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Urban Consulate finds new home in historic Mackenzie House

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The David Mackenzie House
Michelle & Chris Gerard

Last year, Urban Consulate opened its doors in a historic home on Second Avenue. After a successful first year, the Knight Cities-supported organization has found a new home in a familiar house — the David Mackenzie House on Cass Avenue.

Designed by Malcomson and Higginbotham, the Queen Anne home was built for David Mackenzie, who founded Detroit Junior College, which would years later become Wayne State University. The house is owned by Wayne State, and has been home to Preservation Detroit (located on the second floor) for years.

The Urban Consulate has hosted weekly parlor talks this past year, which often become standing room only. Guests discuss important issues facing the city and have the chance to meet others concerned about urban issues. Guests and speakers have included many from Detroit and some from around the world.

Claire Nelson, Consul General, says that, “The original idea for the Consulate was like an "embassy for cities" — with a nod to the salons of the Left Bank in Paris and the Harlem Renaissance. We love the elegance and intimacy of Mackenzie House for our weekly parlor talks & meetings with visiting guests.”

Nelson notes the importance of having discussions about current events within the space of historic buildings, as to connect the past with the present. As Jane Jacobs said, "Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings."

The group brought furniture, light fixtures, and decor over from their last space, which was sourced with the help of Patrick Thompson Design. The Consulate is open for weekly parlor talks and other conversations and meetings by appointment. Public events are listed online. Here’s a look around the new (old) parlor.

Mackenzie House

4735 Cass Ave., Detroit, MI 48202