Arts and crash

Feb 15, 2006 at 12:00 am

Another piece of Detroit history has been reduced to rubble. The once-beautiful stucco building at 47 Watson St. that formerly provided a home to the Society of Arts and Crafts — which went on to become the renowned College for Creative Studies — fell victim to a bulldozer two weeks ago. Located a half-block east of Woodward and just south of Mack Avenue, the building, designed by the architectural firm of Smith, Hinchman & Grylls and constructed in 1916, has long been vacant. Considered the crown jewel of Detroit's internationally known Arts and Crafts movement back in the day, it was badly damaged by fire several years ago.

Tom Page, a retiree who lives across the street from the site, says he and developer Jim Wickenheiser tried to buy the building after it showed up on the city's demolition list. They were interested in renovating it for use as offices.

Property owner Dwight Belyue, of Global Group Real Estate, says the entire block is scheduled for redevelopment. "Attempts by Jim to acquire this property were not, in our determination, significant or meaningful," Belyue says. "Based on our economic analysis, it was not feasible for rehab.

"We're doing residential, retail, commercial — all of that. It's going to be a mixed-use lot when we're done."

Ahh, progress.

"We've lost so much in this city," Page says. "It's a real shame. I hate to see the heritage gone."

Lovely black-and-white photos of the building during its heyday can be found on the Web at

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]