Project Description

The Farwell Building was built in 1915 at 1249 Griswold Street, at the corner of Grand River Avenue, in downtown Detroit’s Capital Park. The Farwell Building was an eight-story, all brick, office building with retail space on the first floor. The Farwell Building was designed by architect, Harrie W. Bonnah, in Chicago-School style. The Farwell Building was one of Detroit’s most gorgeous and ornate buildings.

The Farwell Building featured elaborate ironwork, brass and marble elevators, and a vaulted-dome lobby, that was decorated with thousands of mosaic Tiffany glass pieces. Two custom-twin Tiffany chandeliers also hung in the lobby. The Farwell Building also had an octagon-shaped light court that went up through all eight floors of the building. The light court also featured beautiful iron hand-rails on every floor. The Farwell Building’s interior was truly unequaled in the city. The Farwell Building is named after Jesse Farwell, who was a Detroit real-estate tycoon and had owned the land of where the Farwell Building was built.

The Farwell Building managed to do very well through the years and had a great reputation. Things began to go downhill for the Farwell Building when a fire damaged the building in the 1970’s and the two twin Tiffany chandeliers were stolen. It was then that the owner donated the Farwell Building to the Detroit Historical Society. The Farwell Building only held on for a few more years, as many of the tenants left the Farwell Building (and Detroit) for “greener pastures.”

In 1984, the last tenant left and the Farwell Building closed for good. It has remained abandoned ever since. By 2009, the Farwell Building had become heavily vandalized and scrapped. Unfortunately, most of the iron-work, brass, copper, and even some of the Tiffany-glass has been stolen.

On the bright-side of things, in October of 2009, it was announced that the State of Michigan’s Land Bank Fast Track Authority would buy the Farwell for $3.3 million as part of the redevelopment of Capitol Park.

As of 2017, work has started on the redevelopment and renovations of the Farwell Building. The building has been properly secure.