Historic Detroit

Cadillac Hotel

In its time, the Cadillac Hotel was one of Detroit’s finest hotels and stood on the corner of Washington Boulevard and Michigan Avenue from 1888 until 1923. Presidents Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft all stayed there.

The corner has been home to a hotel since the completion of Blindbury’s Hotel in 1852, which later became the Antisdel House. The Cadillac Hotel’s origins date back to 1885, when Daniel Scotten bought the east half of the block on the north side of Michigan between Washington and Shelby. On that site he built a four-story business block between Washington and Shelby that was rented to a grocery company that soon failed. It was then that he built the Cadillac Hotel, designed by the firm John Scott & Co. in 1888. The structure, with its Italianate and Romanesque style, proved successful, so he bought and razed the Antisdel next to it and built an addition to the hotel on top of it.

By 1891, the Cadillac Hotel covered the entire block fronting on Michigan between Washington and Shelby. At this point the boulevard was mostly residential, but times were changing. The Book brothers — real estate moguls Herbert, Frank and James Burgess Book Jr. — were looking to turn the thoroughfare into the exclusive, fashionable shopping district of Detroit and started snatching up property along it.

On June 30, 1903, the Detroit Board of Commerce was formally organized and incorporated under state law inside the Cadillac Hotel’s Turkish Room. It had 253 charter members, including J.L. Hudson, who paid $100 each to join.

Entering the 20th Century, the Cadillac had become outdated and was struggling to compete with the Statler and Pontchartrain hotels.

Looking to capitalize on the hotel business that was booming thanks to their revamped boulevard, the Book brothers bought the Cadillac and took it over May 1, 1918. Historian William Hawkins Ferry wrote that the Book brothers were born inside the hotel and played along the landscaped mall outside it. Though it seems unusual that all three would be born in a hotel, especially considering how their father was a notable doctor in Detroit at the time, it is certainly possible considering the lack of hospitals in the area.

The Book brothers ran the hotel until plans were finalized for something bigger and more grand. The Cadillac Hotel closed its doors for good on June 26, 1923, and was razed later that year to make way for one of Detroit’s most beloved and opulent landmarks, the Book-Cadillac Hotel.