Michigan State University Detroit Center/
Peninsular Engraving Company Building

3408 Woodward at the intersection with Erskine Street
 next to the former Beth El Synagogue

Before the era of modern computers, printing was a very labor intensive industry. For decades type was set by hand, not by a computer. And there was a need for engravers to produce images that could be reproduced in advertisements. This building was designed, in 1919, by Albert Kahn for the Peninsular Engraving Company. This is the building to the right in the photograph above. This is a 22,000 square foot two story building.

You might think that in that era of Detroit’s fantastic economic and demographic boom, that valuable land along the city’s major thoroughfare would be devoted to high rise buildings that would generate great revenue.  Apparently that was not the situation.  The attractive structure that Kahn designed is not classical in origin.  I am not sure how you would describe its style, but it is an appealing structure adjoining the Beth El Synagogue that was basically designed by George Mason, but with assistance from Albert Kahn who was, I believe, a member of that congregation when he worked on the design.

In 2008, the University of Michigan opened an office in Detroit nearby at the corner of Woodward and what used to be Myrtle, but is now known as Martin Luther King.  In 2009, Michigan State University rented this former print shop designed by Albert Kahn for a seven-year span and then opened offices here.  Perhaps, the most important activity here is an admission office for the East Lansing school.  I believe that this building was vacant for a very long span before Michigan State University rented it, but I have never seen a chronological list of former occupants.

If you are familiar with the history of this structure, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Architect: Albert Kahn
Date of construction: 1919
Use in 2017: Detroit site for Michigan State University
City of Detroit Designated Historic District: Not listed
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites: Not listed
National Register of Historic Places: Not listed
Photograph: Ren Farley; March 11, 2010
Description updated: January, 2017

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