Historic Detroit

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

Murphy-Telegraph Building

The Telegraph Building is a steel-frame, six-story office building faced in white glazed terra cotta (1913). The Telegraph Building is located at the southeast corner of West Congress and Shelby Streets, and originally shared a party wall with the Murphy Building to the east. This building’s white glazed terra cotta stands out from the red brick and beige terra cotta of the buildings nearby.

The Murphy Building was designed by the firm Donaldson & Meier.

The exterior walls around the street-level storefronts have been renovated with dark green mica-flecked cast panels up to mid-level and white marble panels above. Today, green awnings shelter the shop windows.

In the façades above the storefronts vertical “piers” that project only very slightly and low paneled horizontal bulkheads – all faced in terra-cotta blocks – frame the broad square-head windows that occupy nearly the entire space.

The frieze below a simply detailed projecting cornice displays five panels corresponding with each window bay, with two small blind round windows centered over each window bay. The windows are arranged in four bays on the West Congress façade and eight on the Shelby façade. Although the windows, each a triple with narrow double-hung at each end flanking a broader double- hung in the center, are replacements, they are designed to look similar to the original Chicago-style windows. The building has a flat roof. The alley façade is faced in white glazed brick. The building originally housed Western Union’s Detroit hub plus rental office space.

During a renovation, the Murphy and Telegraph buildings were joined together to share a continuous floor plate and elevator core. The interiors of both buildings have been completely renovated.

Today, the combined building is called the Murphy-Telegraph Building.

Last updated 08/04/2023