Perhaps no other building in Detroit proves it's what's inside that counts.
Though it looks like a generic 1960s office building on the outside, this structure on the edge of the New Center and Milwaukee Junction neighborhoods actually dates to 1910 and was designed by renowned Detroit architect Albert Kahn for the Ford Motor Co. as its main showroom and service building. Though its original terra cotta exterior was destroyed in 1956, inside lies an ornate arcade that still retains all its Kahn-designed splendor.
Built by Ford, home to almost everybody else
In February 1910, it was announced that the Ford Motor Co. had bought land on the northeast corner of Woodward and Grand Boulevard to build a new sales building. Some Detroiters living in what was then an almost entirely residential area tried to block the building. However, work began a few months after the land sale after a judge cleared the way for commercial/industrial construction in the area.
This was a year of tremendous growth for Ford, which produced 20,000 cars, an increase of 100 percent over its output in 1909. By this time, the automaker employed 4,600 workers and 6,000 salesmen. Those numbers will only soar as Ford fully opened its Highland Park plant that same year, on Oct. 3, 1910.
The Ford Sales & Service Building opened at the end of the 1910. Kahn designed the building in the classical Beaux Arts style with a terra cotta exterior. Its original address was 1550 Woodward, but was renumbered in 1920 to 7310 Woodward.
When it was built, the structure had only four stories. With Ford’s sales soaring (it was now turning out almost 24,000 cars a month in 1913, more than it did in an entire year just four years earlier), the building was deemed too small, so work began on tacking a four-story addition onto the building. Kahn served as the architect for the 1914 addition, as well.
The addition was rushed to completion in order to host the Detroit Automobile Dealers Association Auto Show, which had found itself without a location to hold the annual event. The show ran Jan. 17-24, 1914. With the larger floorspace, attendance is 60 percent higher than the year before.
However, as Ford opened its facilities in Dearborn, the automaker began relocating departments. Ford sold the building in April 1919 to Stormfeltz-Loveley Co., a leading Detroit real estate company, which leased it as an “automotive industry exchange,” to be home to showrooms for various automakers and other tenants. Ford completed its move-out from the building in November 1919.
In 1920, the building once again hosted the Detroit Automobile Dealers Association Auto Show, from Feb. 14-21. The 19th annual auto show was spread across five floors of the building, making the show twice as large as any auto show previously held in Detroit. There were cars from 75 auto manufacturers and trucks of 50 makes on display.
Over the first few years of the decade, a number of tenants would move in. In 1920, the National Plate Glass Co. opened its headquarters in the building. A year later, the automaker Wills Sainte Claire opened a showroom in the building on May 16. The car was manufactured by C.H. Wills & Co. in Marysville, Michigan, from 1921 to 1926. Childe Harold Wills was Ford's first chief engineer and designer and is the man who came up with the Ford logo we know today. He would not be nearly as successful as his former employer and the building's original tenant, as Wills Sainte Claire stopped producing cars in 1927.
In 1923, the building hosted a showroom for Columbia Six automobiles, and two years later, it showcased Packard automobiles.
In 1926, Kahn was once again hired to work on the building, this time being hired by the Stormfeltz-Loveley Co., now billed as Michigan’s largest Realtors and a major developer of office towers and housing in the city, to “completely remodel” the structure. The structure is renamed the Stormfeltz-Loveley Building. It is believed that the existing arcade now in the building was designed and constructed as part of this renovation.
That same year, from May 29-June 5, the building hosted the Oil Burner & Electric Refrigeration trade show, harkening back to its previous days hosting the auto show.
Two years later, the Michigan State Farms & Land Bureau, Wolverine Aluminum Co. and Textile Bag Manufacturers Association moved into the building; the National Sign Service Co. opened its offices in the building a year later, in 1929. The following year, the United Master Steamfitters & Plumbers Association moves into the building.
From Model Ts to tees
Perhaps one of the more unusual tenants to call the building home was an 18-hole golf course on the top floor. In 1931, the Grandwood Indoor Golf School (named for the building's location at Grand Boulevard and Woodward) opened not only the school but an entire 600-yard, 18-hole clay golf course, complete with 250 live trees and water and sand traps, on the eighth floor. Besides enabling Detroiters to play golf year-round, the course hosted golf tournaments. The building also became home to the Boulevard Indoor Golf Club.
Radio stations, archers and a beauty school
In 1932, the building became the home of WMBC (Michigan Broadcasting Company) radio, the fore-runner of WJLB-FM, still a popular spot on the dial. It had its own orchestra perform for listeners from a studio inside the building.
The disc jockeys were joined that same year by the Lincoln Mutual Casualty Co., which opened offices in the building. Two years later, Cupples-Hesse Co., an envelope manufacturer, moved in, as well. In 1935, the Del-Mar Beauty School opened on the second floor and remained a tenant for decades. The Detroit Archers Indoor Range joined the golfers, opening on the fifth floor on Dec. 2, 1938.
The Boulevard Building
The building was renamed the Boulevard Building in 1939. Capitol Savings & Loan Co. opens on the third floor. The Michigan Milk Marketing Board moves into the building.
In 1942, the Grandwood golf course closed so that the Office of Production Management (OPM) could use its wide-open floorplate for the war effort. The golf course will not reopen.
Two years later, the Plastics Institute opened in the building on the second floor.
Home of the G-men and -women
In 1946, the building began an era of being home to state and federal offices. That year, the U.S. Employment Service (USES), offering job counseling and placement, opened on the eighth floor on March 11, replacing OPM in the former golf course space. USES would be joined on the eighth floor by the Civilian Production Administration. Meanwhile, the Temple Israel moved into the sixth floor.
A year later, the Boulevard Building was sold to the federal government to house government unemployment offices. It will go on to house a number of State departments, as well, including the Department of Labor, Michigan Employment Security Commission (MESC) and other State workers. In 1950, the Michigan State Employment Service opened in the building.
Two years later, in 1952, the State of Michigan bought the building from the federal government and continued moving governmental offices in, such as the State Farm Placement Office in 1953.
In 1956, the Wayne County Office of Vocational Rehabilitation for disabled people seeking aid and jobs opened in the building.
In 1962, the Defense Contract Information Center followed suit. It was where Michiganders could go to learn how to get federal contracts.
Two years after that, the building’s sixth floor became home to the Key Punch Training Center, offering IBM key punch operation for women and IBM tabulating and wiring for men, serving as many Detroiters’ first introduction to computers.
The terra cotta massacre
In March 1963, an old Briggs plant that had fallen to the State for unpaid taxes erupted into a major fire that destroyed surrounding buildings, including the Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church. Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, looking to deflect blame, pointed a finger at the State for not taking care of properties it owned in the city. One of the State-owned scapegoats was the Boulevard Building, which had a piece of cornice fall off in late 1962 or early 1963. Facing pressure from the City over this reputed poor stewardship, the State ripped the terra cotta off in 1965 rather than repair it. Once again, a familiar name was involved in this work on the building; Albert Kahn Associates performs the modernization. Thankfully, the arcade was left intact.
With its new look, the building saw the State of Michigan Labor Department move into the building in 1966. The Wayne County Handicapped Children’s Service joined it the same year.
New look means another new name
In 1969, the building once again found itself with a new name, the Department of Labor Building, though some still called it the Boulevard Building. It will continue to house the Michigan Employment Security Commission and other State offices for decades.
The building became home to the Michigan Employment Relations Commission in 1974. It would continue throughout the 1980s and '90s to house the MESC, helping places Michiganders in jobs from auto mechanics to fur finishers to Korean language translators to data processors. It also becomes home to other State offices, including a Michigan Secretary of State’s office.
The State moves out
In 1996, General Motors bought the Renaissance Center downtown. Four years later, the State of Michigan bought the former General Motors headquarters -- another Kahn-designed building -- a block away in New Center, and began to move offices out of the building at 7310 Woodward. The State renamed the old GM HQ “Cadillac Place.” Two years after the purchase, 7310 Woodward was vacant and listed for sale by the State.
It took a few years on the market, but in 2005, the State sold the building to Sky Group, parent company of Lakeshore Global, for $2.1 million. The building becomes the world headquarters for Lakeshore, which worked on everything from police stations in Iraq to water mains in Detroit.
In 2008, the Detroit Police Department leased space in the building and turns it into its Central District.
The building was included in the Jam Handy/North End-East Grand Boulevard Local Historic District in 2014.
A year later, the Detroit Police Department moved out, relocating to the building on the corner of West Grand Boulevard and the John C. Lodge Service Drive.
In 2018, Lakeshore sold the building to The Platform, a Detroit-based real estate developer that counts the Fisher Building among its holdings. However, Lakeshore remained a tenant. The Platform chooses to rename the building 7300 Woodward, even though its mailing address is 7310.