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.
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.
- (35 days)