Jan 12, 2012

Fleet Specialty Warehouse Building - Detroit

An Old Building
The Fleet Specialty Warehouse is one of those abandoned buildings that always intrigues me and catches my eye whenever I drive by it on West Fort Street. The building is not too far from the Ambassador Bridge. It's a large structure, and there aren't any buildings right next to it, so I'm sure that's part of the reason it stands out. However, the date on the front of the building signifying when it was constructed is really what always draws my attention. So much so, that in the video I needed to zoom in on it. I almost felt that I had to get a close up and record the date to make myself believe how old this building is.  From the outside of the structure it appears to be in good shape. And like all old, interesting abandoned buildings in the city, one hopes that it can be redeveloped and put to good use. 

Not Always a Warehouse
Through some Internet research (read Google) I discovered a blog called International Metropolis that has an archived post detailing some of the history of the building. At one time this was the laundry building of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd Reformatory for Girls. In one of the comments on that blog a person posted a link that tells the story that the Sisters of Good Shepherd eventually needed more space and moved from W. Fort Street to a location in Dearborn Heights. The new chapel was named Vista Maria and is where the Vista Maria organization to this day provides services to help girls and women. 

Check out the short video...

Update - July 4th 2014
Well, the Fleet Warehouse building didn't survive. The following link updates its sad demise.


  1. I'm sure I've passed that building many times but not have taken the time to notice it. I too like old buildings. While working downtown at the One Woodward Building, Michigan Consolidated Gas Co., in the 60's I enjoyed seeing the old office/shops buildings walking down Larnered St. to the parking lot behind Cobo Hall, the parking lot is gone of course.

    In the 50's I worked with a man who had a young woman from Vista Maria staying with him and family. I think the arrangement was to provide some stability in her life.

    I noticed how you withheld the date of the structure so one would have to view the video. Your investigation of the building's history enhanced and expanded the post. It added depth and interest. So much so that it found this link http://www.forgottendetroit.com/

  2. Thanks for your comment! Detroit is a definitely a city with rich architecture. It's nice to see old buildings get renovated, and unfortunately when that doesn't happen we lose history and often beauty. I'm sure you've seen many changes in the city. The website you posted is interesting, thanks for sharing.

  3. I remember going to that building when it was a truck/auto parts distributor. I think it was around the late 80's or early 90's.


  4. Thanks for the comment Chris! Interesting bit of information. I wonder if this building will ever get rehabbed and used again?


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