Parke-Davis Research Laboratory

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Parke-Davis Research Laboratory

The Roberts Riverwalk Hotel and Residence Detroit, formerly the Parke-Davis Research Laboratory also once known as Building 55-Detroit Research, is located on Joseph Campau Street at the Detroit River, in Detroit, Michigan. The former research facility was redeveloped as a boutique luxury hotel located on the Detroit International Riverfront. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976.


Parke-Davis moved its facilities to this location along the Detroit River in the 1870s to take advantage of the transportation provided by the river and nearby rail lines. The company eventually built 26 still-extant buildings in the area; the Park-Davis campus as a whole, now known as the Stroh River Place is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. However, the most significant structure in the group, the Parke-Davis Research Laboratory, is individually recognized as a National Historic Landmark.

The Research Laboratory was built in 1902 after Parke-Davis relocated the Detroit Boat Club to Belle Isle. The Detroit architectural firm of Donaldson & Meier designed the original building; later additions were designed by Albert Kahn. The building is a three-story brick building measuring approximately 120' x 40', and is typical example of public architecture of the period.


This building was the first industrial research laboratory in the U.S. established for the specific purpose of conducting pharmacological research, inaugurating the commercial pure science approach which has driven the rapid development of pharmaceutical technology.

Later history and current use

The research laboratory was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976. In 1979, Parke-Davis sold its property in Detroit, including the Research Laboratory, to the Stroh family (of Stroh Brewery Company).

The complex has been redeveloped for mixed use. The laboratory was eventually remodeled and served as a hotel and residence. National Park Service staff had recommended withdrawal of landmark status in 2002 due to loss of the building's historic integrity during the conversion.

The Roberts Riverwalk Hotel & Residence Detroit opened May 2011.