Historic Detroit

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

Marquette Building

The Marquette Building is a steel-frame, ten-story brick and terra cotta commercial office building built in 1906. It fronts 150 feet on West Congress Street and 120 feet on Washington Blvd. Large windows on all four sides of the building allowed light and air for work purposes.

The building is faced with red brick, and even retains its original first floor brickwork. A bulkhead of cast stone runs around the base of the building, and at the end of piers it is formed into column bases and plinths. A running band of beige terra cotta divides the second and third floors as well as the third and fourth floors. It is apparent that a running band or cornice was removed from between the eighth and ninth floors.

The tenth-floor windows have round-arch heads and terra-cotta keystones. The windows are all two-over-two aluminum replacement windows. All the windows have a sill of white terra cotta. The cornice is a simple band of terra cotta. The roof is flat. Above the entrance doors on both the West Congress and Washington façades the name “Marquette Building” is applied in metal lettering.

Like the 1903 Murphy Building to the east, this building was also built for the Simon J. Murphy interests and also initially bore the Murphy Power Building label. It was built in part to replace the 1903 building in providing electric power and steam heat to the nearby section of the downtown, since directories after 1907 list only it as housing the Murphy Power Company. The basement power plant also powered the Murphy Storage & Ice Company ice plant and cold storage – including a fur storage – that occupied part of the building. The Detroit Edison Company bought out the Murphy Power Company in 1914 and the storage and ice operation moved elsewhere and soon disappeared.

With substantial renovations the building acquired the Marquette name about 1916. Although it was advertised in 1916 as offering space for small manufacturing operations, it soon became an office building. As built, the building displayed tall round-head windows in the first-second and fourth-fifth stories that may have fronted the spaces containing the generating equipment. A tall smokestack rose along the alley side. As part of the c. 1916 renovations large square-head windows in each story replaced the round-arch ones.

The Marquette Building was bought by Detroit-based Sterling Group for $10 million in 2018. In 2019, the world’s largest advertising company, London-based WPP, announced that it will move up to 1,000 employees into the building after renovations of about $20 million were completed.

Last updated 18/04/2023