Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Palmer Park Apartment Buildings Historic District

The Palmer Park Apartment Buildings Historic District is located in Detroit, Michigan, roughly bounded by Pontchartrain Boulevard on the west, McNichols Road on the south, and Covington Drive on the northeast. A boundary increase in 2005 extended the District’s eastern border to Woodward Avenue.

The land was once part of the estate that belonged to wealthy Detroiter, and one-time U.S. Senator, Thomas W. Palmer. Originally intending to develop the area into a high-quality subdivision for urban middle-class families, Palmer passed away in 1913 before he could bring his idea to fruition. After Palmer’s death, much of the area that was to become the apartments was owned by what became the Merrill Palmer Institute.  They sold land with the assistance of Henry Glover Stephens, a real estate developer in and around Highland Park. They also approached Charles Agree for advice on how to develop the land.

A small area of the estate was purchased by Walter O. Briggs, Sr., the soon-to-be owner of the Detroit Tigers, who hired Albert Kahn in 1925 to design an apartment building at 1001 Covington. Between 1925 and 1965, more than forty buildings were constructed in the district, most of which were completed in the 1920s and 1930s.

The district represents a collection of some of the finest and most varied examples of apartment building design in the state of Michigan. The apartments were designed by multiple architects in addition to Albert Kahn, including Weidmaier and Gay, Robert West, and William Kapp. The buildings, which are mostly five-to-six-story structures that were built to reflect the latest concepts and technology of residential living, were originally designed primarily for middle- and upper-middle-class residents. The architectural styles of the apartment buildings in this district vary greatly, ranging from exotic styles, such as Egyptian, Spanish Colonial Revival, Mediterranean, Venetian, Tudor, and Moorish Revival, to incredibly plain styles, such as 1930s International and Art Moderne.

Today, the Palmer Park Apartment Buildings Historic District remains a popular place to live in Detroit. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 21, 1983. Some of the most well-known buildings in this district include Temple Israel, which used to serve as the center of the District’s heavy Jewish population before the late 1970s, and the Palmer Park Chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was originally constructed as a building for a Greek Orthodox Church.

Edited by Julia Teran and Gregory Piazza

 


RELATED ITEMS IN THE COLLECTION

Temple Israel, 1950s - 2014.003.376

Greek Orthodox Church before conversion, 1950s - 2014.003.377

View all items related to the Palmer Park Apartment Historic District