Historic Detroit

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

Singer Building

The Singer Building has an understated, moderne, neo-classical facade clad in limestone located at 1414-1416 Woodward Ave. This narrow, five-story building is another important link in the street wall of Woodward Avenue. The structure retains its original windows on the third, fourth, and fifth floors. The multi-paned windows are arranged in three bays. Each window has incised lintels and surrounds with a projecting sill. The third floor windows still have decorative iron grillwork at the lower panes.

A string course separates the attic story from the structure below. Three incised blind square windows are just under the cornice. The second floor windows are covered by a surface patch of signage. The word SINGER is still painted vertically down the north and south side walls of the building from the roof to the fourth floor. The original storefront has been remodeled several times.

The Singer Building was designed by Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, the nation's oldest, continuously operating architect (today known as SmithGroup). From its origination as a one-man practice in 1853, SH&G went on to design some of Detroit's most prominent buildings, including the Greater Penobscot Building (1928), the Guardian Building (1929) and the Buhl Building (1925), among many others.

Isaac Merritt Singer, inventor of the modern sewing machine, founded the Singer Manufacturing Co. in 1851. The company's original manufacturing plants were located in New York until 1867. In 1904, the company opened its first manufacturing plant in Detroit. The Singer Sewing Machine Co. sold their machines as well as fabric, patterns and sewing notions in the building.

In 1976, the building housed Shain's Men's and Women's Clothing. In 1982, the tenant was Shin's Clothing.

Today, the Singer Building is part of the Shinola hotel property that also includes Parker’s Alley, a homage to Thomas Parker, one of Detroit’s first Black landowners.

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

Last updated 20/03/2023