Detroit Insulated Wire Company

Joseph H. Hunter, a former manager of the Pittsburgh Light Company, established the Detroit Insulated Wire Company in 1906 with a small factory on the outskirts of town. Within a few years the plant had expanded to three times its original size, buying up the nearby Max Braudy factory in 1912 and starting construction on a four story Albert Kahn designed warehouse a year later. By 1914, the factory had a daily output of 1,000,000 feet of insulated wiring per day, and was a major contributor to the Allied forces in the First World War.

It’s not clear if Detroit Insulated Wire survived the great depression, but by the 1950’s the buildings were being used by Abner A. Wolf Inc. as a wholesale grocery warehouse. Wolf was later bought out by Sysco, a regional food distributor, who continued to use the facility as a distribution center. Sysco later vacated the property, but its not clear when.

A massive five-alarm fire swept through the complex in 2005, destroying all buildings except for the four-story warehouse and a nearby office building. The blaze started in one of the smaller buildings and spread to the warehouse, which was being used by a plastics company. 135 firefighters battled exploding propane tanks, junked automobiles, and low water pressure for hours to bring the fire under control. The complex was a complete loss.

The wreckage of the burned structures was removed by 2007, leaving the warehouse and an office building, both of which had survived the fire more or less intact.

The heat of the fire compromised several of the reinforced concrete supports holding up the floors above, causing the building to collapse slowly as the crumbling supports gave way and caused the floors above to sink down.

Special thanks to detroitfunk for posting images of the fire and credit to Francis' Fotos for original research on the building.