This rather nondescript commercial building is one of Detroit’s oldest surviving hotels.
The Hotel Metropole was designed by Richard E. Raseman, who would go on to co-design the Grand Army of the Republic Building and other Detroit landmarks. It opened Aug. 17, 1898, on Woodward Avenue, about a half block north of Congress Street. A reception was held from 9 p.m. until midnight on opening day for “their gentlemen friends and hundreds availed themselves of the opportunity to inspect the premises,” the Detroit Free Press reported the following morning.
The hotel’s opening was “a most credible addition to the list of Detroit’s hostelries,” the Free Press wrote. “In every particular, the new house is tastefully and elegantly fitted, and it presents an unusual number of attractive features.”
The 60-room hotel moved into the former home of the Mabley stores, which had vacated and moved into the Majestic Building two years earlier. Half of the rooms had baths, a luxury at the time the Metropole opened.
The lobby was finished in red curly birch with marble pillars. The walls and ceiling were dark green. It had one elevator. To its left was the bar room, finished in sycamore with a buffet in quartered oak. The lobby and bar both featured a mosaic floor.
The building’s exterior was mangled during the 1950s or ’60s, with much of its original detail removed for a stripped-down, simple look.
The 20,000-square-foot building — which is occupied only on the ground floor (by the Bangkok Crossing restaurant and others) — was bought in June 2013 by Dan Gilbert.
More on this building of Detroit coming soon.