Crews amputate derelict Globe Building ahead of renovation

Globe BuildingAt first glance, the hulking Globe Building on Detroit’s east riverfront looks like any industrial eyesore – a collapsing roof, faded exterior and rusted steel beams.

But with some imagination, the former marine dry-dock facility where Henry Ford cut his teeth as an apprentice in the 1880s is becoming an adventure and education center with a climbing wall, zip line, classrooms and historic exhibit on the state’s lumber industry.

On Thursday, demolition crews began shearing off an unsafe section of the historic Globe and will resume today.

“Preservationists regard it as one of the earliest and best examples of the open-space industrial construction design that favored self-supporting steel skeleton, a method that would become common in buildings around the world,” wrote our friends at “The innovative steam engines produced there and its important role in the Great Lakes maritime trade are often overlooked. Furthermore, revived interest in the riverfront has made the building more attractive to investors, who see the potential in its rich industrial heritage, prime location on the Detroit Riverfront, and close proximity to the Dequinder Cut Greenway.”

The building once operated a maintenance center for Great Lakes shipping and was part of the Detroit Dry Dock Engine Works beginning in the late 1880s.

The Department of Natural Resources will run the new indoor-outdoor center as part of the .
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8 million project.

The building changed hands several times over the past century and sat vacant for many years. Excitement surrounded the building in 2006 when investors announced plans to transform the building into condos. But nothing happened and the building continued to rot, flood and attract homeless people.

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.