The Maid’s Tale

Jonathan Chambers is a nice enough man, I suppose. Not as bad as some, not as good as others. He is fine. Doesn't raise his voice to me, or his hand.  Most importantly, his payments to me, such as they are, are given regularly. That is appreciated. Since my arrival here at the El Moore to begin my work for Mr. Chambers, I have spoken to some of the other help and not all are so fortunate. Quite frankly, I find it best not to concern myself with the decency of my employers so long as their lack of it does not interfere with my duties or causes other...issues. It is not for me to judge. That's God's work. I only do my work, looking forward to the end of the day when I sometimes am able to write a letter to my family. But that is not often. Most times I am so tired from the day's chores … [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...]

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...]

The El Moore prepares for guests

I'm told that it won't be long, but then I've been told a lot of things over the years. But this time, I have reason to believe what I'm being told is the truth. I mean, look at me. I'm more than 100 years old, which may be young in Europe but definitely qualifies for senior citizen status on this side of the pond. Which means that I should be showing quite a few cracks and breaks. I should be wheezing. In a foul mood. Tired.  Excused for saying totally inappropriate things at all the wrong times. And yet... Look at me. I'm all dressed up and nowhere to go, but then I've never been anywhere to begin with. Whatever is happening in the world out there, and whoever is making it happen, has always had to come to me in some form or fashion. Before I was forced to close my doors, I … [Read more...]

Silent Night: the El Moore reflects on its revival

I'm not quite sure why they chose me, but I'm glad they did. After all, I am hardly the only building in the neighborhood in need of some extra care and attention. There are quite a few of us who fall into that category, and over the past few decades those numbers have only grown. And that doesn't include those who have been reduced to rubble. I can still remember those early years just before the turn of the 19th century and for several decades afterward when I was considered something special - we all were - and the people who lived inside my rooms were special as well. There was always so much hustle and bustle. I miss those days quite a bit. Then again, perhaps 'special' is not the word I want to use. Because having a lot of money does not automatically define someone as special, … [Read more...]

The El Moore Speaks

                            Youth is overrated. Look, I’ve seen pictures of those younger buildings that have begun popping up around the neighborhood in recent years, causing so much head-turning commotion. The new Detroit is what I hear them saying. Frankly, I’m not impressed, and if I sound cranky it’s because I’ve earned it. I was built in Detroit circa 1898, I’m still here, and I’m still turning a few heads myself. Score one for old Detroit when things were… Well, wait a minute. Now that I think back on it, not everything was so great back then either. I mean, some of it was simply splendid, the kind of beautiful that only Detroit can be. And if you live here then you … [Read more...]