Faces in the Crowd

They keep vigil over the city in frozen silence, many of them for a century or more, just waiting for a return glance. We get face to face with some of these sculptural adornments on Detroit’s architectural wonders.



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The Penobscot Building, created in 1928 (earlier sections built in 1905 and 1916.

Photographs by Cybelle Codish

A glance upward at many Detroit buildings may be greeted with a return look from a stony likeness — human, animal, or fantastical.  

Such architectural embellishments were most common on American buildings erected between 1870 and the advent of postwar modernism. In Detroit, noted architectural sculptors Corrado Parducci and Edward Wagner applied their craft to many buildings, including the Guardian, Buhl, Penobscot, and Fisher buildings (Parducci) and the pediment on the Wayne County Building (Wagner).

Today, the enduring works of Parducci, Wagner, and others reward the simple act of looking up. Following is an up-close and personal glimpse of several venerable city structures that invite us to take a walk and enjoy some face time.

 

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