When Detroit Grocer Chauncey Hurlbut died in 1885, he willed the bulk of his fortune, some $250,000, to beautify Waterworks Park on Jefferson Ave. The architectural philosophies of the era called for construction of monumental gates at the entrances to public places and part of Hurlbut’s fortune was used to construct just such a gate.
Herman A. Brede and Gustave Mueller were chosen to design this gate at a cost of $30,000. 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.It is decorated with carved garlands, water fonts and roundels, and an American eagle with outstretched wings tops the entire structure. Two stairways lead to a terrace twelve feet above the ground.
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. 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.