For many, the Maccabees Building is known for its sleek Art Deco stylings and stunning ceiling mosaics in the lobby. But it also was the birthplace of “The Lone Ranger” and “The Green Hornet.”
The 14-story building was designed by Albert Kahn and erected for the Maccabees, a fraternal organization that provided low-cost insurance to its members. In 1926, when ground was broken on this building at Woodward Avenue and Putnam Street, the order had 200,000 members in North America, and was particularly active in Michigan. Tenants started moving in as early as January 1927, but the formal opening wasn’t held until July 23, 1927, when 5,000 Maccabees members from around the country and Canada descended on the city.
“The magnificent temple of the Maccabees … is not only a monument to the solidarity and growth of the order, but a constant worldwide advertisement of Detroit as a city of marvelous growth,” the Detroit Free Press wrote of the dedication.
Among the building’s earliest tenants was WGHP, which switched its call letters to WXYZ in 1930. In its studio atop the Maccabees, the original “Ranger” -- which debuted Jan. 30, 1930 -- and “Hornet” -- which debuted Jan. 31, 1936 -- were created and recorded. They’d go on to become known worldwide.
On Oct. 9, 1948, WXYZ started TV broadcasting from the Maccabees Building. It was the second TV station in Michigan behind WWJ-TV.
The name was taken from the Maccabees of the Bible, a group of Jewish rebels who stood up against the Greeks to defend their religion. In 1960, the ’Bees flew the coop, relocating to suburban Southfield, and Detroit Public Schools took over for four decades. After DPS moved to the Fisher Building, Wayne State University bought the building in 2002, using it for administrative and departmental offices.