The Dime Building in Detroit
July 6, 2010
Detroit 1701’s page on The Dime Building relates how Daniel Hudson Burnham found fame as a city planner and was influential in the founding of the City Beautiful Movement. His architectural firm, Root and Burnham, designed the 20-story Masonic Temple Building in Chicago in 1893, one of the nation’s first skyscrapers, and they were tapped by Dime Bank:
The Dime Bank wanted an appropriate building for their facilities. The first floor was to serve as a banking floor where patrons would make their deposits and withdrawals. The higher levels in this 23-story building provided the many offices the bank needed for business, undoubtedly growing as the vehicle industry boomed in Detroit. Burnham designed the attractive lobby that you see with its skylight and numerous decorations. Electric elevators for tall buildings were first successfully installed in the 1890s, so they were still a new invention when Burnham designed this Dime Building…
Air conditioning was unavailable in 1910 and electric lights were, apparently, less efficient than the ones we have today. This motivated Burnham to incorporate a design that provided a window for ventilation and light in every office. You will notice the light well as soon as you enter the lobby of the Dime Building. This one faces Griswold and clearly illustrates this typical feature of Burnham’s Chicago style skyscrapers. Just to the east on Griswold, you will see the Ford Building that Burnham designed for its 1909 opening. In that one, Burnham’s light well is invisible from Griswold.
The Dime Building has its own web site and there’s a little more about the Dime Building on Wikipedia. You can see an old photo of the Dime Building from Wikipedia and another of the Dime from the early 20th Century at Shorpy.
See these other other photos bigger in his Detroit MI slideshow.