Historical Landmarks

383. Pewabic Pottery – December 30, 2018 – Detroit, MI

december2018pewabicpottery1 (2)december2018pewabicpottery3 (2)december2018pewabicpottery4 (3)Pewabic Pottery, how excited I am to finally be acquainted with you!

I knew that the pottery studio and shop established in 1903 by Mary Chase Perry and Horace Caulkins had a rich history in Detroit and had long wanted to visit. I didn’t realize until I pulled up to the building on a sunny Sunday afternoon in late December 2018 that it is a National Historic Landmark, with an exterior as gorgeous as the handcrafted goods housed inside.

Entering Pewabic’s first-floor showrooms, I was enchanted by the array of beautiful handcrafted ceramic goods made both in-house and by featured outside artists. I browsed the decorative tiles, vases, ornaments, urns, and serving dishes and selected a snowflake ornament and a sea-foam-green glazed decorative tile that reads “Detroit is Beautiful” to take home with me.

After making my purchases, I walked up to the second floor, where I perused ceramic pieces and written plaques outlining Pewabic’s history.

I’m keeping this post immensely short and sweet for me, because as you may have noticed, this is my first time posting here in over five months (WTF, Self???), and I’m simply happy to be back on the blog and finally showcasing this Detroit gem. It is definitely worth a visit, both for the simple pleasure of browsing the meticulously crafted goods and for the opportunity to support the local artisans who make them.

10125 E. Jefferson Ave.

Detroit, MI 48214

www.pewabic.org

377. Motown Museum – November 24, 2018 – Detroit, MI

November2018Motown3 (2)November2018Motown1 (2)November2018Motown2 (2)After three-plus weeks away, it feels great to be back on 100 Places in the D, highlighting some Detroit goodness!

I didn’t mean to take nearly a month’s hiatus from the blog. But between preparations for the holidays and cray-cray busyness at my day job, it happened – and here I am, on one of the very last days of the year, writing a post for a visit I made over Thanksgiving weekend.

But what a visit it was! On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I jaunted over to the Motown Museum in Detroit to soak up its historical vibes.

I almost didn’t make the 11 a.m. tour I’d purchased tickets online for earlier that morning, due to foolishness on my part (a.k.a. failing to factor in time for parking). Worth noting: the Motown Museum doesn’t have its own parking lot, AND it’s adjacent to a funeral home – which was hosting a visitation on the morning of my visit. So street parking near the museum was scarce.

The good news was that there was metered parking available along West Grand Boulevard, the street on which the Motown Museum is located. I ended up parking across the street and down a ways, near Henry Ford Hospital. From there, it’s only a few minutes’ walk to the Motown Museum.

I scrambled into the museum and up to the ticket counter to check in. Fortunately, I was only a few minutes late, and the staff was kind enough to let me join the tour, which had just started.

I was surprised to find a group of about 20-something people on the 11 a.m. tour, including people from England and Germany and Americans visiting from out-of-state locales. Of course I shouldn’t have been surprised, given that the museum and the Hitsville U.S.A. building at 2648 West Grand Boulevard that it features has a big reputation, having been the birthplace of Motown Records, that venerable music label that produced major acts such as the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson 5, and Smokey Robinson.

The tour, which lasted about an hour, included a video presentation, viewings of Motown-related memorabilia (including one of Michael Jackson’s famous black fedoras and signature glittery gloves), loads of interesting facts, and walk-throughs of Motown founder Berry Gordy’s former living quarters, the preserved lobby of the Hitsville U.S.A. building, and the famed Studio A recording studio, where our group got to sing and dance along to a few bars of The Temptations’ “My Girl.”

After my visit to the Motown Museum, I’m in awe of what Berry Gordy has achieved. Within years of convincing his family to loan him $800 so that he could start Motown Records, he was making millions and fostering some of the biggest musical acts in the world.

Recalling his time working on a Ford Motor Company assembly line, Gordy applied the assembly-line concept to his Motown artists, hiring coaches to help with dancing, etiquette, and finances to transform incoming fledgling singers and musicians into polished performers.

His hard work and ingenuity paid off – so much so that the Hitsville U.S.A. building that acted as recording studio from 1959 to 1972 is now part of this museum that has attracted thousands of people from all over the world.

On the day of my visit alone, the Motown Museum received high levels of traffic; as I was leaving, I heard a member of the staff tell walk-in visitors there weren’t open spots on a tour until 5 p.m. (it was a little after noon).

Visitor interest must at least partly account for the Motown Museum’s planned expansion in the coming years to a 50,000-square-foot exhibit space with estimated construction costs around $50 million.

It was somewhat hard to fathom that the relatively quaint-looking house I found myself standing within on that November morning was the epicenter of a musical powerhouse. It was a profound piece of history to experience – and one more reason for me to believe in Detroit being one of the coolest cities in the world.

2648 W. Grand Blvd.

Detroit, MI 48208

www.motownmuseum.org

350. Andrews on the Corner – July 27, 2018 – Detroit, MI

July2018AndrewsOnTheCorner2 (3)On a recent guided tour of Detroit’s oldest bars, I frolicked at the Two-Way Inn, Abick’s, and Nancy Whiskey. The Two-Way Inn and Abick’s were new-to-me visits – and hence, they were new to 100 Places in the D (YAY!), while Nancy Whiskey was a revisit, as I first made the 116-year-old bar’s acquaintance during the 2017 Corktown 5K/parade shenanigans (though I was thrilled to experience the Irish pub’s patio during warm weather this time around!).

Then there was Andrews on the Corner, our final stop on the tour – and another new place for both me and the blog (YES!).

I was immediately intrigued by this riverfront-adjacent downtown bar when our tour guide mentioned that it’s historically been a hangout for Detroit Red Wings players and coaches. Our guide explained that both Scotty Bowman and Mike Babcock are said to have had beers at Andrews before coaching Stanley Cup finals matches, while a bartender on duty told me that Steve Yzerman (my childhood love!) once offered to buy the joint. Whether these tidbits are fact or fabricated lore, I loved learning them because I’m a big Wings fan – and how cool is it imagining championship teams holding court at Andrews?

At any rate, the family-run bar that’s currently in its centennial year (Happy 100th, Andrews!) is laden with framed photos of Wings players. It also features a food menu loaded with delectable-sounding sandwich and appetizer options, including poutine (YUM) and the compelling Hot and Spicy Mac n’ Cheese Bites (which feel like they leapt straight from my brain and onto that menu – I mean, cheese AND spice AND fried??? Yes, please!). And of course, Andrews offers a full bar, replete with local craft brews.

The visit to Andrews on the Corner concluded the guided tour of four of Detroit’s oldest bars – but I’m still mentally reveling in the experience and can’t wait to tour more of the ancient taverns currently in operation. If you’re a local or planning a visit to Detroit, I highly encourage you to check out all four of the enchanting, history-laden bars I hung out in during this tour – and any others that are calling to you. The city is definitely chock-full of charming watering holes, be they old or new!

201 Jos. Campau Ave.

Detroit, MI 48207

www.andrewsonthecorner.com

349. Abick’s – July 27, 2018 – Detroit, MI

July2018Abicks1 (2)July2018Abicks3 (2)July2018Abicks2 (2)Abick’s is represented on 100 Places in the D!!!

All four of the oldest-of-the-old Detroit bars that I recently toured were AMAZING; Abick’s – the oldest family-run bar in continuous operation in Detroit – stands out as my favorite.

Located in a residential neighborhood of Southwest Detroit, the bar has long been a fixture of the community, having opened in 1907.

Step inside, and you’ll see why it’s lasted so long: the welcoming staff, homey, down-to-earth environs, and cheap drink prices are the perfect components of a classic neighborhood hangout – and let me not forget the solemn-eyed Mastiff hunkered down near the bar and compelling artifacts on display that highlight the establishment’s rich history.

Speaking of Abick’s lengthy and lasting life span, here’s an important component of it: according to the guide whose tour brought me to the bar, it has historically been a hangout for police officers and firefighters. This is highlighted by the existence of call boxes inside the bar – old-fashioned telephone boxes that back in the day enabled police and firefighter patrons to be in communication with their offices while they were frequenting Abick’s (how’s that for catering to one’s market?). Nowadays, the call boxes are locked (and, according to our guide, are storage lockers for high-end liquor).

The call box shown in the photo above is housed in a small room toward the back of Abick’s designated as a cigar lounge. Glass cases displaying a multitude of medals bestowed on the bar by police and firefighter clientele also adorn the walls of this room.

Further highlighting Abick’s rich history is a slideshow display in the main area of the bar recounting significant moments in its timeline and that of the Abick family. Tracing the evolution of both via the information presented there, it was wonderful to realize that Abick’s and the family who own and operate it have been supporting the community in various ways (offering free food to patrons during the Great Depression, for instance) for over 110 years! What better place to encapsulate the enduring spirit of Detroit than this one?

A final tidbit worth noting: Abick’s is a cash-only establishment (consider it another aspect that adds to its old-school appeal).

3500 Gilbert St.

Detroit, MI 48210

348. Two-Way Inn – July 27, 2018 – Detroit, MI

July20182-WayInn1 (2)July20182-WayInn2 (3)July20182-WayInn3 (4)The Friday before last, I toured some of Detroit’s oldest bars, and it was AWESOME.

When I say old bars, I mean OLD! Like, pre-Prohibition old! Detroit being one of the oldest cities in the country, it’s got a rich history, and that rich history includes grand ol’ watering holes, some of which have been in operation for a hundred years or more.

I’ve been dying to tour all of the oldest-of-the-old Detroit bars since I read an article highlighting them in Hour Detroit several years ago. I wanted to design a tour of those I hadn’t hit yet and attempted to one night in June. Plotting them on a map, I noticed the bars that interested me were scattered around the city and realized the endeavor would be logistically complex. So I did an internet search for guided tours of Detroit’s oldest bars, found one, and recruited friends along for the (bus) ride. Operation Antique Saloon Shenanigans was underway!

The experience they crafted being an absolute delight, I planned to give a glowing shout-out to the tour provider in this post – until I remembered that they prefer to keep the identities of the four bars visited on the tour a secret. Since I want to cover the bars that were new-to-me places here on 100 Places in the D but don’t want to overtly ruin the surprise of the tour, I’m going to keep the company’s identity anonymous. Just know that it’s great and that if you search “oldest bars in Detroit tour” online, you can pretty easily figure out its name and that of this entertaining, enlightening, downright fun tour.

On to today’s featured bar: the Two-Way Inn! It was our first stop on the tour and currently holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously running bar in Detroit, with an inauguration date of 1876.

1876! That’s a mere 11 years after the Civil War ended!

Guys, this place is LIIIIFFFEE. It’s got this gorgeous dark wooden bar that was paid for by Stroh’s in exchange for the promise to peddle its beer. It’s got a pool table and colored twinkle lights festooning the bar and an antique cigarette machine advertising a cost of five cents. The walls are studded with old photographs and deer antlers and an epic velvet painting of John Wayne. Basically, it’s got coziness and character for days and is saturated with history.

Speaking of history, here’s an interesting tidbit: according to our tour guide, the Two-Way Inn got its name from its two entrances and the habit its male patrons had of entering through the front door and exiting out the back. He explained that many wives of the patrons were angry that their husbands squandered their paychecks at the bar. When a wife suspected her husband was drinking at the Two-Way Inn, she’d show up at its front door looking for him. A lookout would identify the wife and alert her husband of her presence, and he’d roll out the back door before she saw him. Sneaky rascals! In present-day time, the front door is the sole door through which patrons can enter.

Another fun detail about the Two-Way Inn is that there’s a bell hanging above the bar that you should take care not to ring – unless you’re prepared to purchase a round of drinks for the house! We joked that the tallest guy in our tour should stand near the bell, increasing the odds of him inadvertently knocking it with his head and being forced to buy all of our beverages.

About 45 minutes were spent by our group at this glorious establishment (and at each of the other three bars we visited on the tour). We were the tavern’s sole patrons during that time – though a Pabst rep did pop in with hats, free PBR, and other swag, to the delight of the group. I sipped a Short’s Soft Parade, chatted with my friends, the tour guide, and others in our group of approximately 15, and crushed hard on this bar with 142 years of operation under its belt and counting. Two-Way Inn, I’m delighted to have made your acquaintance!

17897 Mt. Elliott St.

Detroit, MI 48212

www.2wayinn.com

319. Detroit Public Library – April 7, 2018 – Detroit, MI

April2018DetroitPublicLibrary1 (2)April2018DetroitPublicLibrary2 (2)April2018DetroitPublicLibrary3 (2)April2018DetroitPublicLibrary4 (3)Libraries are some of my very favorite places in the world. So it’s insane to me that I’d never been inside the Detroit Public Library before my visit last Saturday.

At least, I think I’d never been inside the library before then. I’d definitely previously examined the building’s exterior, with the names of famous philosophers and emblem of “Knowledge is power” carved into its white stone, and viewing it again made me wonder, Have I been here before and forgotten? It definitely seems like the kind of place we would’ve toured via a school field trip, such as the downtown architectural tour I took with my high school Humanities class.

Prior to writing this post, I consulted a friend who was in that class and has a memory far superior to mine, and she doesn’t recall touring the Detroit Public Library on that Humanities field trip. Whew. This place is too good not to recount on the blog, so I’m happy to be able to count it as a new-to-me place! And I hope I wouldn’t have forgotten visiting a building with as stunning an interior as this one.

Now, when I’m referring to the Detroit Public Library, I’m referring to the Main branch, the grand old building on Woodward Avenue across from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Did you know there are additional branches of the Detroit Public Library throughout the city – over twenty? I knew there were multiple locations of the DPL before recently perusing its website, but I didn’t realize there were that many!

I count 22 branches of the Detroit Public Library currently on its Locations page of its website; in its About section, it references 23 (perhaps one has closed since that was written). Either way, it’s a heck of a lot of locations, which makes me happy, because in my humble opinion, every neighborhood deserves a library.

Libraries are one of my safe spaces! I find them calm and soothing and peaceful. I’m sure much of why I feel that way has to do with the fact that I’ve adored books since I was a small child. Books are also my happy place; I love, love, love to read. Exploring the world via books is as enjoyable to me as exploring the world in real life is.

Initially, the Detroit Public Library was not looking like it was going to be a safe or happy or enjoyable space at the time of my visit. Approaching it, I heard angry yelling and spied a collection of blue-shirted men clustered near the entrance. I was confused – were the security guards arguing amongst themselves out in public? Turns out, no, the bulk of the yelling was coming from a disgruntled library patron who was being ejected.

Yikes. Libraries are generally safe spaces, but because they are spaces that are free to the public, they are liable to having the occasional tortured soul show up – like that guy, who appeared to be grappling with larger problems than being someone who got kicked out of libraries. The moment energetically threw me off, but it also imbued me with a sense of gratitude for not having bigger issues to deal with in my life than the relatively small ones I wrestle with – and for being someone who doesn’t have to worry about getting kicked out of libraries (since I am OBSESSED with them!). The fracas concluded, my curiosity took over, and I began to explore.

Something I’d assumed about the Detroit Public Library Main branch was that because the building that houses it is large, its collection must be large, as well. I didn’t find that to be the case on my visit. It’s completely possible I missed a huge swath of its collection, but from what I saw, proportionate to the size of the building, the Main Library’s holdings seem to be rather small.

But there is fiction and nonfiction and biographies and graphic novels, a teen’s section of the library, and the Burton Historical Collection, a Detroit-centric historical archive started from the donated private collection of Detroiter Clarence Monroe Burton, which I didn’t see but that sounds impressive from its description on DPL’s website. And let’s not forget that this branch share resources with over twenty other locations across the city, which is kind of mindboggling to contemplate. Over the entire network of libraries, there must be an impressive accumulation of resources.

And the space itself! As is the case with many of the buildings in Detroit, the one that houses the Main branch of the Detroit Public Library is old and elegant. It was built in 1921, in the “Italian Renaissance Style,” according to DPL’s website, and it shares those supremely grand details of that style and era. There are stained glass windows, intricate murals, gold-leaf detailing – beauty that I have neither the architectural aptitude nor vocabulary to describe. It’s stunning – just stunning!

The hall shown in the last photo displayed above was my favorite area of the building. Is that not the most magnificent place to read and work and study? I sat at one of its tables and read for about a half hour, pausing periodically to gaze in wonder at the intricate metalwork of its ceiling and the vibrant murals painted on its walls. That is beauty, my friends – this city is indeed beautiful, in large part because of the many stunning architectural gems, such as this one, that it houses.

5201 Woodward Ave.

Detroit, MI 48202

(Closed on Mondays; with over twenty additional locations with varying business hours)

www.detroitpubliclibrary.org

101. Ardmore Café – January 30, 2015 – St. Clair Shores, MI

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Stepping into the Ardmore is a trip. The Victorian house is a historical landmark with a colorful past (including a stint as a combination speakeasy/gambling house/whore house during the Prohibition era) but the quaint, fussy décor of a refined great-aunt. The dining room of the Ardmore Café is spread out over several rooms of the house, including one in which a piano player plinks out so many cinematically-featured tunes on Friday and Saturday nights (Titanic‘s “My Heart will Go on”; the theme from Legends of the Fall). The dinner fare is on the fancier side, with exquisite cocktails such as the chocolate-cake martini and meals such as roasted beef tenderloin. Dinner is offered Thursday through Saturday; lunch is Monday through Saturday.

The Ardmore also hosts a salon, some doctor’s offices, and a really cute shop called the Urban Attic. It’s definitely an eclectic place!

26717 Little Mack Ave.

St Clair Shores, MI 48081

www.ardmoreparkplace.com

61. The Whitney – September 20, 2014 – Detroit, MI

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They say The Whitney is haunted . . . and after visiting it last weekend, I can see why departed souls would be reluctant to leave it. It is absolutely gorgeous. The detailing and craftsmanship in this beautiful old mansion, as in other aged architectural landmarks that have been preserved in Detroit, fills me with such awe and appreciation that such lovely places still exist, evading the demolition and decay that have taken too many of the others.

4421 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48201

http://www.thewhitney.com