“A building rich in history.”

The Penobscot building is such a fascinating building that is so important to Detroit's history.

— D.M.

Art Deco masterpiece that has dominated the city’s skyline for more than 80 years.!”

The building’s formal opening was held Jan. 14, 1929

— M.T.

There is an urban legend that the building’s 100-foot tower with its winking red orb was once used as a port for a dirigible. In truth, this “blazing ball of fire,” as one newspaper article described it at the time, was simply an aviation beacon. These days, the tower and its sometimes-blinking red light are simply for decoration. The orb, which is 12 feet in diameter, was first turned on when the building opened 79 years ago and can be seen 40 miles away — when it’s working, anyway.



“The heart of Detroit's financial core.”

Since 1905, the world of business has revolved around Detroit's internationally recognized landmark, the penobscot building.

— L.G.


The sculptures and limestone carvings of Corrado Parducci are truly a sight to be seen.

— M.L.


“Its all in the name.”

The building is named for the Penobscot, a Native American tribe from Maine. Native American motifs in art deco style ornamentation is used on the exterior and the interiors. The following version of the choice of the name of the building is found in an undated publication believed to have been published concurrent with the buildings dedication in 1928.

— L.I.

“Architectural brilliance !”

The architect Wirt C. Rowland, of the prominent Smith Hinchman & Grylls firm based in Detroit, designed the Penobscot in an elaborate Art Deco style in 1928. Clad in Indiana Limestonewith a granite base, it rises like a sheer cliff for thirty stories, then has a series of setbacks culminating in a red neon beacon tower. Like many of the city’s other Roaring Twenties buildings, it displays Art Deco influences, including its "H" shape (designed to allow maximum sunlight into the building) and the sculptural setbacks that cause the upper floors to progressively "erode". 

— S.A.