Michigan Bell-Western Electric Warehouse (NSO Bell Building)
Address: 882 Oakman
(Also 14300 Woodrow Wilson)
Built: 1930
Architect: Wirt C. Rowland
(Smith, Hinchman & Grylls); renovation in 2013

Michigan Bell and Western Electric shared a building on Detroit’s east side in the late 1920s. Western Electric stored and distributed equipment while Michigan Bell housed and serviced their vehicles. That structure was soon deemed too small to accommodate the growth experienced by the city at the time.
Smith, Hinchman & Grylls’ Wirt Rowland, an extremely busy man at the time, was commissioned to design a much larger facility.

This is one of the finest examples of Art Deco in the area. A 12-story central tower is flanked by 6-story wings on both sides. Western Electric used the building as its headquarters until 1958, when the company relocated to suburban Plymouth. In ‘59, Michigan Bell began using the structure to make the popular Yellow Pages volumes. Two years later, the iconic “Yellow Pages” sign was installed along the front of the building. You may also remember the “Weather-Phone” sign, a translucent white plastic sign that provided motorists on the Lodge with weather forecasts. When redevelopment on the building started, the sign was deemed structurally unsound and subsequently removed.

Michigan Bell sold the building in 1995, though the company continued to utilize it until 1999. In 2009, the Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO), a local non-profit human services agency, purchased the property. Work began to convert it into 155 one-bedroom apartments for formerly homeless adults. The facility also provides care for those suffering from mental health illnesses, addiction and other issues. Amenities include a gymnasium, library, computer room, art and music rooms and a chapel. The building also serves as the NSO’s headquarters. Cost of the renovation was $50 million. #Detroit #Westside #NorthwestDetroit #ArtDeco #WirtCRowland #SmithHinchmanandGrylls #OakmanBoulevard #archi_ologie #RawDetroit #PureMichigan #PureMittigan #MotorCityShooters #PureDetroit #DepictTheD #VisitDetroit #Michiganders #TheMidwestival #IGersDetroit #detroit_igers (at Michigan Bell and Western Electric Warehouse)