Maccabees Building

The Maccabees Building is a historic building located in Midtown Detroit, at 5057 Woodward Avenue. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. It is a part of Wayne State University. The building consists of a five-story base which covers the entire site. The nine-story spine sits above this rising to a height of 197 feet (60 m) with ten-story wings buttressing each corner. The building's exterior resembles the letter "H" with this clearly evident on the forth through tenth story floorplans. The high-rise truss tower features Art Deco and Romanesque details which include large arched windows on the ground and second level with rose windows accenting the second floor. Windows on the tenth and fourteenth floor are arched with decorative spandrel panels. The exterior is faced with limestone. The entrance is recessed in a three-story barrel vault arch which continues into the building to form the lobby ceiling. Exterior carving was completed by noted sculptor Corrado Parducci. The central section is topped by a radio broadcast tower. This was originally the broadcast tower for WXYZ radio (both WXYZ-AM and WXYZ-FM (now WRIF), and television, until the station moved to new facilities in 1959. Some sources put the height from the base to tip of antenna at 450 feet (137 m). From 1960 to 1992, it served as the headquarters of Detroit Public Schools.

Construction on the building began in 1926, and completed in 1927. The building was constructed for the fraternal organization Knights of the Maccabees which later established the Royal Maccabees Insurance Company. Surplus space in the building was leased to other businesses, including retail business on the ground floor and office space in the upper floors. One noteworthy tenant was Detroit's radio and television station WXYZ which had its studios, offices and broadcast facilities in the Maccabees Building from 1930 until 1959. From 1959 until 2001, the studios, transmitter, and broadcast tower were used by WDET-FM. The " Lone Ranger" radio show debuted and was broadcast from this building in 1933. It later went on to become a popular television show and had movie spin-offs. During the 1950s, Soupy Sales performed in the lower level studio. In 1960, The Maccabees Insurance Company relocated its headquarters to a new building in the northern suburb of Southfield. In 1986, it built new 251,000-square-foot (23,300 m 2) office building, once again in Southfield. These newer structures are also sometimes referred to as the Maccabees Building. When The Maccabees organization vacated the building in 1960, the Detroit Public School System (DPS) purchased it for a headquarters. From 1960 to 1992, it served as the headquarters of Detroit Public Schools. It officially became the School Center Building but the Maccabees name remained visible on the exterior. The Maccabees Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. In 2002, DPS paid the owner of the Fisher Building $24.1 million to purchase five floors to house administrative offices citing the high cost of renovations needed at the Maccabees Building to comply with building and safety codes. That same year, Wayne State University purchased the Maccabees Building for additional office space. The building now houses offices for Wayne State University in Midtown Detroit. The building houses university offices, communication equipment, retail space, and department offices for a number of the University's academic departments. The 14th. floor was recently renovated to accommodate the Computer Science Department.


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