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A cornice is back on the Grinnell Building after 60 years

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You can call it a comeback

Courtesy of Sachse Construction

Back in 1958, many cornices on historic buildings in Detroit were removed due to falling pieces and modernization efforts. Historic preservationists and cornice lovers of the world, rejoice! Cornices are making a comeback downtown.

Over the weekend, crews shut down Woodward in order to replace one of the most noticeably absent cornices—the Grinnell Building at 1515 Woodward. This one didn’t overhang like others, but nonetheless, it was removed in 1958. Construction Manager Sachse Construction provided some photos to Curbed of the reinstallation.

Grinnell (left), Sanders (right), pre-installation
Courtesy of Sachse Construction
Exterior details on the Grinnell building, pre-installation
Courtesy of Sachse Construction
Cranes place the new cornice
Courtesy of Sachse Construction
A lovely cornice is back
Courtesy of Sachse Construction

Glassline, located in Plymouth, replicated the cornice by using old photos. They used a product called a GFRP (Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer) and created molds by hand to complete the replica. The team took about 16 weeks to develop the molds and create the proper finish for the cornice.

The Grinnell Building, designed by Albert Kahn, dates back to 1908 and housed a huge music store until 1981. The removal of this particular cornice was described as “perhaps Detroit’s most tragic example of a cornice destroyed in that year.” (You can see the description on page 26 of the Lower Woodward Report.)

The Grinnell Building and the neighboring Sanders Building were purchased by Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock about two years ago. Neumann\Smith are the architects on the renovation project and Kraemer Design Group is the historic consultant.