David Thompson, a wealthy Detroit businessman, died in the early 1870s, leaving his estate to his wife Mary with instructions to establish a charitable institution. In 1874, Mary Thompson allocated $10,000 to build a home for aged women. However, construction did not start until nearly ten years later when land was purchased and Mary commissioned George D. Mason of the firm Mason & Rice to design the home.
Mason designed a four-story home measuring 60 by 90 feet with private rooms for forty women. For a number of years, the Thompson Home was a prestigious retirement home for wealthy widows. Sun rooms were added to the original structure in 1914, living quarters for the staff were added in the 1950s, and a five-bed infirmary was constructed in 1964. However, the number of residents declined in the 1960s and 1970s, and the home closed in 1977. Wayne State University bought the building and remodeled it, and in 1980 WSU’s School of Social Work was installed in the building.
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