This is a notable example of classical Greek architecture as interpreted by architects in Detroit early in the last century. You see four Ionic pillars on the Shelby Street face of the structure with half pillars at the north and south ends. There is a classic entryway. Toward the roof, you see an entablature along with a cornice. Those are topped by a balustrade.
Alas, I know little about this structure. It is known as the Detroit Fire and Marine Insurance Company Building. That firm was established in Detroit in January, 1866. At that time, there were few nationwide casualty insurance companies so every major population center had its own firm. I infer that leaders of Detroit’s emerging business elite set up and managed this firm for some time. I believe the building was also used by a bank but I cannot provide much useful information. In 2009, I believe the building was home to the White House Night Club. That business, apparently, went under and the building was later home to the Elysium Lounge Night Club. That business also closed. The Detroit Fire and Marine Insurance Company spent $144,000 to erect this structure in 1912. That translates to about 3.2 million 2010 dollars.
Date of Completion: 1912
Architect: George D. Mason
Arthitectural style: Classical
Use in 2014: I believe this is an empty building awaiting a new use.
City of Detroit Designated Historic District: Not listed
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites: Not listed
National Register of Historic Sites. The Detroit Fire and Marine Insurance Company Building is within the Detroit Financial District that was registered on December 25, 2009 as a National Historic District.
Photograph: Ren Farley; September 14, 2011
Description updated: February, 2014
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