Guardian Building Tourfeatured

Guardian Building Lobby Ceiling

The Guardian Building Main Lobby Ceiling

Last Sunday I was able to make it downtown with a friend for a tour of the Guardian Building in Detroit. We got snarled up in auto show traffic so we missed the start of the tour but we were able to catch up at the end. What an architectural gem! Detroit so often gets a bad rap but there is much beauty to be found. I don’t have any pictures of the exterior of the building since it seemed to be shrouded by some scaffolding for renovations…plus it was really cold and windy and we just wanted to stay warm and cozy inside. Here are a few pictures of the gorgeous interior.

Guardian Building Light Fixture and Gate Details

Details of a light fixture and the gate separating the main lobby from the bank lobby

Guardian Building Elevator Details

Details of the elevator doors.

Originally called The Union Trust building, it was designed by the architect Wirt C. Rowland. His attention to detail was meticulous and he created an Art Deco masterpiece. Construction of the building began in 1928 and finished in 1929. That’s speedy construction for a 40 story skyscraper!


Details of the main lobby.

The interior is lavishly decorated with colorful mosaic and Pewabic and Rookwood tile.

Guardian Building Bank Lobby Ceiling

Ceiling of the bank lobby.

Guardian Building Bank Lobby Details

Details from the bank lobby.

Native American themes are common inside and outside the building and you can see that most especially in the bank lobby. The ceilings are elaborately painted with Aztec patterns and the color palette of terra cottas, rich yellows and gold and turquoise reinforce this. Our tour guide told us that Rowland designed furniture for the bank’s offices and he even designed the tableware, linens and waitress uniforms for a restaurant in the building. It was amazing to see how well preserved the building is and to be among such amazing craftsmanship and artistic vision.

Guradian Building Michigan Fresco

A fresco of Michigan at the far end of the bank lobby.

If you are interested in taking a tour of the Guardian Building check out Pure Detroit for the schedule of tours, or just pop in for a peek next time you’re downtown. You can also read more about the building in this great article by Dan Austin on the site.

You might also enjoy my Fisher Building Tour post.

About the author

Jennifer Stefanek

Hello, I'm Jen. I am a forty-something closeted artist and designer. This blog is a place for me to chronicle creative projects big and small in an effort to re-ignite and rediscover my creative self. I am The Picadilly Project.

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