December 28, 2011

A Call for Old Corktown Photographs

Dear Neighbors,

As anyone who reads this blog knows, long descriptions and lists of names can only go so far in re-creating Corktown's past. There is no substitute for historical photographs when it comes to bringing that past to life.

In the name of preserving and sharing Corktown's history with neighbors, researchers, and anyone else interested in our neighborhood, my neighbor Scott Robichaud and I have started a photo group on which you can find here:

This photo group contains a modest collection of images so far, but we hope that submissions from our neighbors help it grow into a useful library of historical Corktown images.

Here is an overview of what we have available right now:

  • In 1976, all of the structures in many of Detroit's historic neighborhood were photographed in what was called the Detroit Urban Conservation Project. Previously, the only digitized versions of these images were found at, but availability was hit-and-miss and the images were fairly small. With the help of my friend Allan Machielse, we were able to track down the film negatives at the Detroit Historic Designation Advisory Board office downtown. I have re-scanned the negatives for the Corktown Historic District and the 2400x1600 pixel images are now online and free to download. This collection contains 451 images.

    The year 1976 may not seem incredibly "old", but these photos could potentially be valuable to some people. Consider 2036 11th Street, for example, which looks like this today:

    Image courtesy of Google Street View

    Should someone become interested in restoring this home and re-creating its original wraparound porch, the following image from the Detroit Urban Conservation Project would be good to have:


  • Scott has obtained 146 street-level images from the year 1954 from throughout Corktown that appear to have been part of a presentation against the demolition of historic homes in the name of urban renewal. He has scanned and uploaded the images, which you can find here. The sample photo below depicts the old Roosevelt Hotel on 14th Street.

    14th 2250-2236

  • Neighbor Mona Graham has graciously loaned us the tour booklets for every single Corktown Historic Homes Tour since the very first one in 1987. This collection contains 194 images.


If you have old photographs of Corktown (no later than the year 1999) that you would like to share, please email us at corktownhistory at yahoo dot com. If you do not have digital copies of your photos, we would be glad to scan them for you, and handle your photographs with the utmost care and respect. Scott is the owner of the Joseph Kingston House (previously featured here) and author of the blog Redemption in Corktown, documenting the renovation of his home from 2007 to 2010. I have lived in the neighborhood since 2005, and I currently reside in North Corktown. I also own the Susan Buchanan House on Bagley near Sixth Street, which I rent out.

If you are interested in being a part of this project, please let us know!

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