all who wander are not lost

From the online Detroit News:


The University Club was founded in 1899 in Swan’s Chop House at the northwest corner of Woodward and Larned. George P. Codd, a University of Michigan baseball pitcher, congressman and mayor, was the first president. After one year at Swan’s, they moved to the old Walker block for nine years, then to the Walker residence at Fort and Shelby until 1913. The club then moved to the McMillan mansion at Jefferson and Russell, the former home of U.S. Senator James McMillan, which had been built during the 1870’s. During this period, ladies were only allowed in on New Year’s Eve.

The members built their final home in 1931 on the same site on East Jefferson. It included squash and racquetball courts, leaded glass, antlered trophy heads, and the dining room: a two story great hall. There were 20 bedrooms on the third floor for permanent occupants and 4 for visitors. The main entrance was on Russell, but the ladies’ entrance was through a ‘delightful garden’ on Jefferson.

Members had to have graduated from a University or other establishment of higher learning although in 1985, in an effort to attract new members, the club was opened to those who had completed two years of college. Early members included Dexter Ferry and Albert Russell, and the club was the location for many blue-blood bachelor parties and society wedding receptions.

Residents of the guest rooms in 1962 included two brokers, a manufacturer, several business executives, a group of lawyers and a Chrysler Personnel chief. The first woman, Susan Reck, a stockbroker, was admitted in 1978.

The University Club went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1992.

Definitely check out Ren Farleys write up on the University Club:

This club had sufficient funds in the late 1920s to raze the attractive mansion of Senator McMillan and commission the distinguished architect, William E. Kapp, of the Smith, Hinchman and Grylls firm, to design their club building. Since this was the University Club, Kapp designed the building in the Collegiate Gothic style. He even insisted that the color of the bricks matched the bricks used for many of the building of Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.

You will see that the devastation which has befallen University Club has come in just over one calender year. Ren’s photo from spring of 2008 shows a “for sale” sign, and a secure building.

The basement looks gutted by scrappers, and they are already making trips up to the roof for copper flashing. The leaded windows are melting away, and without attention will simply slough off the frame.

And here we end with the Racquet courts.

5 Responses to Inside University Club

  • This building was also operated as the Downtown YWCA for a while after the University Cliub left it, right? I remember them moving there after their building was torn down for the building of Comerica Park. I guess they couldn’t afford to keep it up.

    Its current condition is a real shame. Such a beautiful building. In answer to the first poster: “A place like that cannot be left to rot can it?’ Oh yes, in Detroit it can. Things that would be very valuable anywhere else, or a mere 8 miles to the north, are left to die in Detroit because we live in a place that’s apparently such anethema to the world around it that they’d prefer we rotted or starved into oblivion, taking all of our history with us.

  • This site always puts me in a “Detroit Funk”

  • I dont know the exact status of the building, but it has been left unattended and has been completely open for some time. People have been living in it. Scrapping is started but not finished. I consider it to abandoned, but still savable at this time if somebody has authority and finances to seal it.

    Yeah, thats a real book collection, and I did see things that shouldnt be left for theft or arson. Several good pianos too. I hope they dont eventually end up on SNWEBs “abandoned piano” reel. lol…(he had a video of himself playing various piano carcasses in multiple abandoned locations a few years back….inside joke I guess, but it seems there are pianos in every abandoned building…)

    But if nobody connected to the building cares about it, there is no way it can be protected. This is an example – along with Brodhead Armory, of buildings that should not be left to die and are still savable.

  • Did you see any interesting books on the shelves? I can’t believe some of the stuff left behind.

  • So is this place abandoned or semi abandoned or what? A place like that cannot be left to rot can it?

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