Hurlbut Memorial Gate

Hurlbut Memorial Gate is a monumental structure, 132 ft (40 m) long, 50 ft (15 m) high, and 40 ft (12 m) in depth, at the entry way to Water Works Park located at East Jefferson Avenue and Cadillac Boulevard in a historic area of Detroit, Michigan. It is named after Chauncey (sometimes "Chauncy") Hurlbut, a 19th-century Detroit grocer, president of the Board of Water Commissioners, and philanthropist.[3] The gate was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1974[2] and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.[1][4] The monument was built in 1894 and fully restored in 2007.

Hurlbut Memorial Gate
Hurlbut Memorial Gate Detroit MI.jpg
LocationEast Jefferson Avenue at Cadillac Boulevard
Detroit, Michigan
Coordinates42°21′39″N 82°58′53″W / 42.36083°N 82.98139°W / 42.36083; -82.98139Coordinates: 42°21′39″N 82°58′53″W / 42.36083°N 82.98139°W / 42.36083; -82.98139
Built1894, restored in 2007
ArchitectBrede & Mueller
Architectural styleBeaux-Arts
NRHP reference No.75000967[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPMarch 27, 1975
Designated MSHSJuly 26, 1974[2]


The city of Detroit began building its water system as early as 1824, with the construction of a waterworks at the foot of Orleans.[5] The prosperity of the city in the time after the Civil War allowed Detroit to develop a municipal water system, using water from the Detroit River.[5] In 1868, the city began developing Water Works Park, on Jefferson Avenue near at the foot of Cadillac Boulevard. The main function of the site was to provide water to the municipal system, but it was also intended to use the grounds to be used as a public park.[3] By 1879, the pumping station was completed,[3] and by 1900, the 110-acre (0.45 km2) park had become the second most-used park in the city.[3][5][6] Early French settlers planted twelve missionary pear trees "named for the twelve Apostles" on the grounds of what is now Water Works Park.[7] Water Works Park was named Gladwin Park in 1910 in honor of Major Henry Gladwin during Siege of Fort Detroit from Pontiac's Rebellion; however, the park is still more widely known as Water Works Park.

Chauncey HurlbutEdit

Chauncey Hurlbut

Chauncey Hurlbut (1803–1885) was born in Oneida, New York, and moved to Detroit in 1825.[8] He worked as a saddler and harnessmaker for a few years, then went into the grocery business with his brother-in-law. In 1837, Hurlbut bought out the grocery store, and continued in the trade until his death.[8] Hurlbut was also heavily involved in public service, serving on the board of the fire department, as a city alderman, as a director of the Detroit Board of Trade, and as a sewer commissioner.[8] Hurlbut also served on the Detroit Board of Water Commissioners from 1861 to 1863,[9] and again from 1868 to 1885.[10] He was president of the commission from 1871 onward,[8] when he presided over the original acquisition of property for and planning of Water Works Park.[9]

When Chauncey Hurlbut died in 1885, he willed the bulk of his fortune, some $250,000,[3] to beautify Water Works Park.[5] The architectural philosophies of the era called for construction of monumental gates at the entrances to public places, to symbolically separate the park from the hustle and filth of the city.[5] Part of Hurlbut's fortune was used to construct just such a gate.


Hurlbut Gate, c. 1895

Herman A. Brede and Gustave Mueller were chosen to design this gate[5] at a cost of $30,000.[9] The structure is a three tiered triumphal arch, 132 feet (40 m) in length, 40 feet (12 m) in depth, and over 50 feet (15 m) high, built from limestone.[5][9] It is decorated with carved garlands, water fonts and roundels, and an American eagle with outstretched wings tops the entire structure.[5] Two stairways lead to a terrace twelve feet above the ground.[3]

The gate originally featured a statue of Chauncey Hurlbut inside the center dome, and an ornamental iron gate for vehicle entry, but both are now gone.[5] The gate was substantially restored in 2007, with damaged limestone repaired or replaced, a stairway reconfiguration, repair of the eagle sculpture, and repair and replacement of light fixtures.[11]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ a b "Hurlbut Memorial Gate". Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Archived from the original on May 17, 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Laurie J. Marzejka (June 14, 2000)."Detroit's Water Works Park a gateway to the past," . Michigan History, The Detroit News. Retrieved on March 28, 2009.
  4. ^ Rebecca Mazzei (11-30-2005).Still Standing Metro Times. Retrieved on July 4, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Chauncey Hurlbut Memorial Gate Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine from
  6. ^ Daisy, Michael; Hughes, Richard. "Detroit Water and Sewage Department: The First 300 Years" (PDF). Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-02-04. Retrieved 2018-02-18.. Retrieved on March 28, 2009.
  7. ^ Marzejka, Laurie J. (June 14, 2000).Detroit's Water Works Park a gateway to the past . The Detroit News. Retrieved on February 17, 2010.
  8. ^ a b c d Silas Farmer, History of Detroit and Wayne County and Early Michigan,1890, p. 1156
  9. ^ a b c d "Hurlbut Memorial Gate," Archived 2008-05-13 at the Wayback Machine In the Flow, Vol. 7, No. 2, Summer 2007, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, p.6
  10. ^ Hurlbut Memorial Gate Archived 2007-10-11 at the Wayback Machine from the city of Detroit
  11. ^ Kelli B. Kavanaugh, Archived 2008-04-12 at the Wayback Machine "Restoration of Hurlbut Gate at Water Works Park nears completion," ModelD, August 7, 2007

Further readingEdit