Forgotten Detroit
Metropolitan Building
The Metropolitan in photos
Construction underway.


The Metropolitan Building was born during the great building boom of the 1920's. In 1924 the architectural firm of Weston & Ellington designed a 14 story gothic office tower for Central Reality Company. The site on John R. that was selected was somewhat unusual in that it was on a triangular lot at the head of an alley. Work on the building began in the summer of 1924 and was completed in 1925. Walbridge Aldinger was the general contractor.

Once completed the Metropolitan was a sight to behold. The front of the building was faced with terra-cotta gothic ornament that gave the building the look of a cathedral. The upper and lower portions of the building were faced with such ornament while the main shaft was of cream brick. Inside one would find a breathtaking two story lobby and a second floor retail arcade. It was a jewel.

The completed building in 1925.

Fitting that such a building be used by jewelers and watchmakers. It was such businesses that utilized the new building. For decades the Metropolitan was the place to go for someone looking to procure some fine jewelry or have their watch repaired.

Throughout the years the building underwent few physical changes. In 1927 a mezzanine was added to the lobby. In 1930 a fire escape was installed on the roof. Other modifications were limited to the office space.

Throughout the 1970's the nature of the local economy and neighborhood changed and occupancy dwindled. The jewelers moved to the suburbs. The building finally closed in 1979. At this time ownership was titled to the city.

The Metropolitan in 1987.

Though a perfect building for lofts the Metropolitan would vacant. The building couldn't be sold due to dangerous waste left behind by the watchmakers. The building's past was hampering its future. In 1997 the Metropolitan was finally freed of this burden when the city cleaned out the hazardous materials. The remaining debris was cleared in 2003 as part of a possible redevelopment.

It is now 2004 and the building still stands empty. However the area is alive with new activity and the Metropolitan sits on the brink of revival. Before long a new chapter will be written in its history.

Copyright 2000 - 2004, David Kohrman
Last updated on March 10, 2004