Historic Attractions in Detroit

Detroit immediately brings to mind Motor City and Motown music. This town was once a really happening hotspot and brought a lot to the American culture and its historic attractions prove this by showing locals and tourists how significant Detroit was on shaping America.

Art House

Art House was originally known as the Elisha Taylor home in Detroit and is a stunning example of the Gothic Revival home. Built in 1872 the original interiors have been carefully preserved and for almost 30 years the home has served as a center for art and architecture studies. This home is a great example of the beginning of Detroit’s heyday, back when the city was known as the Paris of the Midwest.

Detroit Opera House

The Detroit Opera House is the venue for all Michigan Opera Theatre productions in addition to a number of other events. Originally named the Capitol Theatre it was the fifth largest in the world when it was built holding an impressive 4,260 people, although it doesn’t hold that many today. In fact the theater has closed a number of times, only to reopen again and see a new resurgence in popularity at each reopening.

First Congregational Church of Detroit

The First Congregational Church of Detroit was established back in 1844 with an incredible combination of Romanesque and Byzantine architecture. The building is amazingly beautiful and can be appreciated just for that. But in addition the organ is something worth taking note of as well. Built by the Casavant Freres of St. Hyacinthe Quebec it is one of the largest and finest of its kind and is divided into two different sections. The tower atop the structure stands 120 feet and at its apex is a copper statue of the Archangel Uriel.

Fox Theatre

Fox Theatre was built in 1928 and is the second largest theatre in the country, only surpassed by Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Film magnate William Fox had five Fox Theatres built during this era, each with a combination of Burmese, Chinese, Indian and Persian motifs. This theater was the very first in the world to be constructed with built in equipment for talkie films so once the films with sound appeared on the market the Fox was ready for the crowds. This theater was so important to the region that the downtown area of Detroit surrounding the theater is often referred to as Foxtown.

Hastings Street Ballroom

The Hastings Street Ballroom is not only a place of historic note but it’s a great place to catch a live performance. Currently the Hastings Street Ballroom is paired with the Tangent Gallery, making the visit that much more of an experience. For a reasonable price you can view art shows, performance art, sketch comedy, life music and more. Back in the 1930’s Hastings Street in Detroit was known as being the center of African American culture and some of the best music to come out of Detroit in that era came out of this neighborhood.

Historic Fort Wayne

History Fort Wayne in Detroit was built in the early 1800s but didn’t actually see any troops until the Civil War. The fort served as a induction center for Michigan troops before every major conflict from the Civil War to Vietnam. Almost all of the surrounding land is now owned by the city of Detroit and a visit to the Fort also includes the 1848 barracks, the 1845 Start Fort, the restored Commanding Officers House, a Spanish American War guard house, and the Tuskegee Airmen Museum.

Mariners’ Church

Mariner’s Church dates back to the founding of Fort Detroit, some 160 years ago. The stained glass windows are very unique for a church as they depict stories of scripture and the history of Detroit. This church was oddly connected to the city from the beginning. To make money the top floor was reserved for religious activities but the lower floor was rented to businesses for added income. The Post Office spent ten years in the first floor. Although the church has seen many renovations and changes throughout the years it is still very popular with local parishioners.

Masonic Temple

The Masonic Temple of Detroit lists its beginnings as stretching back to 1891 but their first formal incorporation didn’t occur until 1894. The group immediately began discussion the construction of a temple and by 1896 they were able to move into that temple. Unfortunately that temple quickly proved to be too small and plans for a new temple were tossed about. In 1926 the new Masonic Temple of Detroit was dedicated and opened to the public. This particular temple is unique because all of the bodies of the group are housed within the building and with its 12 million cubic feet it’s the largest building of its kind in the world.

Model T. Automotive Heritage Complex

Henry Ford decided he needed a factory before the Ford Motor Company was even a year old. The factory grew and was built with great consideration to safety and by 1908 the first Model T rolled out. And even though a new factory was built Model T’s continued to be built at the location until 1909 and the offices remained there for another year. The factory was subsequently sold but in 2000 the building was purchased by the Model T Automotive Heritage Complex who seeks to preserve the birthplace of the Model T. The museum provides visitors with a look at the history of this remarkable automobile and how the car changed history across the world.

MotorCities National Heritage Area

The MotorCities National Heritage Area was designated in 1998 by the U.S. Congress to preserve the history and culture of the area. About 10,000 square miles and 13 counties fall within the MotorCities region and within that space are about 1200 auto related resources, obviously the largest concentration of auto related attractions in the world. Throughout this region you’ll find a number of activities, attractions, educational centers and other events related to the automobile industry that are both interesting and educational.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Cornell University Library