Okay, time for another "skinny building." The Harvard Square Centre Building at 1346 Broadway was a handsome member of the Bricktown / Harmonie Park area, though very much off the radar of most abandoned skyscraper hunters since it never presented a dilapidated appearance, or an easy access. There was also an operating business occupying the main floor most of the time. This almost guaranteed that the interior would be left in a very preserved state, and we also knew that the view from the building would be top-notch. It's worth noting that Detroitblog John used the skyline shot he took that night for the banner of his website for several years. I had to agree, it was one of my favorite rooftops.
The building's original name was the Broadway Exchange Building, and it was designed by venerated Detroit architect George D. Mason, completed in 1926 (I also was of the understanding that Corrado Parducci was responsible for some of the facade ornamentation, but I could be wrong on that). Detroitblog noted that it housed various businesses, such as the Solomon Brothers Tailors and the Superior Motion Picture Co., as well as different architects, real estate agents and chiropractors..."One floor housed nothing but glass companies."
By 1928 however the building was bought by the American Radiator Co., who operated a foundry in the Milwaukee Junction area of the city. That company formed (in 1892, according to Clarence M. Burton) by consolidating the Detroit Radiator Co. with others, and had offices in other cities. The few floors here that were not occupied by American Radiator were used as offices by the Detroit Board of Education, whose main building was next-door at 1356 Broadway for many years (now a parking lot).
The building changed its name in the 1950s to the Phillips Building, probably reflecting yet another change in ownership, and kept that name until the 1980s when it changed again to the present "Harvard Square" moniker, despite terminally declining occupancy levels.
Almost every office door had one of these bronze letter slots:
We managed to slip out a window onto the roofs of the buildings next-door:
...and up at the Harvard Square Centre itself:
There ain't much that's more fun than rooftop hopping.
I bet you didn't know Henry the Hatter's had a peaked roof:
If you're looking at it like I am, you know that it was a bit of a stretch to get between it and the Cary Building next-door, heheh.
Across the street, the empty Lafer Bros. Building stared at us:
There was actually quite a bit of roof to explore here...at least three different buildings.
Back inside, we began to notice that there wasn't going to be much of note to find in here...place had been pretty thoroughly cleaned out.
Here on the 5th floor, a door still bore the old gilt stenciling marking it as a Board of Education office...I guess "Heck Disbursement" was serious business back in the old days:
So much so, that it required its own office, apparently. (Insert Dilbert joke here)
Corner sink action:
Like the Wurlitzer Building, the top (11th) floor here featured higher ceilings than any other floor:
Many of the old 1920s glass globes still hung on the light fixtures.
Doesn't strike me as particularly Parduccian, but what do I know:
Like the Wurlitzer, the top-most service level of the building was the birdcage, in other words, that's where all the pigeons congregated...and of course began flapping around madly once disturbed by our presence, filling the air with the dust of their dried shit, asbestos, and levitating downy tufts of their filth-ridden feathers.
There was also a small fetid pond in the rear of this floor that they liked splashing about in.
Somebody said BURSSS:
Moving upstairs again, toward the roof. One of the narrow slit-windows in the service level at the top of the building, covered with decorative wrought iron grilles:
This shot reminded me of the facade of the Vinton Building that we had checked out not that long ago:
Trying to get a decent shot of the gargoyles that guarded the building's southern elevation:
There's Gratiot Avenue:
Notice the Broadway-Randolph mural still covers the side of the Lafer Building:
The lighting this evening was amazing, and as you can see I did nothing but fire the .jpg-machinegun all night.
Again, I take all my shots with a point & shoot and no tripod, so expect a *little* blurriness.
No signs of any real renovation around Grand Circus Park yet, even the Book-Cadillac was still languishing in those days:
There were so many interesting shots to be taken from this vantage point:
Hey, why not take a hi-zoom shot in the dark?
As you can see, the signs of life in the Book Tower were flickering out in those days:
Renovations of the Broderick Tower, David Whitney Building, or Metropolitan Building were nowhere in sight, either.
As it started to get cooler outside, we made our way back in for more night photography:
This was not an easy building to get into—it required a lot of timing, and a lot of climbing—so we were going to milk this trip for everything it was worth.
Requisite nailhedian looking-down / vertigo shot:
The gargoyles again, now from below...thanks to that random spotlight, I was able to get enough light for the shot:
I quickly made a return trip back to the building during the day, for more shots.
Notice the old Meyer Treasure Chest ghost-ad on the back of the T.B. Rayl Building:
I don't know why, but we are always blessed with the absolute best light whenever we go to the Harvard Square Building.
New Greektown Casino Hotel under construction still:
There's the Traver Building down there:
Insert cliche commentary on "life after people" here:
Down below, rats scurried across the alley from one side to the other, and Greek busboys hacked smokes next to overflowing dumpsters before the end of their shift.
Centre of Attention, Detroitblog.org, June 2, 2006
The City of Detroit, Michigan, 1701-1922, Volume 5, by Clarence Monroe Burton, pg. 18