To honor Detroit’s history, Preservation Detroit and Wayne State University are presenting an architectural tour for residents, students and visitors of the city. 

Participants will be able to take a tour of the historic Fisher Building, Guardian Building, Belle Isle Aquarium and the Detroit Opera House Sept. 21. 

The tour will begin with a presentation from Preservation Detroit, an organization that started on WSU’s campus that strives to preserve historic places within the city, according to their website.

“Because so many of (Detroit’s) buildings went up in the first 30 years of the 20th century, we have a fantastic collection of Art Deco buildings clustered downtown,” Mickey Lyons, Preservation Detroit tour director, said.

The tour costs $10, which includes round-trip transportation to each site, according to Preservation Detroit’s website.

According to the organization’s website, more than 130 tours of historical sites are held each year by Preservation Detroit.

Ann Capela, program specialist for the Office of International Students, hopes people view Detroit differently after embarking on the tour.

“My motivation is to show international students what Detroit is really about,” Capela said. “I often introduce these students to Detroit and show them that Detroit is different from what they see in movies.”

This is the first time that OISS has partnered with Preservation Detroit to bring tours to students, Capela said. 

Some of her favorite buildings within the city are the Guardian and Fisher Buildings, Capela said.

Lyons, a WSU alumna, pointed out there are great examples of architecture on and near WSU’s campus. Examples of industrial architecture can be found in New Center and the Milwaukee junction area, she said.

One example in our backyard is the Maccabees Building — which Lyons always loved going to, she said. “I’d make sure to go early enough to walk around the lobby and look at the mosaics and the beautiful stone carvings.”

Tracy Neumann, a WSU history professor who focuses on urban development, believes researching Detroit’s architecture is essential in understanding the problems Detroit has faced. 

Architecture can teach us about a society’s values, organization and forms of cultural expression, she said.

“From water shut-offs in some neighborhoods to gentrification in others—it’s essential to figuring out how to make Detroit a more equitable place to live for newcomers and longtime residents alike.”

More information about Preservation Detroit can be found at


Tickets for the Detroit architectural tour can be purchased at


Cover photo by Jonathan Deschaine

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