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Before (left) and after (right) power washing. Daily Detroit photo.

The building at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Grand River has a long history, and is one of the most ornate exteriors in the city of Detroit, and possibly the United States.

For years the Book Tower was ridiculed as one of Detroit’s ugliest buildings. It turns out when the exterior gets a deep cleaning its intricate art that sits high above the city streets comes to life. Although some of us always appreciated the structure for its unique design.

It’s a rare Renaissance-style skyscraper that for a short time was the tallest building in Detroit, built in two sections – the shorter office block in 1916-17 and the tower in 1926 and designed by Louis Kamper. 

The building, bought by Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Real Estate in 2015, has been undergoing an extensive renovation and restoration. It’s an ambitious project that all told by the end of the project could easily cost more than $100 million. A 2016 report says that the work will take three years.

Having visited the building a few times before it was closed in the early 2000s, it has all kinds of small architectural surprises inside and out. For instance, back then, there was a mothballed large glass dome on the third floor.

Back in 2015 we took some photos, and today took a new series that closely matches the angles of the old pictures.

The difference is striking. Take a look and enjoy.

View from the front/Washington Boulevard.

A detail as viewed from the Grand River side.

Look up!

You can really see the grime removed in this one.

Many of the details have been restored or replaced. The work done on the Caryatids is amazing.

Can you find the missing arm in the before picture above?

The front entrance is looking good.