Once the gem of Detroit, it sat empty for decades not knowing if it would have a chance at life again. The one place where the rich and famous came to stay in Detroit is now once again open.
The Westin-Book Cadillac Hotel on Washington Blvd. and Michigan Ave. has been the gem of the hotels in Detroit since it was built. It’s an odd shaped building, but recognizable nonetheless.
It was built in 1924 by Louis Kamper, the same person who designed the Broderick Tower. It’s in Neo-Renaissance style architecture. When it was finished, it was the tallest hotel in the world. A few of the country’s President’s stayed at the hotel that was at the site, before it was razed for the Book-Cadillac.
The Cadillac Hotel was a smaller version of the Book-Cadillac and the following President’s stayed at the hotel before it was razed. President’s Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft have all stayed at the Cadillac.
Some of the most notable guests of the Book-Cadillac include many famous celebrities. Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and President’s Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Harry S. Truman, Ronald Reagan and Herbert Hoover all had rooms at the hotel.
Two of the most famous to stay at the hotel have some stories too. In 1939, the hotel was the team hotel for many of Major League Baseball’s teams. The New York Yankees stayed there in 1939, and it was on the grand staircase of the hotel that Yankee great, Lou Gehrig collapsed, and later that night, his consecutive games played streak ended. He was later diagnosed with ALS.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also stayed at the hotel. In fact, he gave his I Have A Dream speech in Detroit, or what is to believed a precursor to his speech in Detroit.
It was renamed the Sheraton-Cadillac in 1951 after the company purchased it. Radisson took over in the 1980s after the riots as Sheraton wanted out. In 1984, the hotel closed for good. It was a sad day.
In 2006, work began on renovations to bring it back to glory. The building looked pretty gone to begin with so it was with some false hope that this was going to get done, but it did.
It now has a hotel and condominiums for rent. The hotel is now an anchor for the Detroit renaissance and revival.
For more on the hotel, check out HistoricDetroit.org’s page.