How Detroit’s preservation movement started in the West Canfield Historic District

Story behind Detroit’s first historic district

West Canfield Historic District sign. (WDIV)
West Canfield Historic District sign. (WDIV)

DETROIT – Follow the cobblestone road to one of Detroit's most historic streets and the start of a preservation movement that's still alive today.

The West Canfield Historic District, built on a cobblestone road in Detroit's budding Midtown neighborhood, has preserved much of its storied history through the ups and downs of the city.

The historic neighborhood on West Canfield is located between Third and Second, sandwiched between Willis and Prentis. It's one street with 14 Victorian-style houses, many dating back to the mid-to-late 1800s.

692, was built in 1880 by Dr. Henry Cowie, a prominent dentist in Detroit.

The street has seen it all. Many of the homes have been through fires and remodels, serving as homes to blue collar families, as well as prominent Detroit historical figures.

Present-day residents of the street work together to keep its story intact and accessible, while much of the surrounding area is being redeveloped.

The birth of West Canfield

The upper middle-class Victorian homes that occupy the West Canfield Historic District date back to the 1870s when Detroit's growing population began pushing at the edges of the city's original boundaries.


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