Mellus Newspaper Building

1661 Fort Street, Lincoln Park

This is one of the most humble buildings in the Detroit area to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  In 1933, William Mellus founded a newspaper to serve growing Lincoln Park.  He named it the Lincoln Parker.   As the suburb grew, I presume the circulation increased and he needed more space for his enterprise.  The building you see pictured above opened in 1941.  In 1985, the Mellus Newspaper, The Lincoln Parker, was sold to the Heritage Newspaper chain owned by prosperous Heinz Prechter.  The following year, the newspaper firm moved out of this building.  It has been idle since that time.

The Lincoln Park Downtown Development Authority, for some years, sought to attract new businesses and new employment to their suburb, one whose population fell from 54,000 in 1960 to 35,000 in 2008.  The stretch of West Jefferson Avenue was once a vibrant shopping area lined with small shops on both sides.  That has changed and, by the early 2000s, there were many vacant stores, along with some quick food establishments.  As noted, the population in this suburb has fallen sharply. The Lincoln Park Downtown Development Authority found a health care firm that was willing to erect a new building on the site of the Mellus Building and the next door structure, the undistinguished Polack Building that was once home to Polack Jewelers.  In November, 2009 the Development Authority signed a contract for the removal of the Mellus and Pollack Buildings.

There was, however, much controversy about this.  The Mellus Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because it was once a fine example of Art Deco design as applied to a small commercial building facing a busy highway.  The building, I presume, has deteriorated greatly in the 25 or so years that it has been vacant.  If you walk along the Jefferson Avenue sidewalk or drive by, you may not appreciate the porcelain enamel panels on the front, the extensive use of curved glass blocks in the windows at the entryway and the steel casement windows in the front.  These are classical distinguishing elements of the Art Deco style that was popular in the United States from the mid-1920s to the end of the 1930s.  If you have had the pleasure of walking through Miami Beach neighborhoods south of Lincoln Road, you have seen many beautiful illustrations of Art Deco design as applied to modest sized buildings. The buildings in Miami Beach south of Lincoln have been restored to their glory providing one of this nation's more interesting architectural experiences.

There is a strong historical preservation group in Lincoln Park.  They preserved the old Lincoln Park Post Office on Southfield Road and then sought to retain the Mellus Building. Developers realize that Lincoln Park’s population and tax base has plummeted in recent decades so more jobs and tax generating properties are needed to maintain the quality of life in the community.   Preservations proposed that the Mellus Building be remodeled and used for a commercial purpose, but did not have a purchaser. On May 13, 2010; this National Register of Historic Places building was demolished.

Architect: Unknown to me
Date of construction: 1941
Architectural style: Art Deco
Use in 2010: Demolished May 13, 2010.
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites:
National Register of Historic Places:  #05000716, Listed July 29, 2005
Photograph:  Ren Farley; November 15, 2009
Description updated: May, 2010

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