Maccabees Building

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Maccabees Building
General information
Location5057 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, Michigan
Antenna spire465.9 ft (142.0 m)
Roof196.9 ft (60.0 m)
Technical details
Floor count15
Floor area293,000 sq ft (27,220 m2)
Design and construction
ArchitectAlbert Kahn
Maccabees Building
Coordinates42°21′28″N 83°3′56″W / 42.35778°N 83.06556°W / 42.35778; -83.06556Coordinates: 42°21′28″N 83°3′56″W / 42.35778°N 83.06556°W / 42.35778; -83.06556
ArchitectAlbert Kahn
Architectural styleArt Deco, Romanesque
NRHP reference #83003436[1]
Added to NRHPJuly 7, 1983

The Maccabees Building (sometimes called Wayne Tower) is a historic building located at 5057 Woodward Avenue in Midtown Detroit, Michigan. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.[1] and is currently owned by Wayne State University.

The building consists of a five-story base which covers the entire site. The nine-story spine sits above this rising to a height of 197 feet (60 m) with ten-story wings buttressing each corner. The building's exterior resembles the letter "H" with this clearly evident on the fourth through tenth story floorplans.

The high-rise truss tower features Art Deco and Romanesque details which include large arched windows on the ground and second level with rose windows accenting the second floor.[2] Windows on the tenth and fourteenth floor are arched with decorative spandrel panels. The exterior is faced with limestone. The entrance is recessed in a three-story barrel vault arch which continues into the building to form the lobby ceiling.

The central section is topped by a radio broadcast tower. This served as the broadcast tower for WXYZ radio (both WXYZ-AM and WXYZ-FM [now WRIF]), and television, until the station moved to new facilities in 1959. WGPR radio now occupies transmission facilities on the tower, along with some data transmission equipment for Wayne State University. The height above ground to the tip of the antenna is 465.9 feet (142.0 m).

From 1960 to 2000,[3] it served as the headquarters of Detroit Public Schools.[4]

On March 25, 2011, Wayne State University and Detroit Public Television announced they would jointly operate a television production studio in the space previously occupied by WXYZ-TV. The studio would reunite the entities who co-produced programs through the late 1970s. The space will be upgraded in phases to install new equipment and provide internships for students in the university's media arts programs.[5]


Construction on the building began in 1926, and completed in 1927. The building was constructed for the fraternal organization Knights of the Maccabees which later established the Royal Maccabees Insurance Company.

Surplus space in the building was leased to other businesses, including retail business on the ground floor and office space in the upper floors. One noteworthy tenant was Detroit's radio and television station WXYZ which had its offices and later television studios and broadcast facilities in the Maccabees Building prior to 1959. During that period, the popular radio programs The Lone Ranger, Challenge of the Yukon and The Green Hornet were broadcast from the Maccabees Building radio facilities to listeners throughout North America. From 1959 until 2001, the studios, transmitter, and broadcast tower were used by WDET-FM. During the 1950s, Soupy Sales performed in the lower level studio.

In 1960, the Maccabees Insurance Company relocated its headquarters to a new building in the northern suburb of Southfield. In 1986, it built new 251,000-square-foot (23,300 m2) office building, once again in Southfield. These newer structures are also sometimes referred to as the Maccabees Building.

When the Maccabees organization vacated the building in 1960, the Detroit Public School System (DPS) purchased it for a headquarters. From 1960 to 1992, it served as the headquarters of Detroit Public Schools. It officially became the School Center Building but the Maccabees name remained visible on the exterior.[3]

The Maccabees Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

In 2002, DPS paid the owner of the Fisher Building $24.1 million to purchase five floors to house administrative offices, citing the high cost of renovations needed at the Maccabees Building to comply with building and safety codes.[6][7] That same year, Wayne State University purchased the Maccabees Building for additional space. The building houses administrative offices, communication equipment, retail space, and offices for a number of the university's academic departments as part of Wayne State's campus. After acquisition, initial reviews of the structure estimated that façade repairs would cost $1.95 million; upgrades to the fire alarm and emergency lighting systems, $960,000; repairs to utility shaft and exit stairways, $405,000; and elevator upgrades, $770,000.[8]

The entire structure was renovated in 2004 and 2005 with second, third and fourteenth floors equipped to house the Wayne State University Computer Science Department.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ Mulcahy, Marty (May 2, 2003). "A Tuck-Point Here, a New Panel There Provide Facelift for Maccabees Building". The Building Tradesman. Greater Detroit Building and Construction Trades Council. Retrieved March 4, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Maccabees Building/Detroit Public Schools Center Building". 2002. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
  4. ^ "Contact Us". Detroit Public Schools. May 10, 2000. Archived from the original on May 10, 2000. Retrieved November 7, 2009.
  5. ^ "Wayne State University and Detroit Public TV Launch New Midtown Studio" (Press release). Wayne State University. March 25, 2011. Retrieved April 19, 2011.
  6. ^ Oosting, Jonathan (September 24, 2009). "Audit: Detroit Public Schools Overpaid Millions for Real Estate After Middle-Man Markups". MLive. Retrieved November 7, 2009.
  7. ^ "Real Estate Report". Detroit Public Schools. October 7, 2011. p. iii. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  8. ^ "Plan for Properties Acquired from Detroit Public Schools". Wayne State University Department of Finance and Facilities Management. July 23, 2003. pp. 9–10. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  9. ^ "Wayne State University: Maccabees Administrative Office Renovation". JM Olson Corp. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  10. ^ "About Us". Wayne State University, Computer Science Department. Retrieved January 14, 2011.[failed verification]

External links[edit]