Thieves ransacked historic Detroit Naval Armory

The abandoned Detroit Naval Armory on Jefferson boasted some of the most impressive Art Deco woodcarvings – until recently.

Thieves brazenly stole intricately carved staircases, doorways and panels recently in the latest rampage of an historic Detroit building, also known as Broadhead Armory.

The stylized Art Deco designs depicted sailors and other Naval themes.

Entire staircases were removed from the minimalist building at East Jefferson and Baldwin.

Thieves did not steal enormous Navy-themed murals that were commissioned by the Works Progress Administration, a New Deal initiative that employed unskilled workers to create public art.

The vacant armory, built in 1930, was used primarily to drill and train Navy recruits. It also hosted dance contests, auto shows and political rallies, according to the Detroit Area Art Deco Society.

Joe Louis had his first boxing fight there; Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke to Detroiters while running for president.

The armory, like many Detroit buildings, was open to trespass for more than a year.

Motor City Muckraker took a tour last year, before the art was stolen.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.