Historic Detroit

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

Park Avenue Building

The Park Avenue Building was constructed as a speculative commercial office building in 1922. It was known as the General Necessities Building from November 23, 1923 to February 20, 1930. The original lease was made to Sherman Bond of Toledo, and O. H. Stimson of Mt. Clemens, both hotel owners, by the Wyman estate and Hugo Scherer. The lease was for 99 years at an estimated value of $350,000. the General Necessities Company returned the building to its owners, the Park Boulevard Company. The building was well occupied although the Depression severely reduced the occupancy in the 1930's.

The Detroit City Directory of 1929-30 lists the building as having an American State Bank branch and Fitzgerald & Sons Lunch & Sandwiches was another first floor retail tenant. In the 1936 City Directory, the building is listed as having 16 vacancies, with the entire 12 th floor vacant. Tenants included the Detroit Council of Churches, and offices for insurance, advertising, real estate, engineers, a furrier, optometrist, tailor, physician and cosmetic studio.

In the 1941 directory, the Elmer Freed Cigar store occupied the lobby, and the building was approximately 75% occupied. The Park Avenue Building tenants also included a large number of religious-oriented associations such as the Detroit Council of Religious Education, the Detroit Guild of Church Missions and the Detroit Mission of Lepers. Other tenants included the Real Silk Hosiery Mills, a vacuum manufacturer, osteopath and a dictaphone company.

The 1956 directory lists offices as including the Detroit League for Planned Parenthood, Michigan Temperance Foundation, wholesale greeting card companies, an architecture firm, and the offices of the Detroit Skyliner Magazine, Guest magazine, Trafton Millinery School and the Carnegie Institute. The Park Avenue Building fills the 80' x 100' lot at the northwest corner of Park Avenue and Adams Avenue. It is 12 stories tall and utilizes steel frame construction.

The building is faced with brick and limestone. The Adams and Park Avenue facades are identical in composition and are symmetrically arranged. The Adams elevation is vertically divided into five bays by brick pilasters. The Park Avenue elevation is divided into six bays. The first floor of the Park Avenue Building originally contained storefront windows in each bay of the building.

The windows have since been altered. An overhanging marquee of stainless steel surrounds the facades on Park Avenue and Adams. The second story on both facades features large limestone segmental arch window surrounds. Above each arch are panels featuring two figural plaques. Between the two plaques is a fountain detail. A dentil course is above the spandrel space. The floors above the second are faced in buff brick. Floors three through eleven contain pairs of double hung windows in each bay. The transoms above the windows at the twelfth floor are completed in a round arch. A circular medallion is centered between each pair of arched windows.

A denticulated cornice surrounds the flat roof. The western elevation is hidden from view by the Milner Park Apartment building. The northern elevation faces onto the alley and has one bay ornamented in the same manner as the Park Avenue facade. The remainder of the back façade is devoid of ornamentation.

As of May 2023, the building is under renovation.

Last updated 21/04/2023