It has been called “the most sumptuous building in Michigan” - Detroit's Wayne County Courthouse, a five-floor behemoth that fills up an entire block. The building has a 247-foot tall tower, and has been unoccupied for a good number of years.

It took five years to complete the construction, from 1897 to 1902, and was intended to compliment City hall...but that was torn down in 1961.

Wandering thru the inside – if you ever get that lucky – you'll see eighteen courtrooms and over 145 additional rooms, all with ornate mahogany, marble, mosaics, and oak.

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Many of the rich and famous had dealings here; Henry Ford had his office here as Roads Commissioner in 1906. In one of the courtrooms, infamous attorney Clarence Darrow was called for the defense in 1926.

So, why was this majestic building forsaken by the city? Why did it get neglected?

In 1955, there was a new City & County building that many of the government office preferred moving to. With so many officials leaving, the legal dealings left as well and the courthouse slowly began to decline, thanks to neglect.

Instead of attempting to revitalize, in the 1970s the county seriously considered demolishing the courthouse just to be done with it...but by the 1980s, private owners were adamant to restore it. The courthouse got a makeover and re-opened in 1987, as a way to show the rest of the city that restoring old buildings can be accomplished.

Fast-forward twenty years: by 2007, the Wayne County Commission threw up their hands, and gave up, sick and tired of all the constant repairs and renting problems. The building was sold to investors in 2014 who spent seven million dollars to once again restore.

The old Wayne County Courthouse has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975.

Wayne County Courthouse, Detroit


Images of Wayne County (Michigan's Oldest County)

Michigan's Oldest, Still-Operating Courthouse

The Tunnels of Fort Wayne


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