August 15, 1926...The Jackson Citizen Patriot announces
the Reynolds Building, Jackson's tallest business
structure is about to open. Its 14 stories overlook all
other business blocks in Jackson's mercantile district,
the dominating structure being the realization of an
idea conceived by Wiley R. Reynolds, president of the
W.R. Reynolds and Company, one of the city's leading
real estate and insurance concerns.
It was August 1st, 1925 that the old
building at 176 W. Michigan Avenue had been razed and
the ground sufficiently cleared so that the foundation
and excavation work could be started. The General
Excavation and Foundation Company of Detroit was
awarded the contract for the sinking of the caissons.
There were 20 caissons, 4 feet in diameter sunk to a
depth of approximately 40 feet through quick sand and
treacherous soil. The caissons were then filled with
concrete down to solid rock.
On February 15, 1926 the actual
construction work above ground was started. The
contract for this work was given to H. L. VanderHorst of
Kalamazoo. Albert Kahn, Inc.
http://www.albertkahn.com of Detroit were the
architects. Mr. Kahn has designed many famous Detroit
buildings, including the GM Building,
First National Bank Building, The David Whitney
Building, and the Detroit Athletic Club
to name a
This structure occupies a ground space
of 30 feet by 112 feet. It rises into the air 14
stories, equivalent to 198 feet, 2 inches. The building
is of steel and reinforced concrete construction,
thoroughly fire proof, complete with all the latest
features of building construction and service of the
The entrance into the building was
though bronze doors (hopefully to be replicated) into a
simplistic lobby. Travertine marble quarried at Tivoli
outside of Rome, Italy covers the side walls and floor.
Originally, black and gold marble from Belgium covered
the outside first and second stories. At this time, this
was very rare, only a few buildings in New York had the
black and gold marble.
There were seven offices per floor,
with each floor having 3075 square feet. 625 square
feet are used for elevators, corridors, toilet rooms,
stairways and smoke stacks, leaving 2350 square feet of
rentable office space.
There was a fur storage vault in the
basement of the building, with a cold storage plant
blowing freezing air into the vault for the protection
of furs against moths. The vault was constructed of
durable side walls of 12 inches of reinforced concrete,
the ceiling and walls are also reinforced with 12 inches
of concrete. In addition to the concrete on the walls,
5 inches of cork has been placed for insulation. A
three ton bank vault door with time lock combination is
found at the entrance way. The vault was even protected
by at phonetic alarm system connected to the American
District Telegraph office in Jackson,
The elevators have bronze doors, and
offered the latest style of express type lifts
manufactured by the Haughton Elevator Company of
Toledo. The elevators have a speed of 550 feet per
minute, and can reach the top floor in 20 seconds.
The building was sold to Ray Radner, a
Detroit attorney and investor, in 1943. It was sold
again to Charles Harris, president of Harris Investment
Co. in the 60's and renamed the Harris Building. A
restaurant, Mr. Ham, Mr. Beef was added to the first
floor. Mr. Harris was also the president of Harris-McBurney
Co., a utility contracting firm. Their offices occupied
the top 3 floors until 2002, when they moved their
operations to Florida.
Randy Dowding purchased the building
in the mid 90's, where he housed his Coldwell Banker
Real Estate offices. The building was again sold in
February 2003 to Tim and Donna Blake. The building was
renamed the Blake Building, and has undergone major
renovations, including replacement of all mechanical
equipment. The building currently enjoys 5
apartments, with plans for 4 more and many offices.
The first floor is the home of "A Frame Above", a custom
framing and gift store.
One of the original manual elevators
was replaced with a "modern" elevator in 2013. The
original bronze elevator doors still remain!