by Geoff George
Photo Show Opens Saturday, December 6, 5:00 – 10:00 pm, NOEL NIGHT
& Lecture/Conversation with Geoff George, December date TBD
David Mackenzie House, 4735 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201
Preservation Detroit welcomes cinematographer and photographer Geoff George for the first-ever print show of his Troubled Assets photography project. It aims to categorize and document the abundance of historic neighborhood bank buildings in the City of Detroit and surrounding areas. Their ubiquitousness, and craftsmanship, is a reminder of Detroit’s large role in finance and the economy between 1920 and 1950. As millions flocked to the city to work for the auto companies, downtown banks established neighborhood branches with high frequency. Great care was taken in their architectural appearance, utilizing stone carvings and rich detailing to exude confidence, class, and security to their banking customers.
Today, many of these historic structures still stand — no longer as banks, but rather as churches, hair salons, nightclubs, pawn shops, and day cares; others are abandoned, for sale, for lease, or their status is unknown. Their repurposing and contemporary uses reflect the human story of this dynamic city. While not formally recognized as historic, these buildings make up a substantial and recognizable part of the urban fabric of Detroit, and their future preservation is essential to maintaining our city’s culture, history, and legacy of architecture and design.
The photos are a survey of pre-1949 bank buildings in the City of Detroit. Most of these structures were the property of the Detroit Savings Bank (now Comerica), the National Bank of Detroit (before merging with the National Bank of Chicago), or the Peninsular Savings Bank. When the banks folded, their physical assets were sold, leaving behind the structures for commercial and sometimes even residential use. Troubled Assets is an ongoing project that can be followed on Instagram at @troubledassets or at the photographer’s website: www.gsgfilms.com
About the artist: Geoff George is a cinematographer, photographer, and camera professional from Detroit, Michigan. As a DP he is known for the contemporary and cutting-edge look he has brought to music videos and commercials, and as a 2nd Unit DP he has introduced captivating establishing shots of Detroit to several feature-length films. As a fine art photographer, he has explored historic industrial sites across North America and Europe, and exhibited in New York City and Turin. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in filmmaking and cinematography.