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Detroit News from Lafayette Ave.

In 1916 Albert Kahn designed the Detroit News Building with his associate, Ernest Wiliby for George Booth. Kahn and Booth had worked together before when Kahn built the home for Booth and his wife, Ellen, in the Arts and Crafts Style of their Cranbrook Estate. Surely they had known each other not only as prominent businessmen in Detroit’s circles, but also from the Society of Arts and Crafts in which both Booth and Kahn were founding members in 1906.

The pioneers of printing: Gutenberg, Plantin, Caxton & Franklin

The structure of the Detroit News Building was made of reinforced concrete and footprint takes up a full block at Lafayette and Second Avenues. The symbolism of the ornamentation lends itself to an Arts and Crafts influence – specifically with the printers marks and the figures of the pioneers in printing: Gutenberg, Plantin, Caxton, and Franklin. Additionally we see carved arch moldings and ironwork detail above the first floor windows.

Lamp detail

Detail of printers marks

My historic postcard of the news room shows us the beautiful interior wainscoted in oak with flat coffered ceilings.

Postcard of the Detroit News newsroom

The January 1918 edition of the Architectural Forum ran a four page article on the building, and closed with this comment, “The Detroit News Building, aside from being a success as the home of a large manufacturing enterprise, is also of significant value in being the source of keen satisfaction to the employees of the news paper, and the inspiration of countless people who pass it by in the course of their daily life.”

The postcard caption: The work of the large editorial staff of The Detroit News is a supplemented by the three greatest new gathering agencies hundreds of special and staff correspondents in America and abroad, five photographic services and 15 “featured syndicates.” The News has 17,000 volumes in it’s private library. 

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