You may notice this model looks familiar. It is, of course, the Detroit Historical Museum. But if you have been to the museum, you’ll notice that this model is not quite the same as today’s museum. This model represents the original vision for the site, which extended along W. Kirby Street all the way from Woodward Avenue to Cass Avenue.
As the sign in the photo states, the eastern most part of the building was indeed finished in time for the city’s 250th anniversary on July 24, 1951. A substantial addition was completed in 1968. However, this is where expansion halted and energy instead was put into new exhibits, education programs, and caring for the collection.
If the full plan had been undertaken, it would have brought about the demolition of another historic home, located at the corner of Cass and Kirby. Today, that house, once owned by the Joy family, has been beautifully restored.
It isn’t hard to imagine how we could have used all that extra space: on-site collections storage, classrooms for school fieldtrips, and staff offices. If it was all exhibit space, there could have been at least 75,000 square feet more than there already is. That’s an extra football field worth of space to tell the stories of Detroit history! What do you think would have been found there?