Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Grand Circus Park Historic District

The Grand Circus Park Historic District is located along Woodward Avenue in Detroit and is roughly bounded by Clifford, John R, and Adams streets. Established in 1850 as part of Judge Augustus Woodward’s plan to rebuild the city after the Great Fire of 1805, the park includes antique statues and old-fashioned fountains. Woodward’s geometric street plan paid homage to his masonic roots. Starting at Campus Martius, he divided the city into equilateral triangles and then bisected each angle with a perpendicular line. Both Campus Martius and Grand Circus Park derive their names from Woodward’s reverence for ancient Rome and his vision for Detroit’s future greatness.

The district includes all of the buildings surrounding the five-acre Grand Circus Park and also includes the Michigan Mutual Liability Company Complex on W. Adams. The eastern half of the park includes the Russell Alger Memorial Fountain, which was designed by architect Henry Bacon in 1921, and contains a statue of an allegorical figure designed by Daniel French that symbolizes Michigan. Also in the eastern half of the park is a statue of Mayor William Cotter Maybury designed by Adolph Weinman in 1922. 

The western half of the park includes the Edison Fountain and a statue of Mayor Hazen Pingree. The statues of the two mayors originally faced each other across Woodward Avenue. Following the excavation of the underground garage in the late 1950’s, somehow the statue of Mayor Maybury ended up facing the opposite direction. In total there are approximately 40 commercial buildings in the district that were designed and built between the late 19th century and the early 20th century by noted architects such as Albert Kahn, Daniel Burnham, C. Howard Crane, and Gordon W. Lloyd. The buildings range in height, from two to 18 stories, and exhibit many architectural styles including Beaux-Arts, Neo-classical, Gothic Revival, and Tudor Revival. The most notable buildings in the Grand Circus Park Historic District are the David Whitney Building, the David Broderick Tower, the Kales Building, the Central United Methodist Church, the Detroit Opera HouseComerica Park, and the Adams Theater which has been demolished.

The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.



Aerial photo of Grand Circus Park, 1926 - 2009.019.098

Edison Memorial Fountain in Grand Circus Park, 1984 - 2010.033.275

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