Buick Motor Car Company/
Canfield Lofts

460 West Canfield near the Cass Corridor, Wayne State University
and Detroit’s Cultural Center

David Buick began building gasoline engines in the late 1890s. Walter Marr built wagons. By the turn of the Twentieth Century, they were cooperating to build automobiles. In May of 1903, the Buick Motor Car company was organized in Detroit. The firm needed capital and they found investors in Flint who began construction of a building for Buick in September of that year. An absence of funds forced Buick to move production to Jackson, Michigan briefly but the firm then returned to Flint. The developed a reputation for a high quality and durable vehicle. In 1908—just before Mr. Ford developed the Model T—Buick led the nation in sales.

So far as I know, Buick never operated an assembly line in Detroit but, in 1921, the firm built the structure that you see to serve as their Detroit headquarters. You observe a utilitarian institution—a factory-like structure removed from West Canfield with a small office building facing the street.

I do not know when Buick ceased using this facility. However, it was remodeled in the 1990s. The location is attractive—close to downtown Detroit, the New Center area, the Cultural Center and Wayne State. The remodeling architects created 35 lofts in this building, each with brick walls, hardwood floors and an 11 foot ceiling. Fitting for a building strongly linked to the vehicle industry, there is indoor parking for those who own or rent in the Canfield Lofts. The city provided a substantial incentive for investing in this property—a dozen year tax abatement.

I do not know much about the architects who designed this building in the early 1920s. This website includes, however, another one of their accomplishments, that is, the Westinghouse Building at 1535 Sixth Street in Corktown. Similar to the building shown on this page, it was constructed for commercial purposes but, with the gradual influx of population to center city Detroit, it was converted into lofts. I believe that it is now known as the Sixth Street Lofts.

Architects: Love, Davenport and Patterson
Date of Construction: 1922
Architectural style: Functional industrial with accompanying offices
Architects for the Renovation: Archive Design Studio
Date of Renovation: 2000
Use in 2016: Thirty-five loft condominiums
City of Detroit Local Historic District: Not listed
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites: Not listed
National Registry of Historic Sites: Not listed
Description updated: January, 2016

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