Commerical Building at 74 Monroe Ave Detroit Michigan
The building was originally virtually identical to the adjoining commercial building at 70-72 Monroe Avenue, with cast iron sills and lintels on both the Monroe Avenue and Farmer Street facades. The building at 74-78 Monroe was, however, set back another four feet from Monroe. In the early 1870s, the building was extended forward about four feet to achieve the same setback as the adjoining buildings
This building was the location of a wide variety of businesses, on both the Monroe and Farmer frontages. The Monroe frontage had two tenants, typically a saloon and a restaurant between 1888 and 1918. These apparently occupied the entire ground floor, because Detroit City Directories list no separate businesses on the Farmer side of the building until 1915. The Monroe Avenue frontage had two tenants, a tailor and the United Cigar Store from 1918 to 1939, followed by a series of shoe stores and restaurants into the late 1970s. The Farmer Street shops included a barber shop that operated continuously from 1915 until the late 1970s. Finally, a hat cleaning business, operating under several names, occupied the first floor on Farmer from 1931 until the late 1970s. The second story housed a dentist from 1921 until the late 1970s, when the building was vacated. Between 1929 and 1932, it was the home of "Dr. Park, Painless Method Dentists." William J. Zieve then carried out his dental practice there from 1933 until 1978. The tenants on the third and fourth stories are unknown, because the Detroit City Directories did not identify them.
The structure at 74-78 Monroe is significant as part of the last Intact pre-Clvil War commercial block remaining in Detroit. The facade on Monroe Avenue was constructed in the 1870s, while the facade along Farmer Street was part of the original construction of the building in the early 1850s. Both facades have tall narrow windows and a combination of segmental- and full-arch window tops. The Farmer Street elevation is similar to the facades on the structures at 54 through 72 Monroe, including the use of cast-iron window sills and lintels with urn and scroll motifs.
The structure was four stories tall, plus basement, and is rectangular in layout. It measures 30' wide and 100' deep. Exterior walls are masonry load-bearing and are made of red-colored common brick. On the Monroe Avenue facade, there are four rectangular windows per story above the first floor. Projecting brick is used decoratively around the windows to create full arches on the fourth story and segmental arches on the second and third stories. A small white-colored keystone appears in the middle of each arch. Stone window sills are connected to form courses across the second, third, and fourth stories. On the Farmer Street facade, cast-iron sills and lintels with urn and scroll motifs appear at each window, of which there are eight per story above the first floor. A doorway on the Farmer facade still retains its classical-style cast-iron, entablature which features scrolled brackets and a broken pediment with an urn in the middle.
The building has plaster walls and ceilings throughout, except on the second story, which contained a large dental office, including waiting rooms, a reception desk, a laboratory, and ten cubicles containing dentist chairs and related equipment. This space is subdivided with floor-to-celling partitions of wood construction on the lower third, with frosted glass panels in the middle, and with wooden segments then extending to the ceiling. The lower two-thirds of the remaining walls consist of white and green ceramic tiles arranged in square and rectangular patterns, with multi-colored floral-pattern tiles in the middle. There are more than a dozen mirrors incorporated into the walls.