History of the 4444 Second Ave Building

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History of the Area

Warren-Prentis Historic District

The Green Garage is located at 4444 Second, which is considered part of the Warren-Prentis Historic District of Detroit. As Detroit became a leading manufacturing center in the last 2 decades of the nineteenth century, and the population doubled in size, many professionals and managers were looking for housing that would reflect their increased status. This area was considered a prime location as it was close enough for those who still had to commute by horse and carriage. Leading architects were hired to develop these substantial homes. By the 1920's, this area, particularly along Cass Corridor, was also was home to many of the first automobile dealerships, and this was the first use of the Green Garage.

The area began to decline during the Great Depression, when most families found that they could not maintain such vast residences. Many of these homes were rented to multiple families, who often did not keep them up. During the 1950's and 1960's when the population of the area decreased sharply, the area went into further decline, and in the 1970's and 1980's, the Cass Corridor was known as an area of numerous illegal activities.

The area has seen a resurgence since the 1990's with increased student populations, Cultural Center and medical center activity. The Warren-Prentis district contains 108 historic structures, and is notable because the majority of the pre-1930's building stock remains. More information can be found at the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department.

History of the Green Garage building

Polk's Detroit City Directories at the Detroit Public Library

The building was constructed in 1920, during a boom time in Detroit. We examined a number of volumes of Polk's Detroit City Directory (if you'd like to see a sample of one of these directories, Google has digitized an 1855 Detroit directory. We found out that the building has had many owners -- here's what we've learned so far:

Detroit City Directory 1921-1922

  • 4442-50 Second Blvd.....DeFord Motor Truck Co
    • Jas M DeFord (pres)
    • E Foster Moreton (vice pres)
    • Jas L Weir (sec-tres)
  • 4445 Second Blvd.....Schad, Phillip G. and Hoffenbacher, Fannie


Detroit City Directory 1922-1923

  • 4442-50 Second Blvd.....Ames-built Sales Corp (bodies for Model T cars)
    • Chas E Walker (pres)
    • Geo A Hans (vice pres)
    • L R Welcome (vice pres)
    • H G Beebe (Jackson, MI) (vice pres)
    • Chas G Nielsen (sec and tres - auto bodies)
  • 4445 Second Blvd.....Schad, Phillip G.


Detroit City Directory 1924-1925

VACANT


Detroit City Directory 1927-1928

  • Wayne Automotive Supply Co


Detroit City Directory 1929-1932

  • Harrison Radiator Corp.
    • Geo VanAlstyne (br manager)


Detroit City Directory 1932-1933

VACANT


Detroit City Directory 1934-1937

  • Harr Oldsmobile Co
    • David P Harr (pres)
    • Mrs. Eliza C Harr (vice pres)
    • Frank P Kottenstette (sec-tres autos)


Detroit City Directory 1938

VACANT


Detroit City Directory 1939

  • Hartman Motor Sales
    • Earl T. Hartman
    • Abraham Farris


Detroit City Directory 1940

  • ABC Garage
    • Morris Cameron


Detroit City Directory 1941

  • McCray Refrigerator Co. and Dealers Auto Radio


1941-1942

  • Samuel Kanners brought his shoe supply business to the building


1944

  • Bob Zukowski begins work at S. Kanners and Co.


1952

  • Frank Lucente starts work at Kanners and Patrize shoveling coal after school


Detroit City Directory 1956

  • S. Kanners and Co.
    • Samuel Kanners, President


Detroit City Directory 1958

  • Victor Kanners and Samuel Patrize brought their shoe businesses together into the building. Becomes Kanners and Patrize.


Detroit City Directory 1964 and 1965

  • Kanners and Patrize Co.
    • Victor Kanners
    • Samuel Patrize

1968

  • Annex built

1967

  • Detroit riots

1968

  • Windows bricked up in building on advice of insurance company

1976

  • In 1976, the building was co-owned by 4 people who worked there:
    • Bob Patrize (Samuel Patrize's son) (President) (sales)
    • Bob Zukowski (Vice President) (ran office)
    • Chester Martin (Secretary) (sales)
    • Frank Lucente (Treasurer) (ran warehouse)

1990

  • Bob Zukowski leaves and the business was sold to Frank Lucente's 2 sons, Frank and Douglas Lucente in 1990. The boys owned the business and the father owned the building.

1996

  • Dave Lucente sold out to Doug Lucente in 1996.

1996 or 1997

  • Building is sold to John Linardos of Motor City Brewing Works.

2007

  • John Linardos sells the building to Tom and Peggy Brennan.

Fall 2009

  • Construction on Green Garage starts.

More on the Ames Corp

Ames-built Sales Corp sold replacement bodies for Model T cars from 1916, when the carriage business was forced out by the automobile business, until 1926, when they were no longer needed.

Additional Material

Historic Pictures

The interior of the building in the 1920's
The exterior of the building in 1922
The exterior of the building in the 1960's
The exterior of the building in the 1960's
S. Kanners & Co. Sales Force in 1948
Martin and Bob Zukowski with The Chief circa 1948



Current Research

Research into companies or ideas associated with the building's history

From meeting with Bill McElhone of the Birmingham Historical Museum and Park

Organizations:

  • Society of American Archivists
  • Walter Reuther Archives at WSU
    • Mike Smith
    • Cathy Schmelling
    • might have students who need work
  • Manning Bros Collection
  • Burton Historical Collection at MSU
  • State archives
    • Corporation records
  • National Automotive Heritage Collection (part of Det Pub Lib)
  • Detroit Auto Dealers Archives
  • Preservation Wayne

People:

  • Robin Boyle (WSU Planning Department)

Businesses:

  • Allegra - for printing photos
    • Marguerite (248-390-5531)

From meeting with Marsha, Marilyn, Bob and Frank April 8, 2010

Property originally bought from "3 friendly Indians" (On the Abstract)

1922-23

  • Ames bought chassis from Ford & cabs from a furniture company in Kentucky and assembled them at this building

Pre-1941

  • Before 1941 building was a service garage

History of Kanners

  • Sam Kanners born in 1896 came from Romania
  • Originally was a finder (called on businesses and businesses asked them to "find" the supplies they needed) and worked out of his home at Forest and Beaubian
  • 1925 Wendt, Steffen and Kanners opened at 33 Elliott (Elliott and Woodward)
    • Wendt died during World War II
    • Steffen was in Buffalo and only furnished money
  • 1941-2 S. Kanners Co. moved to 4444 Second
    • Note: current Midtown area was birthplace to shoe business. Businesses started as shoe repair shops and also sold shoes.
    • "The Chief" sponsored people from the old country when they a=came to America
    • Bob started with the company in Sept. 1944 He was 14 and made 45 cents an hour.
    • Ida Kanners was head of finance
    • Frank started with the company in 1952
    • in the 1950's Victor Kanners took over the company
    • 1940's Bob had a '36 Plymouth that could only turn left. In 1950's Sam gave Bob an envelope with $1000 and told him to buy a new car
    • 1976 Victor Kanners sold business to Bob & Frank, Chester and Bob Patrize
    • 1996 Frank sold the building to John Linardos
  • Misc. Notes:
    • Before annex was built, it was a dirt lot where the staff would park their cars. The brick wall has parking places marked with staff member initials.
    • Cinch products were their brand

Links