Warren-Prentis Historic District

This is bounded, approximately, by Woodward Avenue, West Warren,
Third Street and the alley to the south of Prentis.

The National Register of Historic Places lists the Cass Farms Historic District as a Multiple Property Submission, meaning that it contains many buildings and four distinct component subdistricts. These are:

Cass-Davenport Historic District
Warren-Prentis Historic District
West Canfield Historic District
Willis-Selden Historic District

The Warren-Prentis neighborhood developed in the last two decades of the Nineteenth Century. As Detroit became a leading manufacturing center, the city’s population more than doubled from 116,000 in 1880 to 286,000 in 1900. Newly prosperous professionals and managers wished to live in attractive residences commensurate with their status, but a dependence upon horse-drawn vehicles limited where they might live. Many of them contracted with the city’s leading architects to design substantial single-family homes between West Warren and Prentis to the west of Woodward. Some of the original apartment buildings for middle-class residents were also built in this neighborhood. These are mostly low-rise apartment buildings of four stories or less. Commercial buildings were erected along Cass as it bisects the Warren-Prentis area. Indeed, by the 1920s, a number of automobile dealers had their showrooms along Cass in this and in nearby areas. While many of the original homes no longer stand, those that remain present are an interesting collection of reasonably well maintained structures, representing the architectural ken of late Nineteenth Century designers and the tastes of Detroit’s prosperous families.

This area went into decline during the Depression decade when the homes became far too big and far too costly for one family to maintain. Some or many were subdivided into small rental units, but they were not always well kept up. The neighborhood was filled with renters during the booming years of World War II when almost any habitable space in Detroit could be let. With the exodus of population from the city in the 1950s and 1960, the neighborhood continued to decline. Indeed, in the 1970s and 1980s, the Cass Corridor developed a reputation for being a troubled area with numerous illegal activities.

Since about 1990, signs of revival have been evident in Warren-Prentis and adjoining neighborhoods. There is an increasing population of young people employed at, or studying at, the nearby universities, institutions in the Cultural Center and medical centers. Increasingly, this area appears to be safe and convenient, thanks in large part to the demographic changes that are now occurring. While it is an area undergoing renovation, it does not have the cache of the nearby West Canfield Historic District nor is it as gentrified as West Canfield.

City of Detroit Designated Historic District: Listed December 6, 2000
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites: District P26,939; Listed December 1, 1997.
State of Michigan Historic Marker: None erected
National Register of Historic Places: District #9701477, Listed in 1997
Description prepared: March, 2007

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