There are some unique, interesting old apartments and single-family buildings in Detroit built in a variety of styles. Many are still occupied and well maintained. A few have unusual little additions on the front of them that contain businesses, restaurants or walkways leading to adjoining residential buildings. I don’t know how the concept of adding to the front of buildings evolved, but they are odd-looking.
Most of the quirky little additions are constructed of brick. A few are made of wood, and all the ones I’ve seen are attached to places that look to be 75 to 100 years old. Some tap into half of the front of the building, while others look to be attached just enough to allow for a standard doorway between the add-on structure and the home or apartment building. Some of the peculiar additions are painted in bright, eye squinting colors that glow in the sunlight.
However they evolved and whatever the reason for attaching them to the front of residential buildings might be, they sure are odd additions to the once beautiful, old residential homes. So odd in fact, that they destroy the architectural character of the buildings that are hooked to.
While looking at these places on my bicycle rides, I think the little square editions are some type of offshoot of the late 1800’s, early 1900’s version of a live/work environment. It wasn’t unusual back then for a store to be built at ground level with an apartment above.
I see the attached additions scattered about the city, mostly along busy streets on the fringe of good, solid neighborhoods. I wonder what it must be like for the people living in the apartment buildings or homes where these unusual additions are found.