Vernors Modern

Today’s diners at the Whitney might have found it strange to be next to a giant neon sign, c. 1955

Today’s diners at the Whitney might have found it strange to be next to a giant neon sign, c. 1955

Vernor’s Ginger Ale has long been a Detroit tradition, but the company’s former headquarters was strikingly modern for its time. In the 1950s, the city decided that Vernor’s riverfront locale was in the way of redevelopment. Since part of that redevelopment was Cobo Hall, there was no longer a need for the outdated Conventional Hall along the west side of Woodward Avenue between Canfield and Forest Streets.

Vernor’s jumped at the opportunity to swap land and construct a sparkling new plant on this larger site. Opening in 1954, the Harley, Ellington and Day design was a showcase for the popular modern architectural movement with its glass walls, clean lines and linearity.

Glass walls allowed passersby to observe the bottling works in action, c. 1955.

Glass walls allowed passersby to observe the bottling works in action, c. 1955.

After being bought out by United Brands, the plant was shuttered in 1985. The site is now occupied by Studio One Apartments. To see many more images of the interior and exterior of this building, search our online collections.

The lobby was replete with modern furnishings, c. 1955.

The lobby was replete with modern furnishings, c. 1955.

The plush corner office of president James Vernor Davis, c. 1955.

The plush corner office of president James Vernor Davis, c. 1955.

This boardroom was remarkably utilitarian, c. 1955.

This boardroom was remarkably utilitarian, c. 1955.

The building stood in stark contrast to ornate street lamps along Woodward Ave, c. 1965.

The building stood in stark contrast to ornate street lamps along Woodward Ave, c. 1965.

6 thoughts on “Vernors Modern

  1. I’ve carried the Vernor’s torch everywhere I go, and everywhere I live, by simply making my family and friends a Boston Cooler. Its what we drink around here.

  2. Vernor’s was a hit in Canada too.
    My dad used to love it, and so do I.
    We can still get it up here, and it’s as good today as it was 60 years ago.

    My great aunt used to take me to their plant for a Vernor’s Float!
    Way back in 1961.
    The sign was great, and so was Detroit.

    In an era where we’ve lost so much…Vernor’s is a comforting benchmark.

    Eric Roth

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