|Location||1519 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48226|
Located in Downtown Detroit, the Grinnell Brothers Music Building is a standing memory of the rise and fall of a company. The brothers who started this retail store originally sold sewing machines door-to-door and then incorporated music merchandise into their first store in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It wasn’t until the brothers had a successful piano manufacturing plant in Holly, Michigan, that the still recognizable store on 1519 Woodward Avenue was constructed.
Albert Kahn, a reputable architect who built numerous buildings and plants that were representative of the European Modernism architectural style, built the Grinnell Brothers Music Building in 1908. The building’s neighbors consisted of the Fisher Arcade, Sanders, and a clothing department store. Grinnell was a respected company and eventually became the world’s largest piano-distributor by the 1950’s. Not long after in the 1960’s, Grinnell had over 35 stores selling pianos in addition to other instruments. The company was at a high and bought the Sanders building located next door in 1963.
The Grinnell Brothers Music Building is a reminder of the company’s history that is somewhat similar to the city it is located within. In 1967 after the Detroit Riots, the company lost much business due to people avoiding downtown. The company had periods of growth and decline afterwards, with different owners trying to salvage a company that had been around for almost 100 years. In 1981, the Grinnell was officially bankrupt, leaving the building on 1519 Woodward Avenue empty.
Right now the building is not in use, but is located in an area that is starting to be built up once again. It is interesting to note how similar one company is to the city of Detroit’s history as a whole. The location of the main company headquarters seemed to be its downfall. Now we have to look at this building and see if it will follow Detroit’s history once more, and be utilized into something new and revived. Not more than a mile away from the Grinnell Brothers Music Building, a new sports complex will be built, bringing more supposed positive traffic to Downtown Detroit. Will this new construction bring people who want to see something historically significant? Or will they want to have buildings like this one repurposed into something more modern?