Farwell Building



A fine example of the speculative office buildings built in large numbers in pre-Depression Detroit, the story of the Farwell begins in 1915. The fine eight story structure was completed that year and named for the estate of Jesse H. and Emmer J. Farwell. Such noted firms as architects Bonnah & Chaffee, the Russel Wheel and Foundry Company, and Tiffany Studios of New York were employed to create as fine a building possible.

Facing Capitol Park, the building was designed in the simple 'Chicago School' style of commercial building. The exterior wall is essentially glass. The horizontal and vertical structural members are emphasized in different materials. The otherwise simple design was accented with neoclassical elements. Ionic pilasters and decorative iron work were employed for the lower floors and storefronts while a terra cotta cornice was affixed to the top.

Farwell 1974

The Farwell in 1974.
Courtesy State Historic Preservation Office.

Inside the building was more ornate with rare Tiffany glass mosaic lobby ceilings and glass. Grecian marble and an elaborate brass elevator finished the effect. The upper floors were centered around a five story light court. This allowed maximum natural light into the interior and created a wonderful sense of openness.

In 1956 the building was altered and modernized with the removal of the cornice. Further modernizations during the 1970's would not prevent the building's closing. In 1974 the Farwell was listed on the State Register of Historic Places and in 1974 on the National Register. Despite these efforts the building has stood vacant for nearly twenty years. There have been proposals for loft developments but as of today none have materialized.

Copyright 1999 - 2005, David Kohrman
Last updated on November 1, 2005