A farewell to Dan Commer, El Moore resident

Dan Commer, one of the original residents of the El Moore, will be moving soon, and we will miss him. He has an opportunity to pursue a Master's degree in Urban Planning at U of M, and will be moving to Ann Arbor this summer. Last week I had a chance to sit down with Dan to talk over his experience living at the El Moore. A few years ago, Dan had been living quite contentedly in Lafayette Park, working on his undergraduate degree in Urban Planning at Wayne State. Most of the time he was commuting to his classes by bike. Dan volunteered on Saturdays with Earthworks, and one day another volunteer mentioned that Dan might be interested in the work at the Green Garage. He stopped by for one of our Friday lunches, and attended a few more before hearing from Jason Peet about an apartment … [Read more...]

Blooming landscape

Spring has finally sprung, and the young landscape at the El Moore has started blooming. At the front of the building, we have 2 dogwoods in full bloom and an adjacent garden with rose and peony bushes. Here is a close-up of the dogwoods in front. Below you'll see a shot of one of two buckeyes on the property. They may be small now, but when fully grown, they should get to about 60 ft. Here's another dogwood by the greenhouse. Finally, here's another sure sign of spring.... … [Read more...]

El Moore Gardens Update

As you can see, we're making progress on the El Moore gardens area. Raised garden beds, made from reclaimed curb material from upstate New York, are now home to trees (maple and honey locust) and shrubs (like the bottlebrush buckeye and the Carolina allspice). Juan Angeles and his team made this beautiful stage of brick with a flagstone base. On either side of the stage, pergolas have been built, which will cover seating areas. The old Dalgleish Cadillac water tank is in place and will serve as an entranceway to the park. Final work is being done on the gates that will be placed in the entryways to the tank. More detail on these gates and our new entrance gates will be in the next post.   … [Read more...]

Video Oral Histories of the Green Garage

Last month, Liz Riedman, and Anthropology Masters student at Wayne State University, interviewed 3 of the original founders of the Green Garage, Helen Bradley and Don and Mitzi Carter. The interviews were recorded and are below for you to listen to. They are brief, each not more than 5 minutes, but they do give a sense of the original thought behind the Green Garage project. Hope you enjoy them! And thanks, Liz, for helping us embark on our oral history journey.   … [Read more...]

Using reclaimed materials at the new retail building – Part 2

Stepping inside the new retail building, the floors are the first thing that you might notice. The wood for the floors comes from 2 deconstructed barns, one from Livingston County, built in 1882, and one from Lapeer County, built in 1914. The wood lives on in our beautiful floors. Looking straight ahead upon entering, you'll notice a staircase made from thin slats of wood. The wood you are seeing is actually leftover material from building the rooftop cabins. The wood is lath that originally was behind the drywall when the El Moore was built. The staircase framing came from a deconstructed house in Detroit. For the stair treads, window trim and baseboards, we were fortunate to find 90% of the wood from 2 deconstructed barns, one from Dundee, built in the 1880's, and one from … [Read more...]

Using reclaimed materials at the new retail building – Part 1

If you have walked by the corner of Alexandrine and Second in the last year you have observed a large construction fence, and behind it piles of materials that have slowly contributed to the formation of a 2-story retail building and the 'hardscape,' or permanent planting bed foundations, for the gardens. The building, garden beds, fence, columns and entrance tank have all come from reclaimed items, some sourced locally, and some from as far away as New York. Below you'll see photos of some of the features of this new space, all developed from these reclaimed materials. This post focuses primarily on exterior features created from the reclaimed materials. In the next post, I'll describe some interior features.   Let's start with the scratch brick that comprises most of … [Read more...]

Read about us in Preservation Magazine

We love Preservation Magazine, and were fortunate enough to be profiled in this year's winter edition.  Courtney Balestier, the article's author, spent quite a bit of time interviewing various people associated with the El Moore and the piece was beautifully written, reflecting the building and its occupants well. It also includes the best (in my opinion) photo of the front of the building that has been taken. Take a look! Thanks, Courtney! Detroit's El Moore Building Gets An Eco-Friendly Rehab … [Read more...]

Construction update on the El Moore Gardens

We're into the new year, and it's about time for an update on the progress of the area adjacent to the El Moore which we are calling the El Moore Gardens. The Gardens project consists of 2 parts: an actual garden area with trees, shrubs, lawn, walkways and benches; and a 2-story building which will eventually house retail and food-service businesses. Most of the greenery has either been planted or kept safely for the winter. The building is nearing completion. Here are some photos so you can see the progress.           … [Read more...]

The Dalgleish Cadillac Water Tower Finds a New Home at the El Moore

The El Moore building, built in 1898, has seen its share of economic ups and downs in Detroit over the years. The Great Recession, which officially lasted from December 2007 through July 2009, was the worst economic time for the United States since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The U.S. auto industry and the City of Detroit were particularly hard hit by both the 2007/2008 mortgage crisis and the near-demise of two of the “Big Three” U.S. car companies in 2008/2009. General Motors Corporation (GM) was the largest recipient of the government restructuring package, and the company was forced to close many dealerships, including Dalgleish Cadillac in Detroit, GM's first Detroit Cadillac dealership, and also its last Detroit Cadillac dealership. Dalgliesh Cadillac closed its doors on … [Read more...]

Walking Around the El Moore: The Children’s Center

The Midtown neighborhood where the El Moore is located is a wonderful mix of residential units, cultural venues, business and retail establishments, entertainment stages, religious institutions, and social services agencies. Just one block from the El Moore is The Children’s Center, a specialized clinical services facility with a staff that works with children who have behavioral, emotional, educational, intellectual, and developmental challenges, as well as those who have experienced trauma. The mission of The Children’s Center, as stated on its website, is “To help children and families shape their own futures.” As we all know by now, the Midtown/Cass Corridor area has a very long and rich history and the same can be said for The Children’s Center. It was founded in 1929 by then United … [Read more...]

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