Building, the Elliot Building, the Valpey Building, the Frank & Seder Building, the Frank & Seder Co. Building (Albert's), the Woodward Building, the Richman Brothers Co. Store Building, the Grinnell Brothers Music House, the Fisher Arcade, the Himelhoch's Building, the David Whitney Building, the Broderick Tower, the Telenews Theater, the United Foundation Building, the Lane Bryant Building, the A&M Coney Island Building, the Wright-Kay Building, the Kaiser-Blair Building, the Ferguson Building, the D.J. Healy Co. Building, the Beck Building, the Singer Building and the Rayl Building.

Last updated 20/03/2023