Wayne State University Buildings

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Wayne State University Buildings
Old Main WSU - Detroit Michigan.jpg
Old Main on WSU campus
Location Detroit, Michigan
 United States
Coordinates 42°21′16″N 83°4′2″W / 42.35444°N 83.06722°W / 42.35444; -83.06722Coordinates: 42°21′16″N 83°4′2″W / 42.35444°N 83.06722°W / 42.35444; -83.06722
Built 1895
Architect Malcomson & Higginbotham; Field, Hinchman & Smith
Architectural style Neoclassical, Queen Anne
NRHP Reference # 78001524[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP June 23, 1978
Designated MSHS January 19, 1957[2]

The Wayne State University Buildings historic district consists of three buildings on 4735-4841 Cass Avenue in Midtown Detroit, Michigan: the Mackenzie House (4735 Cass), Hilberry Theatre (4743 Cass), and Old Main (4841 Cass), all on the campus of Wayne State University.[3] The buildings were designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1957[2] and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.[1]

Mackenzie House[edit]

Mackenzie House (the Hilberry Theatre is to the right)

The Mackenzie House is a Queen Anne house, designed by Malcomson and Higginbotham and built in 1895. It was the home of David Mackenzie, principal of Central High School and founder of the College of the City of Detroit.[4]

In the mid-1970s, the Mackenzie House was slated for demolition, until a group of Wayne State students protested. Their successful effort created a new organization, Preservation Wayne. The building now serves as the offices of the organization, renamed Preservation Detroit.[5]

Hilberry Theatre[edit]

Hilberry Theatre

The Hilberry Theatre was designed by the architectural firm of Field, Hinchman and Smith (predecessor of Smith, Hinchman and Grylls) and built in 1916–17 as the First Church of Christ Scientist.[6] The auditorium was designed to seat more than 1,500 congregants.[6] The Christian Science congregation used the building until 1961, when they sold it to Wayne State University. WSU remodeled the interior to create a theatre to seat 532 people, serving as a repertory theater.[6] The building was re-christened in honor of Clarence B. Hilberry, the fourth president of WSU, and reopened in January 1964.

Old Main[edit]

Old Main, c. 1904

Old Main was designed by Malcomson and Higginbotham and built between 1895 and 1896.[7] Its original use was to house Detroit's Central High School. The original building plan had 103 rooms arranged in a "T" shape, with an auditorium which seated over 2,000 people. In 1908, a wing was added housing gymnasiums, laboratories, and shops.[7]

The function of the building began to change in 1917, when Detroit Junior College opened its doors in a part of the building. The enrollment in the college grew, crowding the building and the high school still housed there.[7] In 1923, the College of the City of Detroit (CCD) replaced the Detroit Junior College, crowding the building even more. Finally, in 1926, Central High School moved out of the building, leaving CCD as the primary occupant, along with a smaller College High School.[7] In 1928, the latter closed, leaving CCD as the sole tenant.[7] Five years later, Wayne State University was formed.

A large wing on Warren Avenue was added in 1937. The building continued to serve Wayne State, and in 1994 received major renovations and a new addition.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b "Wayne State University Historic District". Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Retrieved September 2, 2010. 
  3. ^ Campus map from Wayne State University
  4. ^ Mackenzie House from Michigan Historical Markers
  5. ^ Preservation Detroit history
  6. ^ a b c Hilberry Theater/First Church of Christ Scientist from Detroit1701.org
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Partners in Education: Old Main and Wayne", Patricia Bartkowski, from the Walter P. Reuther Library

Further reading[edit]

  • Hill, Eric J. and John Gallagher (2002). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3. 
  • Meyer, Katherine Mattingly and Martin C.P. McElroy with Introduction by W. Hawkins Ferry, Hon A.I.A. (1980). Detroit Architecture A.I.A. Guide Revised Edition. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-1651-4. 

External links[edit]