Historic Detroit

Every building in Detroit has a story — we're here to share it

Metropole Building

What is now home to Bedrock's headquarters is also one of Detroit's oldest surviving hotels.

The Hotel Metropole was carved out of an existing building on Woodward Avenue, about a half block north of Congress Street, that opened in 1881. The building was originally designed by Mortimer L. Smith for the Mabley department store, but in 1896, Mabley moved into the Majestic Building at Woodward and Michigan avenues. When Mabley moved out, the Metropole moved in.

The 60-room 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. The hotel opened Aug. 17, 1898, with 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."

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, including its stately cornice.

The 20,000-square-foot building -- which was occupied on only the ground floor (by the Bangkok Crossing restaurant and others) -- was bought in June 2013 by Dan Gilbert and converted in 2017 into the new headquarters for his Bedrock family of companies. The renovation work included not only repainting the brick white but also re-creating the building's original cornice and restoring the storefronts. The architects of record for the renovation were Neumann Smith and Christine Costa of RTA Architects. Kyle Evans Design handled the interior.

Last updated 26/03/2023