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Globe Tobacco Company Building

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1888, A. Chapotin, builder; 1984 rehabilitation, Louis G. Redstone. 407 E. Fort St.
  • (Photo by Karen Kingsley)

In 1871 Detroit and Windsor manufacturers, including Hiram A. Walker, who founded the Canadian distillery, established the Globe Tobacco Company. The tobacco company cured Virginia and Kentucky leaf tobacco, and made cigars and pipe and chewing tobacco in this six-story, red brick building. The structure employs a construction method frequently used for mills from 1880 to 1900 and that became popular because it spanned large spaces and provided an inexpensive means of fire protection. Masonry load-bearing walls could contain the fire, while heavy timber floor beams supported by massive wooden posts provided a compact, nearly fireproof ceiling. First developed in the factories of New England, this system was known as “slow-burning construction.” The interior of the building followed the open warehouse plan, while its exterior mirrors the powerful walls of Richardson's Marshall Field Store in Chicago.

By 1925 the Globe Tobacco Company, no longer in business, abandoned the building but retained ownership. The structure then had numerous tenants and became dilapidated. In 1984 it was rehabilitated to the designs of Redstone (1903–2002) into an energy-efficient office building, which included gutting it to its support beams, wood floors, and brick walls; replacing the original windows with custom-made thermal windows; and cutting a glass atrium through the building's core, to allow a view of its framework and its skylight in a dramatic vertical space.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert

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