Photographer's Note

I'll finish the interior of this old building for now with this end of the day shot. The black panel here is another of the panels installed that tell about downtown's other architectural gems. This panel shows the David Stott Building.

The Depression hit Detroit hard. In 1929, 5,337,000 vehicles had been built in Detroit. The 1930 number dropped down to 3,363,000. In 1931 that number went down even more to 1,332,000. Unemployment on Sept. 25, 1930, reached 19,412 and in 24 hours that number jumped to more than 65,000. On September 29 the number was more than 75,000.

Just before the depression the Union Trust Bank had merged with several smaller banks creating the Guardian Detroit Union Group whose assets included 40% of the city's banking resources. When the depression hit the bank was hit hard in the chain reaction started with the losses in the auto industry. Umemployed could not pay mortgages, the bank's collateral and real estate plummeted so the bank brought in no money. They were able to get some federal assistance but it was not enough and the bank went out of business, after only a few years in their brand new "cathedral of finance".

During the war Detroit boomed again with production, but of bombers, tanks and ships. The Guardian Building was used as an army command center for production of ordinance. After the war Detroit was hit hard again with manufacturing jobs being spread first to the suburbs then out of state. The Guardian Building was auctioned off, eventually coming into the hands of the utility company, MichCon. In the late 1990s the building's architectural firm moved into the banking hall, making it their headquarters. And finally, today, the building has been reopened to the public with its Pure Detroit store and a small bank branch.

I caught this sole person leaving the current bank tucked in the back corner of the hall. I can imagine when it came to closing time in 1929 there would have been throngs of people flowing out of the elevators and rushing out of the banking hall. But today, just like the city of Detroit, the building is a grand shell housing a shrunken population much like the giant temples and basilicas of the Roman Fora after the fall of Rome. Only the colors of the past remain and stories of when the buildings and streets were filled with people. But it still is being well cared for and hopefully that will be one of many things that help turn things around.

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Additional Photos by Paul Mastrogiacomo (pamastro) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2679 W: 164 N: 2696] (7296)
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