The Schwankovsky Temple of Music was built in 1891 and was located at Woodward Avenue at the corner of John R Street, in downtown Detroit. The Schwankovsky Temple of Music is one of downtown Detroit’s oldest buildings. The Schwankovsky Temple of Music was a six-story, brick structure that was designed by Detroit-architect Gordon W. Lloyd in a beautiful Romanesque Revival architectural style.
The façade of the Schwankovsky Temple of Music was made of reddish-brick, brownstone trimmings, applied masonry stone, and light granite. The façade of the Schwankovsky Temple of Music featured brick columns that went vertically along the front of the building, as they separated each set of windows. Each of the brick columns featured decorative, stone motifs that gave the exterior an extra appeal. The main entrance to the Schwankovsky Temple of Music was surrounded by blocks of light granite that adorned the entire first floor exterior. The top floor of the building featured the facade’s only brick arches that were used to border the top row of windows. Above the top floor of arched windows, the roofline featured a dark-greenish pediment that gave the cornice a triangular, pointed peak on the front of the building. The most prominent feature of the Schwankovsky Temple of Music’s exterior was the gorgeous, turret that extends from the second floor to the fifth floor, along the front corner of the building. The sixth floor (top floor) of the Schwankovsky Temple of Music featured an open portico-style patio with the rounded arches as the balcony openings. In between the second and third floors of the turret, there was intricate, stone details of garlands that were sculpted directly into the frieze of the curved turret. Another prominent feature of the Schwankovsky Temple of Music was the original wood windows in the building, most of which had an etched-design containing the initials of “WK,” from when the building was used as the Wright-Kay Building. The Schwankovsky Temple of Music had some of the most amazing exterior details of any of Detroit’s downtown skyscrapers.
The Schwankovsky Temple of Music was constructed for the F. J. Schwankovsky Company, a retailer of fine musical instruments. The Schwankovsky Company went out of business a couple of decades after the building opened.
In 1920, the Wright-Kay jewelry firm purchased the building and it became the Wright-Kay Building. The Wright-Kay Building was used as the Wright-Kay jewelry company as their showcase and corporate headquarters. The building was used as the Wright-Kay Building until the Wright-Kay jewelry company moved out of Detroit in 1978.
When Wright-Kay left the building, the Wright-Kay Building remained vacant for a number of years before being used as a nightclub in the late 2000’s. It was the left vacant again until 2013.
In 2103, Quicken Loans tycoon, Dan Gilbert, and his Bedrock Management purchased the former Wright-Kay Building and began to renovate the historic structure into a retail store.
As of 2015, the high end retail and fashion store, John Varvatos, has opened in the former Wright-Kay Building. We at Detroit-ish are always happy to see another abandoned building come back to life.