not all those who wander are lost

Michigan Central Station.

C19 style Beaux Art design.
Architects: Whitney Warren and Charles Wetmore with Reed and Sern.
Erected in 1913.

The architects are famous for designing one of the sister stations to MCS, Grand Central Station in New York City.
Grand Central Station was rescued from similar abandonment by Jackie Kennedy Onassis. She single handedly led the renovation drive, and even located original architectural drawings for details that had never been finished. Mrs. Onassis made sure these details were realized in the renovated Grand Central, which today is one of NYCs crown jewels.

Inside we see what is left of the grand waiting room. This was closed for storage in 1967, and its Indian mahogany benches were sold for about $25.00 USD.

The vaulted ceiling reaches a height of 54.5 feet,

The walls and 21 foot tall Doric columns are made of Kasota marble.

These worn out frescos were added as a strange art installation piece in 1995 called “the Cathedral of Time”.

Thin tiles and dense mortar are used to create the Guastavino vaulted arches – named after the Catalan engineer that invented the technique.

Ticket counters

The is the Grand Concourse, the place where people boarded and departed the trains.

Yellow brick laid in Flemish bond, framed with terracotta.

The amazing dining room, with a vaulted ceiling of caen stone and a floor of Welsh quarry tile.

The gorgeous ceiling was defaced just after World War 2, when they partitioned a section of the dining room to create an upstairs kitchen. The kitchen on the main floor required dropped asbestos ceiling per the fire codes. At this time the dining room was named The Mercury Room.

Lets head up into the office tower…..

Upper office floors. The fact is, that the upper 5 floors were never finished nor utilized. So it gets pretty barren when you get toward the top.

The Ambassador Bridge. An ironic view, as the abandoned MCS and the Ambassador have the same owner.

A view of Downtown Detroit from high above Corktown.

The smoke stack on the roof..

Roosevelt Park, looking out towards New Center in the distance.

Ariel view of the MCS shows how prominent it is in the Corktown neighborhood.

Will she be saved ? Im thinking not. I would love to be wrong on this one, but the resources required to rehab this massive structure must be prohibitive in todays monetary terms. People just do not aspire to this type of greatness in our current society.

It is really disheartening to gaze upon a symbol of how great we used to be.

data from: “Images of America- Detroit’s Michigan Central Station by Kelli B. Kavanaugh” and “AIA Detroit – The American institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture”

9 Responses to M. C. S.

  • I agree dFUNK, The cost would be prohibitive. But if you hear anything, let me know, cause I’ll be buying up all the UScaulk stocks on the N.Y.S.E

  • I was just into Detroit for the first time the other day, and the station struck me. Thank you for the pictures from inside. It’s a real shame there isn’t the money available to renovate it. Hmm . . . if it’s declared historically significant, would that make state/federal funds available?

  • Michigan Central was the first thing I recognized, looming on the skyline, during my first visit to Detroit this past Fall. Pressing my nose to the glass of the car window and straining to get a better look, I rattled off to my trip-mates the entire history of the place. I’m sure they thought I was nuts. What a beautiful building, even in it’s sad state of decay. It will be a huge catastrophe if it is lost, I was so happy to see it in person, despite it’s condition. As a preservationist, I keep hoping that this will not be the end of such a great structure.

  • As always, I love pictures of MCS, even though they make we want to cry. I’ve been haunted by this building ever since I got a tour from a homeless guy in ’92 (while waiting several hours for a late train at the Amtrak shed down the way).

  • Just as a Public Service Announcement – no I don’t work for MSN – but MSN Live Local just added Detroit to its “Bird’s Eye” view list of cities. You can get a glimpse of the early stages of he Statler demolition. :-(

  • have you ever been in MCS when somebody else has..

    thats the main reason i havent gone in yet

  • Yeah, Chad showed us the hole in the ceiling shot – theres a pic of me and John and somebody else looking through the arch taken while chad stuck his hand through the hole with the camera.

    Those holes are where the chandeliers were mounted – right ?

  • One of your best DF, some very interesting shots of a building that’s always fascinated me. Thanks.

  • I was just thinking about this structure yesterday; thanks for the images and history. I think people still aspire to greatness, sadly the dreamers are rarely the ones with the resources to pull a project like the MCS restoration off. Maybe, in addition of a reminder to who we were, it can be a prophetic call to who we should, and can, still become.