Archives for May 2015

Construction Update – Week of May 25, 2015

The day is finally here. The first group of residents is moving in over the weekend. I got a chance to get over to the building this week and took a few more photos. I should mention that you'll see a photo of a cistern being erected on a corner of the building. Right now it does stand out, as it is shiny metal, but it will soon be painted black to match other parts of the building. It will be used to collect rainwater, which will feed our outside plants. Here are this week's photos. I'll include photos of the move-in in the next post. … [Read more...]

El Moore speaks of re-opening day

Age does have its merits. I have been a witness to more than a century of Detroit growth, although, I concede, from a rather limited vantage point. As a very old building, mobility is not something I do well. But as I believe I have pointed out before, during my grander days (why does grander always seem to mean younger?) before I was forced to shutter my doors and make do with the pigeons for company, I relied on my tenants to bring me news of the outside world. It was through them that I learned of all that was happening elsewhere in Detroit beyond the Cass Corridor, and even beyond Detroit and outside of Michigan. The people who have taken up residence here over the years have arrived traveling a very broad path of life experiences, and that always contributed what I considered a … [Read more...]

Walk with us, part 3: the lay of the land

This is the third in a four-part series co-authored by Kimberly Williamson and Matthew Piper exploring walkability and the El Moore. So far in our series, we've looked at how walkable life will be for residents of the El Moore and explored the myriad benefits of walkable neighborhoods, from the individual to the social to the environmental. This time, we're considering walkability in the Motor City more generally, a subject that, as you might expect, provides plenty of opportunity for frustration and discouragement -- but also for hope. Last month, Model D reported that Detroit's "walk score," a leading metric of cities' walkability, had risen 2.2 points since 2011, to 52.2, making it the 18th most walkable big city in the country. That's … [Read more...]

“That Old White House on the Corner”

The El Moore, built in 1898, was designed by prolific local architect A.C. Varney. In his first post for the El Moore blog, Detroit architecture & history enthusiast Jonathan Peters takes a look at another of Varney's buildings in the neighborhood, "that old white house on the corner," located just one block east of the El Moore.  The Queen Anne-style house at the southwest corner of Cass Avenue and West Alexandrine has a long, fascinating past that is integral not only the neighborhood it inhabits, but to the City of Detroit as a whole. 3975 Cass (originally 709 Cass) was built for Robert H. Brown, a tobacco magnate, along with his wife Jennie, at a time when the street was lined with elaborate homes and flats for the well-to-do. The designer, Almon Clother Varney, was one … [Read more...]

Walking Around the El Moore: The Detroit Public Library Turns 150

The venerable Detroit Public Library (DPL) celebrates its 150-year anniversary this year; it was founded in 1865 in a single room of the old Capitol High School which was located at State and Griswold Streets downtown. When it opened, the DPL had a total collection of 5,000 printed and bound books. The Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library, which is celebrating its own 100-year anniversary in 2015, is one of the finest research collections in the world. Many of us in the El Moore Writing Group did a great deal of our research at the Burton. The main branch of the library, located in the Midtown/Cultural Center area, is very close to the El Moore: just a short bike ride or leisurely walk away. The DPL, one of Detroit’s historic “Jewels”, has kept up with the … [Read more...]

Construction Update – Week of May 11, 2015

We're heading towards completion, but things never move as fast as we'd like. We have our eye on June 1st, however, the date our first tenants are due to move in, and so completing detail work is becoming vitally important. As soon as painting is completed, we can add things like window shades, refrigerators and hallway carpets. Systems (i.e. the fire alarm system or the elevator) are currently undergoing inspection. Any outstanding issues are being noted and addressed quickly.  Here are a few shots I took during a brief visit on Monday. … [Read more...]

Jonathan Chambers moves into the El Moore – in 1898

With our new residents getting ready to move into the El Moore on June 1, we were imagining what it was like when the first residents moved into the newly built El Moore in 1898.  And here's the story that emerged.     Jonathan Chambers was determined to be in a good mood, despite it all. "Detroit is a city on the rise like none other!" his father had told him several years ago, which was surprising considering the fact that his father, Jonathan Chambers Sr., was a well-respected businessman in New York City. It wasn't a common occurrence for anyone from New York City to be expressing positive remarks about anywhere that wasn't New York City. And yet his father had been insistent. So much so that upon his graduation from Harvard Business School, rather than being … [Read more...]

When I say “urban cabin…”

  When I say the word "cabin" -- what do you think of? Are you remembering a specific place? Or are you imagining an ideal place? A dream of a cabin? I'd love to know about it. For now, let's say you were a child -- did you doze off in the backseat on the long trip up north? Did your parents unload the station wagon while you helped your aunt set up the grill? Did you make up your bed with grandma’s blankets pulled out of the cedar chest while your folks laughed together out back? Were all the details there already waiting for you -- tried, tested, and true? Simple systems all sussed out before 1972. The picnic basket was there, the grill was here, and the umbrellas were always beneath the cabinet, with the sunblock and the bug spray. And weren't there fishing poles, board games … [Read more...]