In 1965, one of Detroit’s most striking modernist, brutalist skyscrapers, the Lenore, was in deep financial trouble. Market troubles had meant that Lenore Automotive Glass Company, the building’s namesake and primary tenant, was unable to pay for the remaining construction. For a time it looked like the half-finished building would blight Detroit’s skyline for years before being unceremoniously hauled down.

However, the United States government stepped in and leased the remaining office space, providing the money needed to top out the building. It took over the topmost 10 floors, while Lenore and a variety of smaller tenants took the space below.

In most respects, the Lenore was the standard, boxy, functional skyscraper that was in vogue at the time. However, each of its topmost three floors had what looked like a frosted, latticed window set into it, three stories high and angled slightly. One window faced in each cardinal direction, and the area behind them was always lit. There was speculation that Lenore was running a testing facility or perhaps a basketball court there. The architectural drawings simply labeled the area “mechanical space.”

Less than a month after the building was open, amateur radio enthusiasts throughout the Midwest began noticing a strange and powerful signal interfering with their transmissions and receivers. A series of stuttered electronic clicks, the signal was quickly nicknamed “Woody Woodpecker” and was the cause of considerable frustration, as it was most active at night, when most amateurs were on the air.

Eventually, the signals ceased, and by 1985 the Lenore was all but abandoned, with only a handful of tenants and a mountain of debt. Finding a security door rusted out and unlocked, a group of Wayne State students made their way up to the top. The area, apparently abandoned in haste, confirmed that “Woody Woodpecker” was a powerful prototype over-the-horizon (OTH) radar array built into the building. The government’s lease had been a mere cover story.

Unfortunately, the explorers soon found out why the project, and the building, had been so abruptly abandoned.

Only one of them lived to tell the tale.

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