Project Description

The Detroit House of Corrections, often referred to as “DeHoCo” for short, was first built in 1861 near Eastern Market on Detroit’s east side. Wanting to keep prisoners out of the “nicer” downtown Detroit area, the City of Detroit bought approximately 1,000 acres in Plymouth Township in 1919 to house a new Detroit House of Corrections. This Detroit House of Corrections would that would replace the Eastern Market facility. The Detroit House of Corrections was located on 5 Mile Road, at the corner of Ridge Road, in Plymouth Township, Michigan.

In 1920, the current Detroit House of Corrections was built on the property in Plymouth Township. At that time the Detroit House of Corrections was a working farm and the prisoners all slept in large tents. In 1930, a permanent $2.5 million, maximum security facility was completed on the site. This building was designed by none other than renowned Detroit-architect, Albert Kahn. The Detroit House of Corrections was large prison complex, with over a dozen different structures inside the razor-wire fence. Prisoners that were incarcerated at DeHoCo could be involved with number of different activities. Some of these activities included: Auto mechanics, agriculture/botany, tool and dye, soap making, food handling/cooking, and woodworking. Some of the structures that were used included: a cafeteria, gymnasium, maintenance building, a greenhouse, an administration building, and a few other pods and cell-blocks that housed the prison’s programs. The programs that were offered at DeHoCo were substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment. DeHoCo was also known for housing some famous inmates, such as various members of Detroit’s notorious, prohibition-era, Jewish-gang, known as The Purple Gang, John Sinclair, and Nathaniel Mayer. DeHoCo was actually mentioned in a song written by Nathaniel Mayer, in 1966, called “I Want Love And Affection (Not The House Of Correction).” The Detroit House of Corrections was then chosen to be the story setting of famous, Detroit-author, Joyce Carol Oates’ short-story book, “How I Contemplated the World From the Detroit House of Correction and Began My Life Over Again,” written in 1969.

By 1986, The City of Detroit had sold the prison complex to the Michigan Department of Corrections for $1.6 million. The Michigan Department of Corrections used the building for housing prisoners, but only temporarily and only for certain programs. The Detroit House of Corrections was never again used as a maximum-security penitentiary. In 2004, The Michigan Department of Corrections closed the Detroit House of Corrections for good.

As of 2015, the Detroit House of Corrections complex stills sits abandoned. Unfortunately, there are currently no plans for the former of Detroit House of Corrections. Most of the buildings are well secured and there is a security guard o patrolling the property twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.