Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Guardian Building

In an era where banking industries were immense (the 1920s), Detroit was the most prosperous that it has ever been. The Union Trust Company was looking to create an image that displayed extreme elegance and prosperity and hired noted architect Wirt C. Rowland to create their masterpiece. Rowland was known for his innovative and provocative Art Deco style. The design for the Guardian Building was completed in 1927 and construction concluded in 1929. When completed, the Union Trust Building had 40 stories and, although the stock market crash of 1929 had devastating effects on the Union Trust Company, the building itself has withstood the test of time. 

Investors who believed in the future of Detroit saved the building and renamed it The Union Guardian Trust Company. Later the building was renamed as the Union Guardian Building and today it is simply known as the Guardian Building. Because of its occupants and the towers that stand out, the building was once known as ‘The Cathedral of Finance.’ In a time where traditions were followed, Rowland thought outside the box and gave visitors a kaleidoscope of colors to explore. Influenced by Native American and Aztecan arts and crafts, the Guardian Building was designed, created, and erected by native Michiganders. The Guardian Building is a pillar of Michigan roots, creativity, and expertise. The orange-tan color brick was later marketed as ‘Guardian Brick.’ Lined with tiles from Detroit’s very own Pewabic Pottery it has a strong foundation that stands for strength, commerce, and security.



Lobby of the Guardian Building, 1983

Guardian Building postcard, 1935

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