Eddystone Hotel, Detroit Michigan
The Eddystone Hotel is one of a collection of three Italian Renaissance style hotels constructed by Lew W. Tuller, during the 1920s, a period in Detroit's history that saw the construction of several luxurious downtown hotels built to accommodate the explosive population growth of the city. The Eddystone was part of a grandiose plan on the part of Tuller and other Detroit builders to duplicate the urban character and the real estate market of the city of New York. The hotel was designed by Louis Kamper, one of Detroit's most prolific and outstanding architects, who was responsible for the design of many of the city's landmark buildings.
The Eddystone Hotel was the first of three hotels to be built in the early 1920s along Park Avenue in the city of Detroit by Lew W.Tuller (1869-1957), a well-known local real estate developer. Tuller came to Detroit at the age of seventeen from Jonesville, Michigan where he had worked with his father who was an architect and builder. Five years later, with capital furnished by Senator Thomas W. Palmer, he started his own company as a building contractor. He was one of the first to build apartment buildings on Woodward Avenue, north of Grand Boulevard, where he constructed the Saragossa Apartments at the corner of Lothrop and Woodard and the Valencia Apartments next door.
The tremendous growth in the population of Detroit in the early 1900s due to its rapid expansion as an industrial city caused a considerable demand for living space, particularly residential hotels and apartment buildings. In 1905, Tuller acquired land west of Grand Circus Park at the foot of Park Avenue in downtown Detroit, where he constructed the nine story Tuller Hotel, despite skepticism that the hotel was "too far uptown" from the central business district. The Tuller Hotel proved to be such a success that he eventually added five stories to the original building and a few years later built a matching fourteen story annex making a total of eight hundred rooms. The hotel quickly became a local landmark and fashionable destination for both travelers and residents.
When the automobile industry began to transform Detroit into one of the world's great cities, the housing problem became a serious one. The population of Detroit rose 113 per cent from 1910 to 1920, according to the United States Census figures, rising from 465,766 to 993,739. This tremendous expansion in population was reflected in the increase of construction of apartment buildings and residential hotels within the city to accommodate these new residents. In 1924, Detroit surpassed Los Angeles as third in the nation for the value of building expenditures. Between 1924 and 1925, twenty hotels were constructed in or near downtown Detroit, adding 5,441 rooms to the hotel real estate market. The neighborhood north of Grand Circus Park became a prime location for new residential development due to its proximity to downtown and nearby transportation routes.
The south end of Park Avenue had already become a fashionable residential district in the early 1900s with the construction of the Tuller Hotel and other buildings like the Varney Apartments (1892), the Hotel Charlevoix (1905), and the Blenheim (1909) among others. During the 1920s a construction boom hit the south end of Park Avenue as the street became a business and shopping district. In 1923 property owners formed the Park Avenue Association hoping to emulate New York's Fifth Avenue. During their organizational meeting the members heard a speech by the president of the Fifth Avenue Association of New York. The association envisioned the south end of Park Avenue lined with high-class office buildings, shops and clubs, and residential development at the north end. Buildings constructed during this period in the south end included the Women's City Club (1923), the Iodent Building (1923), the Park Avenue Building (1923) and the Colony Club (1928).
The overwhelming success of the Tuller Hotel together with the economic boom of the early 1920s inspired Tuller to create his own hotel empire. He had visions of a grand Park Avenue in Detroit similar to New York's. By 1924 Tuller built three more hotels, the Eddystone Hotel, the Park Avenue Hotel and the Royal Palm Hotel, all along Park Avenue just north of Grand Circus Park. The Royal Palm Hotel is located in the south end of Park Avenue just four blocks east of the Eddystone. Estimates of Tuller's financial investment ranged between six and twelve million. The hotels offered accommodations for both transient guests and permanent residents in the "hotel district" of downtown Detroit. They advertised easy accessibility to transportation with locations just one block from two important traffic avenues, Woodward and Cass. The hotels were within walking distance of downtown Detroit for residents working in the new downtown skyscrapers. They were also located in close proximity to the theater district located in the area surrounding Grand Circus Park and the shopping district along Woodward Avenue.
The Eddystone was the first of Tuller's three hotels to open. The hotel was built on the northwest corner of Park and Sproat in 1924 and designed by Louis Kamper (1861-1953), one of Detroit's most prominent architects who was at the height of his career in the 1920s. Kamper had come to Detroit from the offices of McKim, Mead and White in New York and established his own office here in 1888. He was a devotee of the Italian Renaissance style that he introduced to Detroit buildings in an attempt to combine monumental beauty with the commercial style. In 1916 he became involved with J. Burgess Book, Jr. who had just become administrator of his father's large estate. Book had visions of developing Washington Boulevard downtown into a prestigious commercial thoroughfare comparable to Fifth Avenue in New York. Together with his brothers Herbert and Frank he was able to acquire control of sixty percent of the property along Washington Boulevard. Louis Kamper was chosen as the architect of this grand project and was responsible for the design of the Book Building and Tower, the Washington Boulevard Building, the Industrial Bank Building and the Book Cadillac Hotel. During this time Kamper also began working in collaboration with Lew Tuller on his development plans for Park Avenue and designed all three of Tuller's hotels there. Kamper was also later responsible for the design of other residential hotels constructed nearby including the Carlton Plaza on John R (1923) and the Savoy Hotel (1926) (now demolished) on Woodward Avenue.
The thirteen-story Eddystone Hotel was constructed with 312 rooms, a restaurant and five shops on the first floor. The shops included the Eddystone Sweet Shop, the Eddystone Beauty Shop and a Western Union telegraph office. The Eddystone was planned and outfitted according to hotel design trends of the period with a combination of sumptuous interior decorations and luxurious furnishings, particularly in the main lobby. The rooms were simply but tastefully decorated with disappearing Murphy wall beds, rugs, tapestries and the latest electric lamps. The majority of the rooms rented monthly and were designed with large, well-appointed dressing rooms, modern tiled bathrooms, and circulating ice water. The hotel boasted that its restaurant was managed and operated only by women allowing residents the opportunity of eating home-cooked meals.
Tuller apparently overbuilt in Detroit's hotel market. He lost the three Park Avenue hotels in 1928 in foreclosure and was forced into receivership by the Security Trust Co. In that same year Security Trust sold the Eddystone to David P. Katz. David Katz was a Detroit financier who made his fortune through hotels and extensive real estate transactions. He owned a hotel in Miami Beach and five Detroit hotels including the Royal Palm and the Eddystone along Park Avenue and the Fort Wayne Hotel located nearby at Temple and Cass Avenues. Katz owned the hotels until 1966 when the discovery of a two million dollar fraud scheme against him caused the collapse of his business and his health.
The surrounding South Cass Corridor neighborhood began to lose its population during the period following World War II. As suburban development grew, the area lost its middle class occupants who were replaced by lower income residents and the impoverished. As the population density of the area decreased, many of its apartment buildings and hotels were abandoned and later demolished. The Eddystone continued in operation as a residential hotel until the late 1990s when it was abandoned.
In 2005, plans to convert the Eddystone into 60 condominiums with street-level retail space were announced by then Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. In August 2010, work was being carried out on the site to secure the lower floors of the building by bricking up the windows. However, the planned renovation never occurred, and the building continued to sit vacant.
In 2015, Olympia Entertainment, the real estate segment of the Marian Ilitch-owned Ilitch Holdings, began construction on the Little Caesars Arena near the Eddystone. As part of the development, the Park Avenue Hotel was demolished, and Olympia was required to redevelop the Eddystone, which sits just outside the footprint of the new arena. The 2015 agreement specified that Olympia had to finish redevelopment of the Eddystone within one year of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy for Little Caesars Arena, which was issued on September 12, 2017. Olympia failed to comply with the requirement, as construction had not even started by August 2018.
After years of stagnated renovations, Olympia signed a development agreement with the City of Detroit that would require Olympia to have a $33 million letter of credit or performance bond that could be used by the city if Olympia failed to meet the agreed redevelopment. Subsequent to this agreement, renovations began on the building into 81 rental units and 38,000 square feet of commercial space. In August 2021, Four Man Ladder Management was selected to operate a new restaurant on the ground floor of the Eddystone. Their previous projects include Grey Ghost and Second Best bar in nearby Midtown and Brush Park.