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Penobscot Building

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1927–1929, Wirt C. Rowland of Smith, Hinchman and Grylls. 645 Griswold St.
  • Penobscot Building (Photograph by Kathryn Bishop Eckert)
  • (Photograph by Kathryn Bishop Eckert)

For half a century, the Penobscot Building was Detroit's tallest skyscraper—until the completion of the GM Renaissance Center ( WN7) in 1977. The simple, forty-seven-story, Indiana limestone building rises unimpeded from a base of gray Mahogany granite for thirty floors to a series of setbacks that terminate in an apex surmounted by a red neon beacon. The building is ornamented with images of Native Americans and motifs carved in the travertine around the grand, four-story entrance arch on Griswold Street and in the metalwork (in particular, the elevator doors) of the main-floor lobby. The H-shaped plan accommodates the lobby and shops on the first floor, banking quarters on the first five floors, and offices above.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert

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