Once billed as “Detroit’s most beautiful dance rendezvous,” the ornate venue attracted musical acts as diverse as Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, MC5, Velvet Underground and The Stooges.
City council refused to protect the building because of false beliefs that the social club was segregated.
Overlooking Belle Isle and the Detroit River, “the location is unrivaled in scenic beauty by any other apartment hotel in the world,” the Whittier boasted in the 1920s.
Brian Baulch never saw the wall collapse. Cascading bricks knocked the 31-year-old unconscious and buried him in a heap of debris.
It’s the first real test of Mayor Dave Bing’s plan to repopulate stable neighborhoods and transform vacant areas into lakes, farms, forests and greenways.