Historic Detroit

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

Richman Brothers Co. Store Building

Prominent Detroit architect Albert Kahn designed this structure for the Richman Brothers Co. in 1931.

Established in 1879, the Richman Brothers Co. had become the largest men's clothing chain in the country by 1931. The Richman Brothers Co. Building replaced an elaborate 1896 building that had housed Annis Furs, American State Bank, and W.L. Douglas Shoe Co. That building was a monumental six-story building with classical detailing and Palladian windows, and had been designed by Detroit architects Donaldson & Meier.

Located at the northwest corner of Woodward Avenue and Clifford Street, the building's two facades echo each other. The Richman Brothers Building is an eight-story structure that has Woodward frontage of 60 feet and Clifford Street frontage of 100 feet. Stainless steel and terra cotta outline the perimeter of the building=s form. Continuous window strips run along each floor's length.

Originally the building had lettering on the courses between each floor of the building proclaiming: "ALL ONE PRICE $22.50; OUR FACTORIES TO YOU; NO MIDDLEMAN PROFIT." There was also a two-story vertical sign on the roof for Richman's. A large water tower still sits on the roof of the building. In 1959, the first floor exterior was faced with granite like many of the other Woodward department storefronts. A white sign for Michigan National Bank is still centered over the Woodward façade at the roof line.

In 1976, the Richman Brothers store was converted to use by Michigan National Bank. Four years later, Michigan National announced that it had purchased the building and would renovate it at a cost of $2.5 million. At a ribbon-cutting ceremony in 1980, the building was renamed in honor of Michigan National vice-chairman George Pierson, and there is still a sign on the exterior stating it is the Pierson Building. In 1988, the building also housed a Western Union office.

In 2022, the property was renamed the Autobooks Building for the finance company on the top two floors. On the remaining floors sit other offices and street-level retail space.

The Richman Brothers Co. Store Buildingis 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 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 Kaiser-Blair Building, the Ferguson Building, the D.J. Healy Co. Building, the Beck Building, the Singer Building and the Rayl Building.

Last updated 20/03/2023