Brodhead Armory

Postcard, c. 1946.

Postcard, c. 1946.

One of Detroit’s historic landmarks currently at risk of demolition is the Brodhead Armory, also known as the Detroit Naval Armory. This limestone Art Deco building was constructed in 1930 and designed by William B. Stratton, husband of Mary Chase Stratton who founded Pewabic Pottery. It can be found on the south side of East Jefferson Avenue, nestled between Gabriel Richard Park and River Terrace Apartments.

(G. Garner, 1970s)

(G. Garner, 1970s)

 

Although disused since 2004, Brodhead Armory was a significant military training center, with a large gymnasium also used for trade shows and sporting events. Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke here on his campaign trail. Hollywood leading lady Jean Harlow attended its dedication ceremony. It is the last remaining site in Detroit where Joe Louis fought, where in 1934 he defeated Canadian Al Delaney. Brodhead Armory was later highlighted as one of the main venues to be used during Detroit’s series of failed Olympic bids in the 1960s.
The building itself features WPA murals by David Fredenthal, though they have been damaged over the years of abandonment. There are also wood carvings by Gustave Hildebrand, and Pewabic plaques on the exterior. Unfortunately, the premises is unsecured and has been looted of most of its distinctive architectural details, but there is still a chance for an influx of new ideas and funding sources to help it recover.
– D.S.

Students gathered along the East side of the building, 1930s.

Students gathered along the East side of the building, 1930s.

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