The Brewster-Douglas housing projects towers were built in in 1952 and designed by noted Detroit architects Smith, Hinchman, and Grylls. The towers were built as an addition to the Frederick Douglass Homes, which were low-rise apartment block as and small rows of apartments that were first built in 1938. At the height of its peak, the Brewster-Douglass Projects were Detroit’s largest residential housing establishment. It was five city blocks long and housed almost 10,000 residents. The Breswter-Douglass Projects was located at 2700 St. Antoine, in Detroit’s east side neighborhood of Brush Park. The Brewster-Douglass Projects were named after Frederick Douglass, who was a famous African-American slave abolitionist and author.
The Brewster-Douglass Towers, as well as the entire Brewster-Douglass Projects, gained a lot of attention over the years for a variety of different things. Most famously, the complex was home to musicians Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, and Florence Ballard. Actress Lilly Tomlin was also raised in the Brewster-Douglass Projects. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the Brewster-Douglass Projects became a huge problem for crime and drugs. It is said that the Brewster-Douglass were so feared that Detroit Police wouldn’t even go into the complex. They became such an issue for the City of Detroit that they decided to shut down all operations at the entire Brewster-Douglass Projects, including the Brewster-Wheeler Recreation Center that Detroiter and pro basketball star, Chris Webber, had recently donated money to build a new basketball court. The residents of the Brewster-Douglass Projects did not go quietly nor without a fight. In a sort of last ditched protest effort, many of the remaining residents refused to leave their homes. The City of Detroit was forced to shut off the water and cut the power to the projects. Even after the power and water were gone, some of the people still stayed behind. By 2009, the entire Brewster-Douglass Projects were completely abandoned and it looked like an eerie urban ghost town. In 2013, the City of Detroit announced that they were going to demolish the Brewster-Douglass Projects.
In 2014, the Brewster-Douglass Projects were finally demolished (except for the rec center).