DETROIT (WWJ) – It’s an unfortunate chapter in the storied history of the old Wayne County Building in Detroit.

In an exclusive story by WWJ’s City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas, we find the building is now a bed and bath for some of the homeless in Detroit.

Close to a dozen homeless people sleep in the oversized extended window sills along the exterior, the unsavory condition of the building also raises sanitary concerns as human waste litters the entrance to the building on Randolph.


How did it come to this for the building considered by many to be an architectural masterpiece — which was listed on the National Register Of Historic Places in 1975?

Detroit political commentator Adolph Mongo blames Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano.

“He has been an absolute disaster – they should never have left that building and I blame the county commissioners agreeing to that,” Mongo said.

“It’s unfortunate we’ve got all these homeless folks,” said Mongo. “It’s a flop-house now, this is one of the legacies of the Bob Ficano ‘I stayed too long’ administration.”

The move to vacate the building came after a close 8-7 vote.

Commissioner Kevin McNamara was a part of the vote against the move out of the building.

“Getting rid of this building was a terrible move,” said McNamara, “I voted against it.”

“I loved this place, I never wanted to leave. I fought it for years.”

The building was vacated in 2009, the Guardian Building was purchased to house Wayne County administration, and the old building, described on Wikipedia as “one of the nation’s finest surviving examples of Roman Baroque Revival architecture,” was abandoned. It’s made of copper, granite and stone.

State Rep. Phil Cavanagh, who is running against Ficano in the upcoming election, sat on the commission at the time, he tells WWJ he voted ‘yes’ because as part of the deal the county was to purchase it – but that never happened.

Ficano defended the purchase of the Guardian Building saying the move will save money for the taxpayers of Detroit.

“I have a study, right here for you, that does the analysis that we were able to save about $2.8 million a year.”

“Of course you want to see, but there has been a lot revival in downtown and I think what you are going to see is people are going to be interested in that building,” said Ficano.

Cavanagh refutes the claim that the city is saving money:

“It’s not saving the county any money, I believe our payment out there is over $5 million.”


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