Detroit’s Parade Co. Details $45M Campaign for New Headquarters and Studio

The Parade Company today announced an update in their efforts to raise $45 million for a new headquarters and parade studio with the launch of the campaign, “Be A Heart of History.”
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The Parade Co. has launched a multi-million campaign called “Be a Heart of History” to get the funds needed to purchase a new headquarters. // Rendering courtesy of The Parade Company

The Parade Co. today announced an update in their efforts to raise $45 million for a new headquarters and parade studio with the launch of the campaign, “Be A Heart of History.”

The Be a Heart of History campaign is the next step forward in the Parade Co.’s vision of restoring the R. Thornton Brodhead Armory, which will become the organization’s new 160,900-square-foot studio, design, and operation headquarters.

The new headquarters also will serve as a community destination for residents and visitors. Located at 7600 East Jefferson Avenue, three blocks east of East Grand Boulevard (entrance to Belle Isle), the site is adjacent to the Detroit River and connects to the Riverwalk.

“Our vision for the new Parade Co. headquarters and studio is to create a beautiful, world-class space that is the heart and soul of Detroit,” says Tony Michaels, president and CEO of The Parade Co. “We challenged ourselves to envision a space that reimagines the Brodhead Armory and connects our near century of tradition with our future in Detroit as one of the most stunning parade studios in the country.”

The organization’s new home and parade studio will celebrate Detroit and commemorate its history — the architect was William Buck Stratton, who designed Henry Ford Hospital and the Belle Isle Bath House, among other structures, and was married to Mary Chase Perry Stratton, founder of Pewabic Pottery.

Constructed in 1930, the Brodhead Armory was used as a training facility and site for civic and sporting events until it closed in 2004. It has since remained vacant.

For the renovation and expansion, The Parade Co. has convened a team of architects, designers, and preservationists led by Kraemer Design Group (KDG) in Detroit. In addition, Rossetti, an architectural firm in Detroit, created the plans for rehabilitating the 30,600 square foot front portion of the armory as well as an additional 130,300-square-foot expansion toward the river.

“The scale and heart of this project is for the Detroit community and families,” says Michaels. “Our goal is to become a destination along the Detroit riverfront near Belle Isle for residents and visitors offering spectacular tours, hosting thousands of children at youth camps, arts programs, and educational opportunities, while showcasing our amazing collections of iconic parade floats, Italian papier mache heads, and watching our teams of artisans at work. Our new studio will also be a wonderful event center to host major events with organizations and companies throughout our region and state.”

The legacy of the Brodhead Armory is an essential part of the building and will be integrated into the design. Under the hands-on guidance of Historic Surfaces conservator Anthony Kartsonas, the project will restore a severely deteriorated building through the repair of a collapsed roof and restoration of historical artwork and other salvageable elements.

Maintaining the timeless legacy and honor of those who served, the plans also include an office for the Detroit Veterans Coalition where veterans can gather, host meetings, and plan their events.

“The Metropolitan Detroit Veterans Coalition (MDVC) has been gratified to have Tony Michaels and The Parade Co. as an advisor and friend of the Annual Detroit Veterans Day Parade,” says Jerry Eden, chair of the Annual Detroit Veterans Day Parade. “And now, with the commitment the Parade Co. is making to veterans at the Brodhead Naval Armory project, veteran organizations like ours will always have a place to call home.”

In addition to serving as the headquarters and creative and production space for the  Parade Co. team and artists, the new home will be a destination space for youth summer camps, arts programs, STEAM workshops, tours, internships, and more.

“The new home vision creates an exciting opportunity for the future of this storied organization and the important work of bringing the Detroit community together,” says Bob Riney, president and CEO, Henry Ford Heath in Detroit and chair of the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation.

A series of campaign announcements are expected in the coming months. To become a donor of the Be A Heart of History campaign and to learn more, visit theparade.org.

The Parade Co., producer of the nearly century old America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Gardner White, attracts top partners and sponsors from Michigan and around the world.

Broadcast to 185 television markets in the U.S., the parade is recognized as the Best Holiday Parade in America by USA TODAY. In addition, The Parade Co. any produces several other Detroit events, including the Ford Fireworks (on June 26), Strategic Staffing Solutions’ Turkey Trot, and Hob Nobble Gobble presented by Ford Motor Co., among other year-round events.

Founded in 1984, The Parade Co. any is a not-for-profit organization governed by the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation whose board of directors is comprised of key civic and corporate leaders in the greater Detroit region.