Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Hammond Building

Built as the office building for Detroit’s wealthy meat-packer and progenitor of refrigerated rail cars for meat, George H. Hammond, the Hammond Building was both Detroit’s and Michigan’s first skyscraper and the tallest building in Michigan when completed. When architect Harry W.J. Edbrooke of Chicago read of Hammond’s plans for the building, he went to Detroit, provided the lowest bid and was granted the contract to build the building for $575,000. Hammond died in 1886 at the age of 48, just as planning was getting started on his new office building. However, Hammond’s widow Ellen, purchased the land for the building for $350,000 and took it upon herself to finish the work as a landmark and memorial to her late husband.

The Hammond Building was one of the largest masonry buildings ever built in the United States. Made of red brick and stone, the building featured the Richardsonian Romanesque style, similar to the Grand Army of the Republic Building. The ten-story building held 246 offices and stores on the ground floor.

The opening date of the Hammond Building is ambiguous. Many tenants moved in before the interior work was done. On Nov. 3, 1889, the Detroit Free Press wrote that the building was “rapidly approaching completion,” but eight months later the structure was said to be finished, however work on exterior ornamental detail was still in process. Nevertheless, when the building was completely open, Detroiters were excited; many people came from all over Michigan just to see their first skyscraper. The height of the building made it the perfect for the location for the local weather bureau to signal ships on the river of approaching storms and a great spot for the Detroit Tigers, who had an office in the building, to fly a flag signaling fans that the team was playing a game that day.

Demolition of the Hammond Building began on Aug. 17, 1956 to make way for the new 12-million-dollar headquarters of the National Bank of Detroit. After several mergers, the Bank and building were purchased by JP Morgan Chase & Co. in 2004 and renamed Chase Tower. Today, the building is owned by Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert and is known as the Qube.



Hammond Building postcard, 1915

Postcard showing the Hammond Building across from City Hall, 1915

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