Last month, ground broke at one of the largest developments downtown. The Monroe Blocks development will bring an office tower and various residential and mixed-use buildings to the two city blocks. Much debate has ensued over the Albert Kahn-designed National Theater, which will be torn down and the archway in the facade will be used over a pedestrian walkway. The block was once home to a lively theater district, with all but the National Theater gone.
But what about the other buildings on the block?
Photographer Michelle Gerard has shared family photos with Curbed, from when her second great-uncle John M. Green, a member of the Watchmakers Guild, owned a jewelry store and watch repair shop at 1010 Farmer for 19 years. This building and its neighbor will be razed for the Monroe Blocks development.
Green was born in Ontario in 1913 and married Agnes Irene Mullins in Detroit in 1951. Green died at the age of 49 in 1963. In the photos, we can see a slice of life from Detroit in the midcentury, when storefronts lined the downtown streets.
Gerard doesn’t have a lot of information about the shop, but the sudden interest in the property over the last two years, along with the news of development, sparked a search through her family’s records.
Few historical photos are available of this side of the block—most photos either show the theaters along Monroe or the area surrounding Cadillac Tower on the next block over (seen on Bedrock’s Monroe Blocks site). But we can see that there was once a thriving business district, and in a few years, will once again be a vibrant urban district.