Once the tallest building in Detroit, and Michigan, the Penobscot is something that people from all around can recognize when driving into Detroit. You know the giant red ball when it lights up? Yea, that’s the Penobscot Building.
It is my second favorite building in Detroit, behind the famed train station, Michigan Central Station.
It was built in 1928, by the same person who designed the Guardian Building, Wirt C. Rowland. This time, he didn’t use bricks, but he did use the same architectural design, Art Deco.
The name Penobscot is actually a Native American tribe in New England. But you might be surprised that there is more than just one Penobscot Building. There are actually three. This is one just the tallest and most famous of the three.
A 13-story building was built in the early 1900s, and then about a dozen years later, the 47-story Penobscot you see to the left was built. Over $5 million was put into the project at the time and it was known as the Greater Penobscot Building.
$5 million in 1916 is worth about over $100 million today. The Penobscot was the tallest building in Detroit until the Renaissance Center was built in 1977.
When it was built, it was the eighth largest building in the world, and fourth-tallest in the United States in 1928.
WJR once held it’s main offices in the Penobscot and the red light you see on the top is for aircrafts to see.
There are more pictures on the HistoricDetroit.org page.