Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse, Detroit, MI
Location: 231 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226
The existing Federal Building/U.S. Courthouse was predated by two previous federal buildings in downtown Detroit. The first was a combined Custom House, Post Office and federal courts structure which was located on the northwest corner of Griswold and Larned Streets. The three-story Renaissance Revival style structure was completed in January of 1860 and cost $162,000.
In the 1880's, plans were developed to demolish the building and construct a new and larger facility. However, due to public objections, the government was forced to select a new site. The block bounded by Lafayette Boulevard, Fort Street, Wayne Street (now Washington Boulevard) and Shelby Street, was purchased for $400,000 in 1887. Excavation for the new Post Office and Courthouse began in June of 1890 and the building was occupied in late 1897. Construction costs exceeded $1,000,000. The massive rock-faced ashlar granite building was designed by Philadelphia architect James H. Windrim. A soaring clock tower with a tiled pyramid roof dominated the Fort Street facade.
Federal authorization and planning for the present building occurred during the presidency of Herbert Hoover. The Detroit Federal Building/U.S. Courthouse was designed Robert O. Derrick, under the auspices of James A. Wetmore, Acting Supervising Architect for the Department of the Treasury. The building's overall impression is one of Neo-Classical Revival with Modernistic traits. Demolition of the 1890's building began in late 1931. Construction began in April of 1932 and the completed building opened in March of 1934. The budget for construction was over $5.5 million dollars.
The building features several ornamental bas-relief sculptural groupings executed by noted Detroit architectural modeler, Corrado Joseph Parducci. Parducci designed the sculptural panels and medallions to depict various agencies and activities of the then-current federal government.
On November 2, 1994, the U.S. Congress approved an act to designate the courthouse as the "Theodore Levin United States Courthouse". A ceremony is planned for the Spring of 1995 to officially announce the designation and present new building signs on the Lafayette Boulevard and Fort Street elevations.
- Architect: Derrick, Robert O.
- Construction Dates: 1932-1934
- GSA Building Number: MI0029ZZ
- Landmark Status: National Register Listed