not all those who wander are lost

Robert and Jennie Brown Queen Anne style funeral home, completed in 1891. Harry Houdini lay in state in this funeral home before being transported for burial. He died in Detroit on Halloween, 1926.

Hamilton Funeral Home Art Deco funerary chapel, c. 1930. Henry and Edsel Ford had services in this funeral chapel, along with countless other local politicians.

Let’s take a look in the chapel first. Pay no mind to the door off the hinge there, just unfinished scrapper work – you will be able to buy the doors on eBay in a few months, I am sure.

Everything from famous funerals going back to the 1930’s, to famous rock bands playing here from the 60’s through the 1980’s. (Iggy and the Stooges, MC5, Alice Cooper etc)

Leslie organ speaker cabinet.

What would a funeral home be without some spare organs laying about ?

One of my favorite parts of the building, the mural above the chapel door.

Back out to the lobby – still wonderful in spite of being scrapped really hard – the missing handrail on the stairs, and the vestibule entryway are now long gone.

A skeletal remnant of the vestibule foyer shows a genuine piece of U.S.A. Carnegie steel.

This is walking into the Brown Queen Anne house section.

Storm cellar doors.

Doors from the loading area to the chapel.

Prognosis for this wonderful piece of historical architecture ? Very grim. It is being eaten alive by a scrapper, inside out.

14 Responses to Hamilton Funeral Home

  • Wow, friends of mine lived there as sort of caretakers back in the 80’s, we had many a great night there partying and whatnot. There was also Hardcore gig held there once around ’83? when the Freezer Theater suddenly -but far from unexpectedly- closed.

  • dfunk-

    I did see your post on the Scovel church and found it too quite informative. If you ever get the chance to get some good photos of St. Paul’s where Henry & Clara Ford’s funeral was held, that’d make a good post!

    I’m stuck down in FL and won’t be able to get back up that way until sometime next year, dammit.

  • I did not crawl through any holes, I walked in the front door and talked with the caretakers. Alexandrine and Cass Avenue, midtown

  • Well a firehouse is a good theory – i can look at the Sanborn maps to see how the property was developed. I suspect that the Queen Anne ‘Brown’ house was built first, and later customized to become a funeral home. In the late 1800’s the Hursts would be horse drawn, hence the wagon doors in the garage area.

    However, right next to the funeral home on Alexandrine we have……a fire house ! Which makes me wonder.. Ill have to look into that.

  • Thanks Luke – have you seen the photos/video of Scovel Presbyterian Church ? This was where Henry and Clara were members, and where Edsel was baptized. When it burned down, one local news guy (now president of the Detroit City Council) remarked “This church is so old, nobody even knows the name of it anymore”….Well, old yes, but the rest is not so true.

  • As a Ford historian, it’s great to see inside of the place. I’m a regular reader of your blog and you never disappoint with your photos!

  • I believe that this structure was originally a firehouse before a funeral home. Check out the doorways on the larger structure on the left. Probably a horse-and-carriage type of firehouse originally. I’m sure you can confirm this Mr. dfunk.

  • It is amazing to contemplate that this building lies wide open for pillaging

  • Pardon my naivete but are the doors just open on the place or do you have to crawl in a window? There is a lot of furniture and other items in there, I cannot believe the owners would just leave it open. Where is it located in Detroit?

  • Yeah, once Booker T sees this post, he’ll make a midnight run from Memphis to grab ’em.

  • I’m surprised those two Hammonds and the Leslie are still there!

  • We need a Detroit historical building society to save and put to use these history rich old buildings… I can’t stand it!!!!

  • Yeah, it is owned by Art Centre Music School, and the property is managed, but to what degree I do not know. I thought the place was endangered when I first went inside back in 2005, and that was long before all the metal radiators, door hinges, lamp sconces, chandeliers, handrails and other parts of the building and contents vanished.

  • Any idea who owns this piece of property? Obviously it’s not secured properly…

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