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WJR Radio Transmitting Building

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1934, Cyril Edward Schley. Sibley and Grange rds.
  • (Photograph by Balthazar Korab)

The WJR Radio Transmitting Building was built when the radio station moved its transmitting facility from its original location at Sylvan Lake to Riverview. This location was considered a great improvement because its flat terrain would be ideal for radio wave propagation. It was also eight miles closer to Detroit and even closer to Toledo, which gave it improved transmission in both directions.

The design by a Detroit architect who worked with C. Howard Crane exhibits all the hallmarks of the zigzag Art Deco style. Its jagged silhouette is stepped back to a central tower. Large rectangular brick piers create a symmetrical and balanced composition on all sides. Bays between the piers are filled with glass blocks. The most striking feature, however, is the lavish use of colorful ceramic tile on the facade. Geometric patterns in red, yellow, green, and black surround the doors and windows. The letters WJR were written in metal and neon down the single-mast antenna tower, which rose 733 feet—higher than any structure in the state at the time. The ornamentation and the Art Deco style turned a small utilitarian building into a flamboyant image for the modern age of radio. The Detroit Times (September 30, 1934) reported that engineers considered the tower to be the finest and most recent development in radio science and engineering.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert


What's Nearby


Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "WJR Radio Transmitting Building", [Riverview, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 126-126.

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