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Evolution of the Ford Service Building

At the corner of Woodward Avenue and Grand Boulevard in Detroit stands a rather depressing looking building that appears to date from the 1970s. It may surprise you to learn that the building actually dates from well over a hundred years ago.

The eight-story, Albert Kahn designed building at 7310 Woodward Avenue was first constructed in 1909 as a modest three-story structure by Ford Motor Company. It was called the Ford Service Building and its function was much like the service department at an auto dealership today.

The building was dramatically expanded in size in 1913. It grew from 100 feet along Grand Blvd. to a total of 320 feet, and five floors were added, making it one of the largest in Detroit at the time. For several years the Detroit auto show was held in the building until it outgrew the space available within.

Ford did not remain in the building for long, selling it in 1918 to the Stormfeltz-Loveley realty company and vacating the building the following year. It then became known as the Stormfeltz-Loveley Building.

The large open areas within the structure became home to several interesting tenants. In the 1930s, boxers practiced in the Chevrolet Gym and archers held contests in the indoor range. The Grandwood Golf Club claimed to be the world’s largest indoor facility, with 18 holes, water hazards, sand traps, and even live trees.

In 1939 the building was again sold and renamed the Boulevard Building. Not long after, the advent of WWII brought golf play to a halt as federal agencies moved into the building to conduct the war effort.

In 1965 the state of Michigan, owners of the building, decided the building needed updating. The exterior terra cotta cladding was removed and replaced by the depressing modern façade the building now wears.

The building is currently owned by The Platform and there are plans to clean the exterior and add some metallic ornamentation and a mural.

The Ford Service Building on the corner of Woodward and Grand Blvd. as originally constructed.
The Ford Service Building after the addition of 1913.
The building during 1947. (Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University)
The building as it looks in 2023. (Google)

By Michael G Smith