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Horace H. Rackham Educational Memorial Building

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1940–1941, Harley, Ellington and Day. 106 Farnsworth St.
  • (Photograph by Balthazar Korab)

This building, reduced to the simplest of classical forms, was the third unit of “an architecturally harmonious group” designed for the city's beautiful civic and cultural center. It was built for the Engineering Society of Detroit and the University of Michigan Extension Service with a contribution from Horace H. Rackham (1858–1933), one of the original stockholders in the Ford Motor Company, and Mary A. Rackham, both philanthropists. Harley, Ellington and Day of Detroit created a building with classical simplicity but contemporary influences. The reinforced-concrete structure is faced with smooth-cut white Georgia marble. Contrasting dark granite is used for the spandrels between windows, which are enriched with cast-bronze ornament. In its central section, bronze doors lead to the vestibule, and from here, the main foyer. Off the foyer is the large auditorium boldly colored in blue with molded bands of gold and red. Above the auditorium is a banquet hall. The central section connects the two wings of the building. On the east, the wing containing the engineering society holds lounges and meeting, game, and dining rooms; on the west, the wing containing the university has class and lecture rooms.

Marshall M. Fredericks sculpted groups of figures depicting education, sciences, engineering, and structural steel workers. These bas-relief white marble works are placed at the termini of four piers separating the five bronze double doors of the building's main entrance. This Rackham memorial building is reminiscent of the Horace H. Rackham Building in Ann Arbor ( WA7.3).

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert


What's Nearby


Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Horace H. Rackham Educational Memorial Building", [Detroit, 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, 86-87.

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