Capitol Park District
Capitol Park is a public park bounded by Shelby Street, Griswold Street, and State Street. The Capitol Park District includes the park and seventeen surrounding buildings for a block in each direction. The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. Several famous architects, including Albert Kahn and Gordon Lloyd, contributed buildings within the Historic District. The buildings demonstrate the transformation of Detroit from a prospering nineteenth century commercial center to a modern city.
In 1823, to house Michigan's new government, a courthouse was built in Capitol Park. When Michigan became a state in 1837, the building became the state capitol. In 1847 the state capitol was moved to Lansing. The building was then used as a public high school until 1893, when it was destroyed by fire. The land was then converted to a park, and it has remained a public space up to the present.
Capitol Park also has a historic connection to the Underground Railroad. In 1850, Seymour Finney purchased a plot of land near the park and erected a tavern with a large barn. Finney used his barn to hide escaping slaves before their final trek across the river into Canada. A State of Michigan historical marker has been erected in the park to commemorate Finney's Barn.
In 1905, the remains of Michigan's first governor Stevens T. Mason were interred in Capitol Park. A statue of Mason by sculptor Albert Weinert was later erected over the grave. The monument and grave were relocated during the 2009 redevelopment of the park.
The opening of the Rosa Parks Transit Center in downtown Detroit in July 2009 marked the end of Capitol Park's 54 year use as a transportation center. The Downtown Development Authority utilized this window of opportunity to institute a comprehensive investment strategy for the district. This began with a renovation project by the DDA to redevelop the public space in an effort to draw new businesses to the area.
To continue this effort the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and a group of other economic development agencies sought creative proposals to redevelop three historic buildings surrounding Capitol Park. Interested Developers were given the Capitol Park Development RFP
and the pre-development presentation
that accompanied the RFP for all of the details about the project area.
After months of deliberation the Detroit Downtown Consortium selected Karp and Associates for the Capitol Park Redevelopment project. The news release can be read here