The Wurlitzer Building was built in 1926 and was located at 1509 Broadway Street at the corner of John R Street in downtown Detroit. The Wurlitzer Building stood at fourteen floors and was designed by architect Robert Finn in a sleek, renaissance-revival style. The Wurlitzer Building’s façade has a beautiful terra cotta presence with granite columns and bordering; all including gorgeous ornate details. The façade detail changes at the fourth floor with heavy terra cotta ornaments that over the windows. The black, terra cotta tiled words of “Wurlitzer Building” were built into both sides of the Wurlitzer Building, near the rooftop of the building. The Wurlitzer Building was an office building that originally housed the famous Wurlitzer Organ Company. Wurlitzer organs can be found throughout Detroit’s theaters, including the Fox, the State (Fillmore), and the Fisher Theaters. The Wurlitzer Building in Detroit was also known for the production of Wurlitzer pianos, jukeboxes, radios, and instruments. The Wurlitzer Organ Company occupied the building for many years.
By 1970, the Wurlitzer Organ Company had left the Wurlitzer Building and left Detroit. The building would remain operating at only about half of the occupancy. Various retail, social service, and other small businesses would be the Wurlitzer Building’s final tenants.
In 1980, the Wurlitzer Building was sold to a private owner and the building’s heat and water was shut off. This forced the final tenants of the Wurlitzer Building to vacate the premises.
In 1982, the last tenants moved out of the Wurlitzer Building and it was abandoned.
In 1995, the Wurlitzer Building was sold to a local lawyer, but the building was still left abandoned. The new owner had promised several times to redevelop it, but city safety inspectors have been documenting the building’s unsafe conditions. Meanwhile, chunks of the façade have occasionally fallen off the building, threatening the lives of any passersby below. The new owner also did nothing to properly secure the once-beautiful building and it fell victim to scrapping and vandalism.
In 2012, the Wurlitzer Building’s interior was cleaned out and gutted. The Wurlitzer Building is now literally four walls on each of the building’s fourteen floors. There was hopes that something would come of this interior work, but after the big “clean-up” the Wurlitzer Building has continued to sit abandoned.
As of 2017, the Wurlitzer Building is in the process of being renovated into luxurious living space.