McKay Tower Historical Grand Rapids Event Venue

The Ballroom at McKay has a rich history dating back to the mid 19th century, and we are proud to preserve this history through design details such as marble columns and classical ceiling details that form a perfect backdrop for dream weddings. Learn more below about the history of our building and how it fits into the history of Grand Rapids.


The downtown Grand Rapids space currently occupied by this historic high-rise was first purchased by Joel Guild in 1833, where he built his home.


McKay Tower becomes National City Bank in 1865 when the decision was made to merge National City and The City Trust & Savings banks into one large building.


McKay Tower was only a few stories and known as the Wonderly Building, serving as a historic landmark on the Grand Rapids skyline. Designed by architects with Owen-Ames Kimball, Co., the Grand Rapids National City Bank added to the building, for a total of four stories in 1914.


In 1925, an additional twelve stories were added, plus two more mechanical floors in the early 1940s, effectively giving Grand Rapids its new tallest skyscraper. The Amway Grand Tower surpassed McKay Tower’s tallest skyscraper title when it was completed years later in 1983, and McKay Tower now holds the title of the fifth-largest building in Grand Rapids. Until Amway Grand’s Tower Plaza was constructed, McKay Tower held the title of the tallest building between Chicago and Detroit.


In 1942, notable businessman Frank D. McKay purchased the building from the bank and renamed the building after himself. McKay was a Republican activist and Michigan state treasurer who later willed the 145,000 square foot building to the University of Michigan upon his death.


As the central hub of Downtown Grand Rapids, the McKay Tower is eighteen stories tall and currently offers many spaces for multi-functional use. 2013 renovations include lobby updating, the remodeling of luxury apartments on the fifteenth floor, as well as the revitalization of the former Grand Rapids National Bank on the second floor into a state-of-the-art wedding and event space more commonly known as The Ballroom at McKay. McKay Tower also offers an expansive rooftop deck and lounge area for a picturesque view of downtown Grand Rapids and an unforgettable wedding or corporate event.

For more information on McKay Tower, visit their site here.