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Green Light Detroit owner to scale Penobscot Building to fix light


Since it opened in 1928, the Penobscot Building has been one of the architectural crown jewels of Detroit’s downtown. It was the eighth-tallest building in the world and the tallest in Michigan until the Renaissance Center hotel tower was built in 1977.

Generations of Michiganders knew that the top of this Art Deco tower was marked by a red neon light. But big sections of that light have burned out.

Todd Farnum, owner of Green Light Detroit, plans to climb the 47 story building to fix those lights.

“I’m experienced at it and for me – as a child seeing that ball lit – you know it’s always been a prominent part of the skyline of Detroit,” Farnum said. “I feel a sense of nostalgia, and wanting to get it lit. Currently there’s a lot more people also that are behind me on it, so it’s quite an honor to be able to do this for them.”

Farnum said he’s been receiving emails, messages and lots of press in regards to his upcoming feat to save Detroit’s iconic red light. Some difficulties he knows he’ll encounter include the high winds found at such a high elevation – 650 feet at the top of the building – and Michigan's weather.

“It’s a challenge, but I’m up to it,” he said.

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