The Farwell Building

Detroit's Capitol Park neighborhood is one of the oldest in the city, but has not fared well over the years. Made up of high-rise office and retail outlets arranged around a park in the center, many of the buildings today are vacant, awaiting redevelopment. One of these buildings is the eight-story Farwell Building, a long-vacant property with tremendous potential.

According to the Michigan State Historic Preservation office, "The Farwell Building is a fine example of early twentieth century commercial architecture. Named for the estate of Jesse H. and Emmer J. Farwell, the building was completed in 1915 from plans by Detroit architect Harrie W. Bonnah of the firm Bonnah & Chaffee."

The Farwell is notable for several things: the lobby on the ground floor is decorated with marble and shards of Tiffany glass, and once had ornate brass doors. The fifth through eighth floors, which were originally offices, have a light court running down the center with wrought-iron railing wrapping around and down the stairs.

Though the building lost some of its luster when it was modernized in the 1950's, it retained enough historic significance to be added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Like other downtown buildings, the Farwell had trouble attracting and keeping tenants, and eventually closed in 1984.

In the 25+ years that have passed since then, the Farwell has been left the moulder, crumbling under the weight of scrappers, vandals, and weather. Many of the wrought-iron railings have been stolen, as well as the brass elevator doors and chandeliers. Fire has also damaged the restaurant on the first floor. There were tentative plans to renovate the building into a 75-unit apartment complex, but so far nothing has come of it. In 2009 the Farwell was sold to a city agency for $3.3 Million, who have announced plans to redevelop the entire Capital Park neighborhood. The Farwell is one of four major buildings in the area that are vacant and would see new life under the plan.

Thanks to Historicdetroit.org for some pictures used in this article.