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Discovering Detroit: The Fisher Building

Updated: Nov 5, 2022

By Marcela

Image by whockman from Pixabay

Detroit is a city known internationally for its automotive industry and sometimes for its not-so-favorable aspect of abandonment, which it has worn in recent decades since its depreciation; however, lately the city is recovering life. Beyond stereotypes, we must see the places near where we live from another perspective; only in this way, can we find and admire the different sites that show us the history, art and culture of a place that, despite the ravages of time, is resurfacing with great force.

The Fisher brothers were dedicated to the automotive industry. They were very successful making car parts and investing in different transportation industries, which is why they decided to invest in Detroit which at the time had great prestige; they wanted to give back to the city. A Free Press headline in January 1927 referred the emerging Fisher Building as an “Enormous Testimony to Their Faith in Detroit.”

Located north of downtown Detroit, we can find the 445-foot, 30 story, art deco Fisher Building, named for its founders who opened it in 1928 after 15 months of construction. The Fisher Building is a landmark of the city. It was built mainly as the headquarters of the automobile manufacturing company, but with the intention of also housing a commercial and entertainment center for the city. This remarkably ambitious project was billed as the Cathedral of Commerce, and by the 1970s the Fisher had 385 tenants, 20 stores, the Recession Club, two art galleries, a large theater, and also housed the important Detroit radio station, WJR. More than 5,000 people worked there, with 21,000 coming through the building’s doors every day.

The Fisher has more than 325,000 square feet of exterior marble, and it was decorated inside by the Hungarian artist Mariotti, who embodied his work with symbolism. The three-story vaulted ceilings of the lobby were hand-painted. Along the walls of the arcade there are 26 arches with symbolic designs and themes such as agriculture, art, justice, knowledge, music, navigation, peace and saving. The lobby contains architectural details worth admiring by visitors and experts, and the Fisher Building, an architectural jewel, is open to the public.

Detroit is a city that deserves to resurface, highlight its history, art, and city life, showcase the power of its culture, and be known and recognized for places like the Fisher Building.

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