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  1. #1

    Default 208 Mack - Where is Albert Kahn's Historical Marker?

    Does it bother anyone else that there is still no historical marker in front of Albert Kahn's home at 208 Mack Avenue to honor his life and legacy?

    Name:  Kahn Partial Headline2 - Detroit_Free_Press_Wed__Dec_9__1942_.jpg
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    To me, the daughter of a Detroit bricklayer & stone mason who was raised on the architecture of the city, this is a glaring and unforgivable omission. Why the lack of respect for this amazing architect? His passing made headlines. The DSO performed a concert of his favorite songs in his honor.

    Subsequent generations seem to have forgotten the impact of this man on not only Detroit, but on industry and the world. We just can't let this happen. A historical marker on this site would insure that this home and its significance will remain for all the world to see.

    According to the AIA Guide to Detroit Architecture moved into this house in 1908 and died here in 1942. The interior woodwork personified his love of fine craftsmanship. Much of the furniture was designed by him as well. He added a library and spacious gallery to hold his art work, including his beloved El Greco. He even designed the extensive garden which was an important part of his private world and an instrumental muse of inspiration to him.
    Last edited by kathy2trips; June-17-18 at 01:45 AM. Reason: typo

  2. #2

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    Google streetview shows some kind of historical marker at that address.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimaz View Post
    Google streetview shows some kind of historical marker at that address.
    That sign is about the Detroit Urban League.

  4. #4

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    It seems very appropriate to erect an historical marker at 208 Mack honoring Albert Kahn.
    Was there a thread on the site discussing the historical markers that should be erected in the city of Detroit such as one honoring Lindberg and another honoring Brunche? What about a marker at the site where Rosa
    Park lived: 3201 Virginia Park?

  5. #5

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    Detroit gushes about Albert Kahn constantly. Even most random suburbanites know who Albert Kahn is.

    Albert Kahn's name pops up in architecture books in relation to his factory designs being inspirational to European modernists. Sometimes the books will mention him specifically, as he was a leader in that area, or they'll discuss the factories more generally.





    He's not known for his firm's commercial or residential design outside of local history and general interest circles.

    Kahn owned his architecture firm which did a lot of factories, and his brother was https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julius_Kahn_(inventor). Together they designed a lot of factories, and also had patents and other businesses related to concrete construction techniques. They were either directly or indirectly involved in a huge percentage of factories built during that time.

  6. #6

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    Perhaps you could spearhead a campaign for this. I'm sure there are plenty of people that could contribute to the cause. As noted above, the Detroit Urban League has a marker at that address and is headquartered there. Maybe they could partner in this. Oddly enough, their website has no mention of Kahn's residence there. Here's a link to get you started: https://www.michigan.gov/mhc/0,4726,...5980--,00.html

  7. #7

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    Albert Kahn never lived at 208 Mack Ave.

    He lived at 62 Rowena St., which is the same location. Since then they realigned the streets, and Rowena, which used to go from Woodward to about Russell St., was realigned as a continuation of Mack Ave.

    https://www.detroityes.com/mb/showth...Avenue-went-in
    Last edited by Gistok; June-17-18 at 08:13 PM.

  8. #8

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    QUOTE=Gistok;550811]Albert Kahn never lived at 208 Mack Ave.[/QUOTE]

    The first paragraph of the "Detroit Free Press" article I posted says specifically that Kahn died at his home at 208 Mack. This was in 1942 and no changes had been made since that I am aware of. His obituary from 12-11-1942 from the same source once again references the address.

    Name:  Kahn Obituary - Detroit_Free_Press_Fri__Dec_11__1942_.jpg
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason View Post
    He's not known for his firm's commercial or residential design outside of local history and general interest circles.
    Perhaps he should be, including his naval bases. Precisely my point in this post. See more of the 12-9-1942 article (as referenced above) which mention his international endeavors.

    Name:  Kahn World-Wide Building Efforts - Detroit_Free_Press_Wed__Dec_9__1942_.jpg
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by yaktown View Post
    Perhaps you could spearhead a campaign for this. I'm sure there are plenty of people that could contribute to the cause.........Oddly enough, their website has no mention of Kahn's residence there. Here's a link to get you started: https://www.michigan.gov/mhc/0,4726,...5980--,00.html
    Thank you, I do have that link. What I don't have is the $3,750.00 for a "large" marker, which is presumably like the D.U.L. sign to the left of the front entrance. Who might have the funds, however, is the AIA Detroit, who spoke so glowingly of him shortly before his death, but forgot (I suppose) to request a marker.

    I have, however, written to AIA Detroit regarding this issue and included a link to this discussion for their review. (I also suggested that Julian might be mentioned therein, as his accomplishments in concrete construction are surely noteworthy.)

    I attached an article from the June 26, 1942 Detroit Free Press which mentions an award given to Mr. Kahn during their national convention here in Detroit. (When was the last time the AIA convened here, I wonder? Anyone know?)

    If anyone has other ideas as to who would be interested in this issue, I be most interested in hearing from you.

    Name:  AIA Convention Honoring - Detroit_Free_Press_Fri__Jun_26__1942_.jpg
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  11. #11

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    Perhaps there are better ways to memorialize the man than to put a marker in front of a house he once lived in.

    I drive by the Ossian Sweet house on a regular basis and it is falling into disrepair. A historical marker does not ensure regular maintenance and repair.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason View Post

    Kahn owned his architecture firm which did a lot of factories, and his brother was https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julius_Kahn_(inventor).
    Just a little tidbit about the brothers is they died within about 5 weeks of each other in late 1942.

  13. #13

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    A State Historic designation is as useful as "tits on a bull"! The only benefit is the nominating authority is "allowed" to purchase the marker from the state. The State does not provide the markers. There are a handful of inaccurate markers around the city that I have brought to the attention of the SHPO and they seem to not care. The house itself sits in the city designated Brush Park Historic District which does offer some protection. From what I understand the amount of deferred maintenance at 208 Mack Avenue is quite substantial. As for Albert Kahn, the moniker I cannot stand is "the architect of Detroit." In all he designed approximately 1,000 buildings in the city out of the 100's and 100's and 100's of thousands of buildings that have been built in the city. And yes he did design some of the most significant buildings but many were designed by other firms. I would like to see a monument to the many architects/architectural designers who helped to create the fabulous architecture of the city. Last just for accuracy 208 Mack Avenue was built in 1906, with a large addition added by Kahn in 1921.
    Last edited by p69rrh51; June-19-18 at 02:31 PM.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by GPCharles View Post
    Perhaps there are better ways to memorialize the man than to put a marker in front of a house he once lived in.

    I drive by the Ossian Sweet house on a regular basis and it is falling into disrepair. A historical marker does not ensure regular maintenance and repair.

    I don't support markers for people at all, only events. Major events that affected large numbers of people in a way that changed lives.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Meddle View Post
    I don't support markers for people at all, only events. Major events that affected large numbers of people in a way that changed lives.
    So Henry Ford shouldn't get a plaque for what he did, affecting the entire world?

    I completely disagree here. I believe a plaque for Detroit's greatest architect should be in this spot but more needs to be done to keep up the home.

  16. #16

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    but more needs to be done to keep up the home
    By whom? These plaques get put up on private property because the then current owner agrees, but once the property is sold there is no requirement for the new owner(s) to maintain the property and no other funding mechanism for anyone else to do it.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by GPCharles View Post
    By whom? These plaques get put up on private property because the then current owner agrees, but once the property is sold there is no requirement for the new owner(s) to maintain the property and no other funding mechanism for anyone else to do it.
    Great question. I don't know if I have an answer for that. I would probably say it be deemed a historic place and be under an entity of sorts that would help at least monitor it so it wouldn't be sold or torn down.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zads07 View Post
    So Henry Ford shouldn't get a plaque for what he did, affecting the entire world?
    Correct. But the place where the first Model As rolled off should with the date of that event.

    Edison and Bell should not, but the places where they created their inventions that served the world should.

    An architect's office where he made a few drawings doesn't even come close.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Meddle View Post
    Correct. But the place where the first Model As rolled off should with the date of that event.

    Edison and Bell should not, but the places where they created their inventions that served the world should.

    An architect's office where he made a few drawings doesn't even come close.
    Then you and I have a difference of opinion. Totally OK with that, I just think Kahn should be better honored in a city that he had such a large impact on.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zads07 View Post
    Great question. I don't know if I have an answer for that. I would probably say it be deemed a historic place and be under an entity of sorts that would help at least monitor it so it wouldn't be sold or torn down.
    Something like what is done in Britain by English Heritage or the National Trust.

    Here in the U.S. we have the National Register, but it is largely toothless, poorly run, and ludicrously underfunded.

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by EastsideAl View Post
    Here in the U.S. we have the National Register, but it is largely toothless, poorly run, and ludicrously underfunded.
    The National Register of Historic Places is just a list.

    The National Park Service owns, operates, and maintains historic sites and buildings.
    Last edited by 48202; June-19-18 at 08:59 PM. Reason: deleted extra S

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Meddle View Post
    Correct. But the place where the first Model As rolled off should with the date of that event.

    An architect's office where he made a few drawings doesn't even come close.
    For you to be so dismissive as to say "just a few drawings", is quite flippant. So you don't think homes have historical significance, OK. But many of us do. There are even a lot of famous people's homes in......Greenfield Village!

    First, the house wasn't his office, it was his home. The Albert Kahn Building at 7430 Second Ave. was the office of Albert Kahn Associates from 1931 until this year, as they plan to move. Kahn employed 600 employees; I doubt even half of them could all fit in this house. He also had a second office in Miami. This house is both historically and architecturally significant, including one of the first residential uses of trussed concrete. At least the AIA Detroit thinks so.

    As for no markers for residences, well that just erases that much more of our history.

    Wouldn't you have liked it if the Boeing mansion was still standing? It's where William Boeing was born and spent his childhood. http://historicdetroit.org/building/boeing-house/

    How about Charles Lindbergh's house? I'm still upset about that. Even the Cheesecake Factory started when a housewife sold cheesecakes to restaurants out of her house. So many people and companies got their start here. It's about time we strut our stuff and be proud of our history, and lay it out for all to see.
    Last edited by kathy2trips; June-20-18 at 11:08 PM.

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by GPCharles View Post
    By whom? These plaques get put up on private property because the then current owner agrees, but once the property is sold there is no requirement for the new owner(s) to maintain the property and no other funding mechanism for anyone else to do it.
    You could add a preservation easement, to make sure the house isn't demolished or significantly altered. But there isn't anything that says you have to maintain it.

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by archfan View Post
    You could add a preservation easement, to make sure the house isn't demolished or significantly altered. But there isn't anything that says you have to maintain it.
    That's very true. All one has to do is look around the city at significant structures crumbling before our eyes to support that fact. A plaque, however calls attention to the significance of the structure and, perhaps, raise awareness of just what Detroit has in the way of tangible, touchable history.

  25. #25

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    ^^ It has NO significance. Again, if this was where he did his work and accomplished something historic there, fine. But apparently all he did there was fill diapers.

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