John Mohyi

President & Founder, Michigan Central Station Preservation Society

2018 | Detroit, MI

Wayne State University| Economics and Psychology

"Michigan Central Station is a symbol for the city of Detroit. It reflected the greatness of Detroit in its heyday, its downturn, and now its comeback.”

Even before he was a student at Michigan State University College of Law, John Mohyi, ’18, honed his advocacy skills by fighting to preserve Detroit’s history. Today, his legal education helps him to approach the work with a new perspective.

Michigan Central Station is a major piece of Detroit’s past. Towering over the city at 18 stories high, the 500,000 square-foot building was once a highlight of the city, moving people to and from Detroit for 75 years. It has been abandoned since 1988, slowly deteriorating.

Born in Detroit the same year the station closed, Mohyi never saw the building in its full glory, but he saw something that deserved to be saved.

In 2009, the City of Detroit voted for an expedited demolition of the Michigan Central Station. Mohyi was a student at Wayne State University at the time, and felt inspired by the building’s history and its architectural significance to Detroit.  

“Michigan Central Station is a symbol for the city of Detroit,” said Mohyi. “It reflected the greatness of Detroit in its heyday, its downturn, and now its comeback.”

Mohyi established a nonprofit organization called the Michigan Central Station Preservation Society, which sought to rally the community and remind them of the station’s impact on Detroit. Volunteers organized grassroots clean-up efforts, an online petition, and social media activism. Mohyi’s involvement with the project shifted in 2013, but he remained an active member of the society throughout law school. Today, he’s once again leading the Preservation Society.

The Michigan Central Station no longer faces an uncertain future: Ford Motor Company purchased it in May of 2018. It will house Ford’s autonomous vehicle initiative, once more playing a vital role in the story of American mobility in the Motor City. The building will also feature offices, retail space, and restaurants.

With Ford now leading the charge to transform the Michigan Central Station building, the Preservation Society will continue to have an impact by collecting artifacts from the station’s history.

In addition to Mohyi’s nonprofit work, he is also an inventor, currently working on a bladeless propulsion system for drones and automobiles. While Mohyi has a lot on his plate at the moment between a patent-pending invention and participating in bringing an iconic Detroit landmark back to life, he’s also making time to study for the bar exam. He sees his legal education as a critical element in all his current endeavors.

“Now that I have the knowledge, I can’t imagine how I operated without it. I see the world through a very different lens. It changes the way you think on a very fundamental level,” said Mohyi. “I’ve applied this legal wisdom to every aspect of my life – and I’ve grown incredibly as a result.”