Fine Arts Building/Adams Theater

Fine Arts Building/Adams Theater

44 West Adams on Grand Circus Park

This seven-story office building was constructed in 1905.  It was built, I believe, just before the use of I-beams for such construction.  Twelve years after the structure opened, a theater for showing silent movies was erected behind the Fine Arts Building.  The lobby for that theater, the Adams Theater, was located on the ground floor of the Fine Arts Building.  Thus, the Fine Arts Building appeared to house the Adams Theater, although that was really a separate structure to the rear of this location on Adams.

The Adams Theater closed in 1988, and by that time, this building was vacant and at risk of falling into a dilapidated condition.  The marquee for the theater remained in place until 1999 and a restaurant occupied some part of the building for several years.    The revival of this area of Detroit began when the Ilitch family refurbished the Fox Theater to serve as the corporate headquarters of the Little Caesar’s chain and as one of the most financially rewarding theaters in the nation.  The remodeled Fox Theater opened in 1988.  The Ilitch family helped to fund the construction of nearby Comerica Park which opened in April, 2000.   The Tigers entertain visiting baseball teams 81 days each summer.  Later, the Ilitch real estate company began remodeling the once attractive buildings that lined Park Avenue.  In March, 2007, the Illitch family announced that the Fine Arts Building could not be saved, but in the interest of preserving the historic structure, the façade along West Adams would be preserved.  Apparently the city’s historical commission agreed to this arrangement.  In early 2009, reconstruction of this building began.  By April, there was no evidence of the razing of the building, leading some observers to speculate the Ilitch family might preserve more than just the façade of this structure.

Architect:  Unknown to me
Date of Construction: 1905
Use in 2009:  Undergoing reconstruction to preserve the facade
City of Detroit Designated Historic District.  The Fine Arts Building is within the
Grand Circus Park Historic District
that was established August 26, 2002.
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites:  The Fine Arts Building is within the
Grand Circus Park Historic District, P25, 129.
National Register of Historic Sites:  The Fine Arts Building is within the
Grand Circus Park Historic District, #83000894, listed February 28, 1984.
Photograph:  Ren Farley; May 2, 2009
Description prepared: May, 2009



Return to Commercial Buildings

Return to Entertainment & Culture

Return to Homepage