The El Moore, 624 W. Alexandrine, has a life of its own on the web. Vacant since the the early 2000s, its distinctive look and storied history, as well as a brief, mid-decade revitalization effort, kept people interested and talking about the building — and the lives lived within it — in news articles, blogs, photo sites, and discussion forums.
Together, these sites paint an engaging picture of the building’s recent history — a true “people’s history.” Here are some links & snippets:
From a comment on a 2006 photo-blog post about the building:
“I lived in the El Moore about 10 years ago. My rent was only $295 for a two bedroom apartment on the fourth floor.
There was horrible industrial tile on the floor when I moved in, so I ripped it up and refinished the wood floor beneath (much to the chagrin of the old lady who lived below me). I also ripped out the fluorescent shop light that provided illumination in the living room and replaced it with a more aesthetically pleasing fixture.
Other than that, the apartment was virtually untouched, and had many original architectural features, such as chest-high wood panelling, beamed celing, an intricately carved, built-in buffet or sideboard, and gas fireplace surrounded by an ornate mantelpiece.
I really miss that place.”
From a 2007 news article about an auction of some of the building’s historic furnishings, china, and architectural features the then-redevelopers held as a fundraiser for two community organizations:
“Auction items include: cast iron bathtubs with original claw feet; built-in sideboards with buffets and attached mirrors; a cylinder roll desk with hutch; a rare, embossed toilet bowl; fireplace mantles with curio shelves–most with original mirrors, tile and grates; a custom built, Victorian cherry wood bed; solid oak doors; upholstered cherry settee with finely carved arms; cherry drop leaf table; limoges fine bone china–service for 18; and a federal period bent oak rocker.”
(Another description of the items for sale can be found here.)
From a lively discussion on the Detroit Yes forum about the building from 2009:
“I lived at the El Moore from May 1999 to November 1999. Those were the best months of my life, I was right out of college and this was my very first place of my own. My rent was only $200 a month. I lived in the 1st floor in the front corner apt on the right side. All the residents were so pleasent. The apt manager was named “Maria” I belive. I remember having the most beautiful wood panel all over the living room. There was an old gas fireplace in the living room, I slept there due to the back bedroom being so cold at the time. To my knowledge, the building was half occupied at the time, and the tenants were the best!”
Finally, from Flickr:
A gallery of images of the building taken by different photographers from 2004-2013. You can really see it becoming covered with overgrowth (and then cleared again) over time. “Did you go inside?” a commenter asks photographer Robert Monaghan in 2009. “No,” he replies, “…It’s always so foliated, that I never thought of it.” It’s always so foliated, that I never really thought