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William A. Doyle Building

229 East Michigan Avenue

Arguably the jewel of the Haymarket District, the William A. Doyle Building was built in 1890-91. Despite the absence of his name on the building, William’s brother James also contributed to this downtown landmark. With its stylized facade, a bold mixture of Romanesque Revival and Queen Anne features, Doyle’s four-story building has provided office space, hotel rooms and a variety of commercial businesses since its construction, beginning with the Kalamazoo Pant Company, which occupied the first two floors.

Kalamazoo Pant and Overall Co. at street level, c.1893. KPL catalogue number P-719

The Irish-born mason and builder’s frequent run-ins with the police, typically the result of alcohol-fueled antics, likely contributed to his departure from Kalamazoo. He was also known for his involvement in legal and financial disputes with others, including a case involving B. Desenberg Company in 1889. In 1898, the Doyle brothers struck out to Alaska to seek their fortunes in the Klondike Gold Rush, but returned having failed to profit from their efforts. Looking for a fresh start, or maybe as an escape from the trouble he constantly found himself in, Doyle left Kalamazoo and headed westward to pursue sewer construction opportunities, ending up in Hollywood, California.

“The building utilizes several important features of the Romanesque style: rounded-arched windows, richly profiled cornices, a central tower and contrasting surface textures and materials. The building’s facade is faced with rusticated stone veneer and a contrasting brick and is dominated by the dormered central tower. The building also features an elaborate stamped metal cornice.”–National Register of Historic Places


Restoration

In the spring of 1985, a $3 million project led by The Arcadia Creek Development Co. to rehabilitate the interior and exteriors of three of the Haymarket District buildings (The Doyle, The Desenberg, The Doubleday) along E. Michigan Avenue began, and was completed the following summer.

Kalamazoo Gazette, February 24, 1985

Written by Ryan Gage, Kalamazoo Public Library staff, March 2022

Sources
Books

Walking Through Time: A Pictorial Guide to Historic Kalamazoo, Brendan Henehan (H 720.9774 H 498)

Local History Room Files

Subject File: Buildings – Kalamazoo – Michigan, E., 229-233

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