Historic Detroit

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

Morgan Hotel

This hotel stood at Cass Avenue and Lewis Street (today known as Bagley Street), and was built in 1866 by William Eisenlord as the Eisenlord House.

Eisenlord was born to German immigrants and was a native of Lyons, N.Y. His parents moved to Novi, Mich., when he was 6 years old. There, the young William worked in his father's cooper shop and later learned to be a carpenter and cabinetmaker. In 1857, he and his wife, Sarah Hazard, moved to Detroit and leased the Perkins Hotel for three years. Three years after that, in 1860, he took over the Peninsular Hotel on the southeast corner of Grand River Avenue and Macomb (now Bagley Street) and ran it for five years, at which point he built his own nearby.

Eisenlord's wife died Sept. 13, 1885, and he decided to call it quits. That year, he sold it to E.C. Harvey. Just a year later, Eisenlord died, on Nov. 3, 1886, of a stroke.

Harvey renamed the place the Cass Avenue Hotel, a name that stuck from 1886 to 1895. In June 1886, ads boasted that the hotel had been "newly fitted throughout." Rooms were $1.50 and $2 per day. Another ad from that October said, "We have expended many thousand dollars since last spring to make this a first-class family hotel and our boarders are now among the best." In 1891, an additional story was tacked onto the building.

By 1892, the hotel was run by Frederick Soop and Fred J. Soop, who noted in ads that its "100 large, comfortable rooms (are) heated with steam" and "lighted by electricity." The Cass Avenue Hotel also was one of only two strictly temperance hotels in the city at that time. (The Franklin House was the other.) Rooms were $1.25 to $1.50 per day, with special weekly rates offered. Single meals were a quarter.

In 1895, the firm Malcomson & Higginbotham was hired to make alterations and improvements to the hotel for its then-owners, Hubbard & Dingwall.

The business then became the Windsor House, a name that stuck until 1904.

In 1903, William B. Morgan his wife, Elizabeth Jane Morgan, moved from Kansas City to Detroit in order to enter the hotel business. They found that opportunity in acquiring the Cass Avenue Hotel.

Morgan also would go on to run the Lindell Hotel. The couple was active at the Church of Our Father, which was near the hotel, on Grand Circus Park.

In October 1903, Morgan hired the architectural firm Williams Bros. to remodel and refinish the old building. Among the additions were an electric passenger elevator, ornamental glass, steam heat, mosaic marble tile, flooring, Adamant plaster, electric lighting, wooden mantels, bath tubs and bathrooms.

It was at this point that proprietor William B. Morgan took the place over and named it after himself, calling it the Morgan Hotel.

In February 1908, Morgan bought a two-story, 23-room dwelling from the estate of William C. Yawkey, and had it torn down in order to build a four-story addition that seamlessly blended with the original building.

Elizabeth Morgan died Dec. 11, 1914, after suffering two strokes.

In 1928, the City sought to widen Bagley Avenue between Cass and Michigan avenues from 40 feet to 90 feet. To accomplish that, it moved to condemn more than a dozen properties - including the Morgan Hotel. Following a six-week trial and three days of deliberation, on June 21, 1928, a condemnation jury awarded $324,217.46 to the Morgan Hotel - $100,000 less than requested. The judge in the case was future Supreme Court Justice and Detroit Mayor Frank Murphy.

On Oct. 16, 1929, the hotel's furniture and furnishings - from its rugs to its linen - was auctioned off at the hotel. Interestingly, also auctioned off were 100 pieces of unclaimed baggage. The hotel came down at the end of 1929.