Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Schwankovsky Temple of Music: a Woodward gem

The Schwankovsky Temple of Music building on Woodward Avenue – just across from the original Vernor's Ginger Ale location – is a beaut, a pre-1900s relic that was, once upon a time, considered a high-rise. Now its dwarfed by neighboring skyscrapers, but "the Schwank" remains, designated as a Michigan Historical Site.

Originally, it was the home of F.J. Schwankovsky Company, a retail outlet that sold pianos, organs and musical merchandise. According to the historical marker on the front, the six-story brick and brownstone structure was completed in 1891. Upon completion, it became one of the first high-rise buildings on Woodward and one of the first buildings in Detroit whose initial construction included electric elevators.

Back in the day, the music company held recitals in the second-floor ballroom and brass concerts on the sixth-floor balcony. Pretty cool. As you can see by the sign hanging from the fire escape, the building is currently for sale. And, no, it is not commonly referred to as "the Schwank". I made that up.