Historic Detroit

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

Iodent Building

The Iodent Building stands at the southwest corner of Park Avenue and Montcalm streets in downtown Detroit.

The permit for the Wormer & Moore Building was issued on Dec. 14, 1922, to the architecture firm of Bonnah & Chaffee. Its estimated cost of construction was $136,000. Constructed by the Wormer & Moore real estate company, the firm's flagship building and headquarters on Park was led by the partnership of Clarkson C. Wormer Jr. and Lucian S. Moore. Moore's brother, Kenneth L. Moore, served as vice-president. Financing for the building reflected the speculative capitalism of the "Roaring Twenties:" Bonds were issued at 6 2 % interest by the Straus Brothers Co. of Detroit.

The Wormer and Moore families' prominence in Detroit business and industry reached back well into the nineteenth century. The fathers of the partners of the real estate firm were also business partners. Clarkson C. Moore Sr. had been the president of the C. C. Wormer Machinery Co. and Lucian S. Moore Sr. had been vice-president. C.C. Moore Sr.'s father, Grover S. Moore, was himself a prominent machinery business representative when he arrived in Detroit in 1854. In 1857, he founded G. S. Wormer & Son. He later became a colonel during the Civil War, and shared an office at Fort Gratiot with the father of Thomas Edison. C.C. Moore Sr. became a partner with his father and brother in 1873, and the firm became G.S. Wormer and Sons. The firm lasted until 1884, when G. S. Wormer retired. The C. C. Wormer Machinery Co. was then established in 1889 and represented more than 40 U. S. machinery manufacturers. C.C. Wormer retired in 1912.

C.C. Wormer Jr. was born in 1883, graduated from Union College, and entered the real estate field in 1906. Lucian S. Moore Jr. was born in 1885, graduated from the University of Michigan in 1907, and entered the real estate field in 1909. The two formed the real estate firm of Wormer & Moore in 1919. Kenneth L. Moore, who was born in 1891, graduated form Yale in 1914 and served in the armed forces during World War I; he joined the firm after his honorable discharge in 1919. The Wormer & Moore Building, where the firm established its headquarters, was erected in 1923. The firm was one of the most prominent realty houses in Detroit, and specialized in downtown property. Wormer also served as the first vice-president of the Park Avenue Association, which promoted the development of the street during the 1920s boom years.

The building is eight stories high and built with a reinforced concrete and steel structure. The building has Arts-and-Crafts-influenced decorative details in cut limestone on the façade at the two-story base and on the top floor. The entry doorway on Park Avenue has classical Greek elements on its frame. The second-floor windows are arched. The body of the building, floors three through seven, has an exterior of dark brown brick. The fenestration pattern of the upper floors consists of banks of paired windows. The interior of the building has decorative elements such as plaster molding and stained-glass windows.

The Wormer & Moore Building first appears in the 1923-24 Detroit City Directory, at near capacity, and continues this way through the 1920s. However, the Great Depression seems to have hit the building hard, because listings for the upper floors of the building disappear as of the 1932-33 directory, through to the 1940 directory. The only enterprises listed at the building's addresses are the Parkmont Cut Rate Drug Store and the Mayfair restaurant. This vacancy made the building a candidate for sale, and the Wormer & Moore Building later became the manufacturing facility and headquarters for the Iodent Toothpaste Co. The Detroit City Directory was not published in the 1940s, but it is likely the sale occurred during these years; the building appears as the Iodent Building in the 1950s.

The Iodent Chemical Co. first appears in the Detroit City Directory in 1919 on Woodward Avenue in Highland Park. The driving force behind the company was its president, Dr. Alfred J. Lautmann. Its primary brand was Iodent Toothpaste, but the firm manufactured other toiletries. During the twenties the firm relocated to 1011 Lafayette in Detroit, and in the thirties it was at 1535 6th St. Dr. Lautmann was still listed as president in 1958, after which the president listed in the directory is his son-in-law, Lawrence Weisberg. Dr. Lautmann died in 1968.

There are still large industrial toothpaste mixers on the fifth floor of the Iodent Building. The Iodent Co. appears in the directory through 1973. Shortly thereafter the company moved from the building and donated it for tax purposes to Shaw College at Detroit.

The historic 1920s skyscraper is renovated and houses 11 luxury rental apartments and two commercial spaces. An upscale martini lounge, Centaur Bar and a Mexican restaurant, Hot Taco, were closed but the Town Pump, a neighborhood pub, now occupies the first floor.

Last updated 09/04/2023