Historic Detroit

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

Kaiser-Blair Building

Located at the southwest corner of John R and Woodward, this distinctive, eight-story commercial building has a Woodward frontage of only 20 feet wide and a John R frontage of 100 feet long, filling the lot to the alley.

Originally built as a four-story white terra cotta building designed by Richard Raseman in 1916, the Kaiser Blair Bldg. received a four-story addition by Raseman & Freier in 1923. The design of the fifth and sixth floors was coordinated with the earlier building, with matching Chicago-style windows. The Woodward elevation (floors two through six) is a single bay wide containing rows of three pivot windows with transoms. The John R. facade has six bays of windows in the same arrangement.

Two classically derived floors designed for the top of building provide a visual cap to the composition. The seventh and eighth stories bear references to Italian Renaissance architecture with engaged serpentine columns as mullions between the windows. The window arrangement is also different on these floors; the fenestration is separated into three separate casement windows per bay. Above each of the three windows is an arch.

Renovations to the first floor storefront added black panels above the door and windows, and the current owner added interior wall paneling and a door from another historic building to the exterior of the John R. facade. The cornice was removed from this building as well.

The original tenant was the Kaiser Blair Clothing. Building department files state that in 1933 the storefront was renovated for Cunningham Drugs, and a dentist, a tap dancing, voice, and piano school, and a beauty salon were in upper stories. Through the 1940's and 50's, Marianne's women's sportswear store was located in the building with signage for HOUSEHOLD FINANCE, LOANS on the second floor.

In 1976, Zales Jewelers replaced Rose Jewelers as the building's main tenant, and the second floor was occupied by the Tall Girls Shop. The Detroit furniture chain, House of Denmark, was located on the second through eighth floors in 1969-1974.

In the 2010s, the midrise was purchased by Bedrock and renovated into the Fourteen56 full-floor apartments, second-floor offices and first-floor restaurant space.

The Kaiser-Blair Building is a contributing building in the Lower Woodward Historic District, which also includes the Kresge Building, the Traver Building, the Fowler Building, the Heyn's Department Store 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 Ferguson Building, the D.J. Healy Co. Building, the Beck Building, the Singer Building and the Rayl Building.

Last updated 16/04/2023