Historic Meets Modern

46 Macomb Place Finds New Life as Law Office

In 1891, George and Mortimer Shotwell built 46 Macomb Place here in Mount Clemens. Designed in Queen Anne style, the building housed their business, called Mineral Springs Drug Store. At the time, architect Northup J. Gibbs designed many of the buildings in town, and 46 Macomb Place was no exception. The building featured electricity and steam heat, and along with the drug store, the first floor housed United Lines Telegraph Company. Above were three suites, which were described as “elegant”, and certainly were for the time.

In the decades that followed, 46 Macomb Place, also known as the Van Camp Building, was home to several businesses, including Brown and Brown Menswear, Hauptman’s Grocery, Hecht Appliance, Baskin Robbins Ice Cream, and McSorley’s Irish Pub.

Unfortunately, after sitting vacant for the past decade, the building had fallen into disrepair. After having his eye on the site for 25 years, 46 Macomb Place was purchased by Joe Nahas, President of American Tradition Custom Builders, who began an extensive renovation in collaboration with former Judge Jodi Debbrecht Switalski, owner of Switalski Law, PLLC, where she practices with her husband, retired Judge Mark Switalski. Says Jodi, “The exposed brick walls and original tin ceiling are what initially attracted me, but as soon as I toured the remainder of the building, I knew how much potential it had.” She continues, “The original build-out was supposed to be one suite upstairs and downstairs. We moved in while construction was in process but soon realized we needed to expand further to encompass Mark's mediation practice.”

As a result, the renovation was extended to additional suites and the rooftop of the building. The extra space will not just house the law firm, but allow space for community events such as fundraisers, Macomb Chamber LEAD meetings, and more.

Intent on preserving the history of the structure while reflecting the aesthetics of a modern law firm, Jodi and Joe chose to keep much of the first floor original to make the most of its unique character, while the second floor blends contemporary design with the structure’s historic appeal. Downstairs, the tin ceiling was painted yet left imperfect to retain its charm, and exposed brick and uncovered pipes complete the look.  The 7 ½ feet by 5 ½ feet windows, with transoms above, were enhanced with three additional windows on the Walnut Street side to maximize natural light.

To help provide a cohesive feel and reflect the time period the building was constructed, Edison bulbs are used throughout, from wrought iron pipe lighting fixtures to the large wagon wheel chandelier illuminating the library.

Artwork displayed in the building reflects the history of Mount Clemens, including photographs of the Macomb County Building from 1935, the Mount Clemens Pottery Company from 1914, and a photo of 46 Macomb Place from 1955. Additionally, pieces of wallpaper dating to the early 20th century discovered during the renovation were framed and are on display. Other pieces relate to justice and the law, such as Rosa Park’s mug shot and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Another interesting find during the renovation was an entire wall of law books, some dating back as far as 1874. The completed law library at 46 Macomb Place houses these books, along with the firm’s diplomas and professional achievements.

In addition to their law practice in its freshly renovated historic home, Jodi and Mark will serve as Honorary Chairs for the 2023 ArtParty at the Anton Art Center on September 21.  Says Jodi, “This is the largest fundraiser of the year for Anton and a spectacular evening. The Anton Art Center exemplifies the impact that art can have on community development, education, inclusivity, and everyday life. It plays a key role in defining Mount Clemens as an Art City.”

Through their work at 46 Macomb Place and with the Anton Art Center, Jodi and Mark express their commitment to Mount Clemens. A source of pride is “deepening our investment into the community and the people in addition to committing to the resurgence of Mount Clemens,” according to Jodi. “Being a part of this community and giving back to it is quite special.”

“The exposed brick walls and original tin ceiling are what initially attracted me, but as soon as I toured the remainder of the building, I knew how much potential it had.”

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