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A book telling the stories of the rise and fall of 10-12 forgotten Detroit landmarks that live on in only memories and old photos

Detroit is a city full of stories.

Nearly seven years ago, I set out to give a voice to the silent structures and majestic landmarks that made Detroit one of the greatest cities on the planet. I believe that a building is made of more than just brick and mortar. These places also are made of stories. And each played a role in shaping Detroit's story - our story.

And that is a story that deserves to be told.

I started telling these tales on BuildingsofDetroit.com, then wrote my first book, "Lost Detroit," and now I share them on HistoricDetroit.org. In "Lost Detroit" (History Press, 2010), I shared the tales behind 12 of Motown's infamous abandoned skyscrapers, taking readers behind the boarded-up windows and dusting off the memories of those who remember a different Detroit. The idea was to show that these places were more than just ruins and deserved more than to be labeled simply as "ruin porn." Each of these places had a story worth remembering - a past worth honoring.

This time around, I want to focus on 10-12 buildings that are part of a Detroit most people have never seen. They live on in only the memories of a fading few and in old black-and-white photographs. These landmarks are part of a truly "lost Detroit," beautiful landmarks destroyed either in the name of progress or because of shortsightedness.

Though these buildings may be lost to us, the history and stories that unfolded within their walls can still be preserved.

Many readers have no idea Detroit's Old City Hall even existed and are floored to learn that the city flattened such a beautiful, important piece of its history. Jaws drop over photos of the palatial old post office, a heck of a place to buy a stamp. Other buildings may include the hotel where Houdini was staying when he died in Detroit on Halloween 1926; incredible movie palaces where even common Detroiters felt like a star; the original Hotel Pontchartrain; and the city's first skyscraper, where Detroiters forked over a hard-earned dime to take to the skies - a soaring 10 stories up.

Detroit's old post office

Sharing these stories is a passion of mine. I ask you to check out my work at www.historicdetroit.org. I am dedicated to getting the facts right and learning my readers a thing or two - without boring them to tears in the process.

Every Detroiter also should know what this city has lost, lest we allow even more of our history to follow these landmarks to the architectural landfill. 

Here's where you come in: I cannot tell these stories without sharing old photos of these amazing structures - and the rights to reprint these photos is expensive. I'm hoping to have 100 photos in this book. Each photo costs $50 to $135 to print in a book. That puts the cost of doing the book from $5,000 to $6,000.

I'm hoping that lovers of Detroit's history and its architecture will help me raise half of that cost; I cannot afford to do this project justice without you.

FAQ

  • I can't promise you'll get the exact building you want, but when we request your address to send your reward, we'll ask you what your preference is. If you want cards featuring Belle Isle, for example, no problem. If you want cards of Hudson's, we'll try our best to get you cards with Hudson's at least IN the picture, but Hudson's cards are pretty rare and in demand. You are making me very happy; I'm going to try my best to ensure you're happy, too. When we send out the e-mail asking you for your preference and your address, be sure not to dawdle on replying. I have only so many Michigan Central Station postcards to go around, and I'm filling them first come, first served.
    Also note that many of these postcards have never been mailed. In an era before the handheld camera, many travelers bought postcards as keepsakes of their trips to Detroit. If you would rather have postmarked postcards, with the postmark showing 1909 or 1918 or whatever, let us know that, too.

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  • We're shooting for December, but I'm not going to rush this. Shouldn't be too much later and we really are trying to get it done in time for the holidays.

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  • You betcha. I wasn't expecting the overwhelming support this project has received, and the rewards have been e-flying off the e-shelves almost as fast as I can put them up. I've been combing through the archives here at HistoricDetroit HQ, looking for new rewards I can bring myself to part with. I'll continue to add rewards for as long as the Kickstarter runs. There's no shortage of signed books and postcards, but the rare Detroit memorabilia tends to disappear within hours of me putting it up.

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  • There are two varities. Here are photos of both. Note the stamp on the back that says MCRR Depot Detroit with the year:

    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8002/7367254074_bbd22198b5_b.jpg
    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5034/7182028895_a6839b440d_b.jpg

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  • Maybe. Feel free to ask, but the roster of 10 buildings is pretty much set. If there's extra room in my photo- and word-count limits set by the publisher, I might do a quick-hit-style chapter at the back of the book. Unfortunately, some buildings - such as Hudson's, Olympia and Tiger Stadium - have histories so exhaustive, they deserve entire books of their own.

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  • If you'd rather have two postcards and one train ticket, or two train tickets and one postcard, that's fine. Ditto on the books that come with three train tickets. Just let us know which combination of postcards and train tickets you want when we send you a confirmation after the Kickstarter on your reward.

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    The Woo-Hoo Choo-Choo: An authentic ticket stub used at the infamous Michigan Central Station in Detroit. They vary in age from 1915-1940 and are to such exotic destinations as Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York. Stamped on the back with the date and almost all of them say, "MCRR Depot Detroit." Guaranteed to be the real deal straight from the depot itself. Plus, you'll be holding the ticket that whisked some stranger away to a far off land 80-some years ago. Kinda creepy when you think about it.

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    Can't Beat the Almost Real Thing: A reproduction of a luggage tag from the Book-Cadillac Hotel. They look like this: http://historicdetroit.org/workspace/images/bookcaddylabel.jpg

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    Don't Tell Mitt! Get a 1974 Detroit dog license key fob. We'll throw in an antique-looking key for looks. Comes in a doghouse design. Give Fido that retro Detroit hipster look for when you take him to the dog park. They look like this: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7245/7177289845_64e49954d2_z.jpg

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    Stogie Not Included: An original matchbook from the Book-Cadillac Hotel. It's stamped Sept. 4, 1951. The matches have all been removed. Neato little keepsake from a different era in the Book-Caddy's storied history.

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    Come On, Baby, Light My Kickstarter: An original matchbook from the Hotel Tuller, one of the buildings featured in the book. It's stamped inside Aug. 19, 1955. All of the matches have been removed, but it's still a neato Mid-Century Modern design of a classic Detroit hotel that closed in 1976 and was demolished in 1991. Hear that "Mad Men" fans? I said Mid-Century Mo.

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    Greetings From Detroit: Get an authentic, vintage Detroit postcard from 1900-1930.

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    Wowee, Kwamee: Get a copy of "The Kwame Sutra" signed by M.L. Elrick and Jim Schaefer, the two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists who brought down the corrupt Detroit mayor. Relive Detroit's black eye one punch line at a time!

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    Donor Pie, Honey Bunch: An ORIGINAL, unused piece of Motown stationary from its HQ on Woodward Avenue. Features the Motown and Tamla logos.

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    Thank You (Falettinme Put Out a Book Agin)! An original ticket to Sly & the Family Stone at the Michigan Palace (originally the Michigan Theatre - now used as a parking garage) from Nov. 14, 1974. It's unused (in tact and not torn). Funk music not included.

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    Wear Out the Jams! One new black Grande Ballroom T-shirt (sorry, only available in size Large). It looks a'like this: http://dearbornmusic.com/store/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/5e06319eda06f020e43594a9c230972d/g/r/grandeballroomimage.jpg

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    21 backers Limited (4 left of 25)

    Getting Carded: Get THREE authentic, vintage Detroit postcards from 1900-1930. See how others saw the Motor City in an era before cars ruled the road. Laugh at the stories Aunt Gertrude sent her niece Geraldine about her trip to Detroit in 1920. Cry over little Sigmund losing his battle with typhoid fever.

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    The No-tell Hotel: A key fob from Room 584 at the Tuller Hotel. Sorry, no key, but you could always throw it on YOUR keychain and wow the Detroit-history-diggin' ladies. The fob is in excellent shape, though, and is stamped "TULLER HOTEL." The hotel closed in 1976 and was demolished in 1991. Maybe it was the key to the "honeymoon suite," if you catch my drift.

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    STICKERS! A luggage tag from the Book-Cadillac Hotel. These would be slapped on your steamer trunk or what have you. I can't attest to their stickiness after all these decades, but if you want to try to put one on your Trapper Keeper, I won't stop you. They look like this: http://historicdetroit.org/workspace/images/bookcaddylabel.jpg

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    The Un-Empty Nester: A $10 gift certificate to City Bird or Nest in Midtown Detroit, generously donated by owners Andy and Emily Linn. You can spend your gift certificate at EITHER store. And honestly, who doesn't like options?

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    Detroit Before Detroit Was Cool: Get a reproduction historic map of Detroit from 1915. It's 15" by 22". Generously donated by City Bird. (Retail price $20). You can see one here: http://www.etsy.com/listing/93297730/detroit-antique-map-silkscreen-print

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    If the Reward's a Rockin' ... An actual room key and key fob from the Fort Shelby Hotel - before it was renovated. The fob is black plastic and reads "Pick-Fort Shelby Hotel." The key is stamped Room 466. The building closed in 1974, and this key was used up until that time. Your chance for an authentic, dusty 'n' slightly rusty piece of Detroit history.

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    Mama Mia, Indeed! A $25 gift certificate to Supino Pizzeria in Detroit's Eastern Market, generously donated by owner Dave Mancini. As an added bonus, you'll also get your name in the "Special Thanks" section of the book.

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    Top of the Pontch: An original room key and fob to Room 1534 of the Hotel Pontchartrain (known today as the Detroit Riverside Hotel). Dates to the late '60s or early '70s. Features the neato little squiggle logo thinger. Would look great dangling from the ignition of your '76 Chevy Caprice road beast. We'll also include your name in the "Special Thanks" section of the book. It looks like this: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7216/7362514024_b685b44764_z.jpg

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    You're a Saint!: An original key and fob from the St. Regis in New Center. Fob features the hotel logo in high relief. Dates from the late 1960s. We'll also include your name in the "Special Thanks" section of the book.

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    Now That's Room Service: An actual room key and key fob from the Hotel Tuller. The fob is leather and reads "TULLER HOTEL Detroit, Mich." The building closed in 1976 and was demolished in 1991. Get a real Detroit artifact - without having to do all that messy anthropological digging stuff. They look like this: http://historicdetroit.org/workspace/images/400tuller.jpg?1339123159771

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    Park Your Wallet Here: You know what would make your keychain look even foxier? An actual room key and key fob from the Park Shelton circa 1950. If you live there now, get a feel for what it was like to live there 70 years ago! The room number is on the reverse. We'll also include your name in the "Special Thanks" section of the book. They look like this: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8020/7362877742_982664e2fb_z.jpg

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    You Get What You Paid For: Get a signed copy of the book (expected retail price $25). You'll also get your name in the "Special Thanks" section of the book, cuz hey, you've earned it.

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    7 backers Limited (18 left of 25)

    An Oldie But a Decent-y: Get a signed copy of the author's first book, "Lost Detroit: Stories Behind the Motor City's Majestic Ruins" (retail price: $25). PLUS we'll throw in three vintage Detroit postcards. AND you'll also get your name in the "Special Thanks" section of the book. I mean, if you're gonna be generous, we better return the favor.

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    12 backers Limited (13 left of 25)

    The Bookscore: Get a signed copy of the book (expected retail price $25) PLUS three vintage Detroit postcards. You'll also get your name in the "Special Thanks" section of the book, cuz I couldn't do it without you dudes. Cue the violins!

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    Another Brick From a Wall: A guaranteed authentic brick from the demolished Lafayette Building (http://www.historicdetroit.org/building/lafayette-building). Plucked from the demolition battlefield by the author himself. Not like you can get one of these just anywhere anymore. Will come with a certificate of authenticity if you want one. You'll also get your name in the "Special Thanks" section of the book. Brick-from-demolished-building collections are the new Pokemon. Trust me on this.

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    17 backers Limited (8 left of 25)

    The Detroit Home Library Starter Kit™. Get a signed copy of the book AND a copy of the author's first book, "Lost Detroit: Stories Behind the Motor City's Majestic Ruins" (a $50 value). And what the hey, we'll throw in three vintage Detroit postcards. You'll also get your name in the "Special Thanks" section of the book.

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    The Big Store Big Enchilada: Here's a hard-to-find collectible from Hudson's Big Store. In an era before Visa and plastic, customers at Hudson's downtown store could apply for lines of credit, and they were issued these little key fobs - the forerunner of a credit card. The front says, "Finder please return to the J.L. Hudson Co. Detroit." The back has the JLH monogram with the customer's "credit card number." The shopper would simply hand the cashier his or her keys and BAMMO! Economic stimulus. Note: Line of credit not included. We'll also include your name in the "Special Thanks" section of the book and throw in a vintage Hudson's postcard, so you could frame the two of them together if you'd like. Actually, that's not a bad idea. Why didn't I think of that? Front of the fob: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7074/7362513814_c25fe0d17f_z.jpg The backside: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7242/7362513900_2207ebe907_z.jpg

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    Hob Knob: An original door knob from the Book-Cadillac Hotel. This is the real McDoorknob, folks. Features the hotel's crest and the original patina. You could bring a little touch of Book-Caddy splendor to your humble abode with this bad boy. It looks like this: http://historicdetroit.org/workspace/images/knobs.jpg

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    Donate the Big One: A guaranteed authentic brick from the demolished Hudson's Department Store (http://historicdetroit.org/building/hudsons-department-store). This is one of the insanely rare WHITE GLAZED bricks that was in the delivery area. As far as I know, they were not offered to the public. Will come with a certificate of authenticity that is verified by the Walbridge-Aldinger employee who pulled the brick from the building. You'll also get your name in the "Special Thanks" section of the book.

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    1 backer Limited (4 left of 5)

    Walking Legends: Get a copy of the book and "Lost Detroit" plus a three-hour walking tour around downtown Detroit with the author. We'll stop in the Guardian, Book-Cadillac, Fort Shelby, Penobscot and other fine places. You'll also get your name in the "Special Thanks" section of the book.

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Funding period

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