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Historic Walking Tour Of Detroit

June 9, 2014 8:00 AM

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Fisher Building in Detroit. (File photo)

Fisher Building in Detroit. (File photo)

Detroit has a unique history with a rich past, and a lot of its buildings have interesting pasts as well. Check this list for the best destinations to visit on an historic walking tour of Detroit.
Masonic Temple
500 Temple Ave.
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 832-7100
www.themasonic.com

The Masonic Temple, now used as a music and event venue, was constructed in 1920, and construction ended in 1926. The first group to play there was the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and since then the venue has hosted groups from rock music to weddings. The original design included three theaters (one of which was not completed but is sometimes used by movie producers), a chapel, an over 17,500-square-foot drill hall, two ballrooms, a cafeteria and more. All of the artwork throughout the building was completed under the direction of Italian artists, and the building’s lobby is modeled after a castle interior that Corrado Parducci (the building’s sculptor) once saw in Sicily.

Boston Edison District
Chicago Blvd. Between Linwood and Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI
(313) 883-4360
www.historicbostonedison.org

If you decide to take a guided walking tour (with the Detroit Historical Society, for instance), make sure to add the Boston Edison historical district to your tour. The district contains over 900 houses, including styles such as English Revival, Roman and Greek Revival, Italian Renaissance, Prairie and more. Most of the houses were built between 1905-1925 and are considered mansions. Make sure to keep an eye out for unique features such as leaded glass windows, stone detailing and slate or tile roofs.

Related: Best Historical Home Tours In Detroit

Fox Theater
2211 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 471-3200
www.foxtheatredetroit.net

You may have to buy a ticket to a performance or hop on a tour to actually roam the Fox Theater, but it’s definitely worth it. The theater opened in 1928 as a “movie palace” for the Fox Theater chain, and received National Historic Landmark status in 1988; it was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. It was designed by C. Howard Crane, who had designed over 250 theaters by 1926. He considered the Fox his best. The Fox today holds the record for being the “largest continually operating theater in the country.”

Fisher Building and Theater
3011 W. Grand Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48202
www.broadwayindetroit.com

The Fisher Building started with a blank check and instructions to build “the most beautiful building in the world” – instructions given to architect Albert Kahn by the seven Fisher brothers. In 1929, phase one was completed, to the tune of $10 million. Originally, three phases were to be completed, but due to the Great Depression, only the one was built. The building’s gorgeous theater seats just over 2,000 people, and a free parking structure is attached. Make sure to check out a Broadway show there at some point.

The Whitney
4421 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 832-5700
www.thewhitney.com

End your walking tour of Detroit by getting a bite to eat at The Whitney, a mansion originally built in 1894. The Whitney actually offers guided champagne tours for groups of four or larger in the afternoon by appointment only. Tours can be booked for 1 p.m. or 3:30 p.m., and take about 30-45 minutes. If you’d rather scope out the mansion on your own, have lunch or dinner there and then walk around a bit – the house has many floors, including the dining room on the first floor and Ghost Bar on the top floor. The Whitney took four years to build, and includes 52 rooms (21,000 square feet), 218 windows, 20 fireplaces, a secret vault and an elevator. David Whitney commissioned the house to be built, and it became The Whitney, “An American Restaurant in an American Palace,” in 1986.

Related: Best Historic Detroit Tours

Liz Parker is a freelance writer and a University of Michigan graduate with a degree in Creative Writing and Literature. Her work can be found at Examiner.com and yesnofilms.com.
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