In Detroit, you find extraordinarily attractive buildings in unusual locations. Kercheval, from Mount Elliott to the new Daimler Chrysler plant, is not the most attractive stretch of the city, but this office building is a very appealing illustration of the architect ken when it came to building modest office buildings.
Frederick M. Sibley was a Detroit lumber baron and industrialist. One of his major contribution to the development of Detroit was his lumber firm, but another resulted from his cooperation with August Freuhauf. They contributed to the invention of the trailer truck. Early trucks, such as those Henry Ford attempted to produce before the founding of the Ford Motor Company, were delivery vans. Sibley and Freuhauf came up with the idea of building a trailer that might be pulled by a truck. Originally, they intended to transport lumber, but their idea developed and expanded and, after World War I, trailer trucks became a common means of shipping goods. The Freuhauf company, for many years, played a dominant role in building trailers helping to make Detroit the industrial metropolis it became.
The Sibley Lumber Company needed an office building, so that had this magnificent structure erected on Kercheval. It is a Neo-Classical design featuring dark red brick contrasted with very attractive gray limestone. If you count them, you will see eleven bays on the Kercheval front of this structured. Each is separated from the next with a brick pillar. Rectangular transoms with carved limestone cartouches separate the first and second floors. Limestone pilasters flank the dominating entrance, each with Corinthian capitals. There is limestone belt coursing at the frieze line. Note the several limestone medallions on the parapet above the entrance.
Architectural Style: Classical Revival as adapted to a modest
but very impressive office building.
Architect: Unknown to me
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites: P 25246 Listed: April 20, 1989
National Register of Historic Sites: Listed April 4, 1991
Use in 2003. This is an abandoned building. All of the attractive windows are boarded. It is not falling into decay but the building also shows no signs of recent care or use.
Photo: July, 2003 Ren Farley
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