It’s been almost two years I’ve been attempting to visit the Tierney Alumni House in Detroit (which used to be the Hecker-Smiley Mansion, named after two past owners of the mansion). The goal has been to get permission to put together a tour for photographers, but the alumni department has yet to create a program, even though it is something they plan to do in the future. Instead, my contact asked if I would be interested in coming to the mansion to photograph it. Ummmmm…yes please!

A few days later I was knocking on the door, filled with excitement at finally being able to step inside the mansion I have driven by on Woodward for years. The last tenant, a law firm, was quite adamant they were not open to photographers coming in take pictures. Okay, fine. But when I read the Freep article that Wayne State had purchased the building in 2014, I knew there would be a good chance it would become accessible to someone like me who wanted to capture it’s grandness.

The images below were captured during the two hours I made my way through the first floor of the mansion (the upper floors are alumni offices, which I did not photograph or see). The architecture is reminiscent of other Detroit mansions such as The Whitney mansion (now The Whitney Restaurant, which I photographed last month where I hosted an event for other Detroit photographers through Creative Vision Photography Workshops). 

You can read more about the history of the Hecker-Smiley Mansion/Tierney Alumni House at Wikipedia.

Images in this blog post are available for purchase on my website in the Detroit Historical Buildings gallery as well as many other Detroit images!

There were two sitting rooms on the first floor, one on the front of the mansion, and one on the back, both with amazing fireplaces and custom woodwork.

Beautiful mansion room in the Hecker-Smiley Mansion in Detroit Michigan
Hecker-Smiley Mansion Detroit Architecture

The staircase! It’s columns were quite grand, along with the stained glass window made for quite a scene.

In the middle of the mansion was the main lobby area for alumni house visitors.

A conference room was located on the north side of the mansion.

The wood details of the fireplace and built-in shelving were exquisite.

The exterior.


Images in this blog post are available for purchase on my website in the Detroit Historical Buildings gallery as well as many other Detroit images!


  • Walt Paholak
    March 17, 2017, 2:15 pm  Reply

    This is truly a wonderful photo story. Images are excellent. What great history.

    • Alanna St. Laurent
      March 20, 2017, 3:28 pm

      Thanks Walt for your comment, I agree this building has some great history and I’m happy to have been able to capture a glimpse of it.

  • LadyAna
    March 19, 2017, 9:54 am  Reply

    Thank you so much for this! I have long been a fan of Louis Kamper’s work, and it is an honor to finally see interior of some of his work. It Is just as beautiful as I imagined! Thanks again for using your photographic gift to show us a Detroit classic in architecture!

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