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Detroit Institute of Technology

Detroit, Michigan



Two very helpful sources of information on Detroit Institute of Technology were Educational Work of the Young Men’s Christian Association by William F. Hirsch and One Hundred Years with Youth: the Story of the Detroit YMCA 1852-1952 by Adolph G Studer.  Both are included in the HathiTrust collection.  Lawrence Institute of Technology is in the process of digitizing images of DIT.  The seal is from the LIT website.


Detroit Institute of Technology grew out of the Y.M.C.A. Association Institute, an evening school founded in 1891.  By 1908 the name had been changed to Detroit Technical Institute and in 1918 to Detroit Institute of Technology.


Hirsch lists six schools in operation in 1920.  The College of Law offered a four-year program.  The College of Pharmacy was added in 1907 after separating from the School of Medicine.   The College of Commerce offered four-year programs in accounting, marketing, management, finance, and production.  The School of Engineering had electrical, mechanical, chemical, automotive, and machine trade programs leading to a B.S. degree.  The Hudson School was a high school offering a college prep program as well as training in business and technology for students who did not plan to attend college.  The Detroit School of Religion was also a part of D.I.T. The College of Liberal Arts was added in 1922.  

Studer notes that during the 1930’s enrollment reached 2,600.  During World War II, students and graduates of Detroit Institute of Technology contributed heavily to the war effort. During the war the school added more than a thousand special government courses.  After the war, enrollment stayed high as returning veterans used their GI Bill to gain technical training for the job market.


Due to the economic recession of 1992, the school closed. 


The most famous graduate of D.I.T. was Henry Ford.   The image (left) is from Library of Congress.


Bricks and Mortar

Classes began at the Y.M.C.A. Building on the corner of Griswold and Grand River.  Studer notes that the school soon outgrew that building.  In 1909 it moved to a new Y.M.C.A. building on the corner of Witherall and East Adam.  This was a massive nine-story building.   According to the Bently Historical Library, this building contained reading rooms, a library, two gymnasiums (one for men and one for boys), a swimming pool, five floors of residence rooms, handball courts, and administrative office space. The Detroit Historical Society says that it contained a gymnasium “second to none in this country.”   That building was later razed to make way for the new Tiger Stadium.  


In 1972 When S.S. Kresge moved his headquarters out of Detroit, he awarded his Second Street building to the Detroit Institute of Technology.  This is a five and one half story limestone-faced building across from Cass Park near downtown Detroit.  Designed in 1928 by architect Alfred Kahn, it was built to hold 1200 employees.  The building went on the National Register in 1979.


After D.I.T. closed, the building ultimately became a part of Wayne State University, used to house incubating businesses such as the Metropolitan Center for High Technology.


The Kresge Building (User:Andrew Jameson <>)

CC BY-SA 3.0 accessed 11-17-2017


Team name: Dynamics

Colors: Purple and White


The first D.I.T. sport mentioned in newspapers was basketball.  In 1921 D.I.T. was badly beaten by an independent club called Moe Sport Shop.  But soon we read of a Y-Tech Co-op Athletic Association being formed.  D.I.T. competed in basketball along with Denison, Otterbein, Defiance and Baldwin-Wallace and the Co-op College of Engineering.  


College Football Data Warehouse shows football between 1928 and 1950.  Except for four winning seasons 1936-39 when teams went 22-12, D.I.T. teams were seldom successful.  Of 18 listed seasons, six were winless and in another five, teams won only one game.  The most common opponents were Adrian, Ferris State, Defiance, Albion, Michigan Tech, Hillsdale, Assumption, and Grand Rapids JC.  DIT dropped football during World War II; at the onset of the Korean War they dropped football again because many of their students entered war work.  It was never resumed.   

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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