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Detroit’s Book Tower lights up night sky

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Visitors to downtown Detroit noticed a remarkable sight when gazing up at the skyline Wednesday night: the top of the historic Book Tower illuminated in light for the first time.

The ornate copper roof of the structure soaring above Washington Boulevard stood out among the other high-rises against the night sky, which passersby immediately noted on social media.

“So exciting...3 years ago I moved downtown and told people we will know Detroit has turned around when the Book Tower is renovated and lit up, and there is a new sky scraper in the skyline...part way there,” one user wrote on the Bedrock Real Estate Services Facebook page.

The company billionaire Dan Gilbert founded said in August it had acquired an entire city block that includes the 38-story Book Tower and 13-story Book Building at nearby 1249 Washington Boulevard along with a smaller building. Bedrock officials have said “a game-changing, mixed-use development” of housing, retail and office is planned.

Designed by renowned 20th-century architect Louis Kamper and dating to the 1920s, the Italian Renaissance-style Book Tower includes Corinthian columns, carved figures as well as other intricate touches.

The 241,000-square-foot building is named for the Book brothers: real estate entrepreneurs/developers J. Burgess, and Frank and Herbert Book. It’s also part of the Washington Boulevard Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Both Book structures have been empty since 2009. The Bedrock purchase is viewed as a move to restore the street — one of the main boulevards in the city and part of Augustus Woodward’s 1807 design, according to the Detroit Historical Society website — to its former splendor.