Discuss Detroit Archives - January 2008 Vanity Ballroom Previous Next
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Irish_mafia
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Username: Irish_mafia

Post Number: 1224
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - 2:01 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

For all who drive past this each day and might like a peak inside...

http://detroitblog.org/
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Detroitnerd
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Username: Detroitnerd

Post Number: 2023
Registered: 07-2004
Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - 2:02 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

They used to have shows there around 1988 or so.
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Gistok
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Username: Gistok

Post Number: 6450
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - 2:20 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks Irish_mafia! Great pics. It's in better shape inside than I would have thought.

It shows in great detail the "Pueblo Deco" style of the 1920's. Detroit's 3 greatest Pueblo Deco buildings were the Guardian Building, Old Fisher Theatre (destroyed for a new theatre in 1961), and the Vanity Ballroom.

I'm glad to see that the Vanity Ballroom is being well secured from scalpers. I hope that this gem can one day be resurrected.

Although that stretch of Jefferson where the Vanity Ballroom is located (between Dickerson & the Grosse Pte. Park border) is still a rough area, at least the "up to the sidewalk" commercial building stock along that stretch is still mostly intact.
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Aiw
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Username: Aiw

Post Number: 6578
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - 2:30 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

You're right Gistok. Being that close the Pointes definitely pulls the area down a tad.
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Malcovemagnesia
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Username: Malcovemagnesia

Post Number: 66
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2008 - 6:44 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Looks like DetroitBlogger John scored an interview with the current owner of the Vanity Ballroom; could this be the first time he's ever gotten permission to get inside an abandoned building?

(I'm glad scrappers haven't yet destroyed the place)
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Sumas
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Username: Sumas

Post Number: 72
Registered: 01-2008
Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2008 - 7:07 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Aiw, thanks for the giggle. On a serious note however JEBA, Jefferson East Business Association deserves a lot of credit for trying to bring back some vitality to the Jefferson corridor.
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Jasoncw
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Username: Jasoncw

Post Number: 494
Registered: 07-2005
Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2008 - 8:01 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

It had never occurred to me that it would be so ornate inside. Thanks for posting!
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Mallory
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Username: Mallory

Post Number: 240
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2008 - 8:44 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

^^^ITA! What an incredible place, and doesn't look that bad inside. Oh the possibilities. Yet another venue that is ripe for renovation.
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Aluminum
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Username: Aluminum

Post Number: 16
Registered: 01-2008
Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2008 - 8:54 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have driven past it many times. The movies Dreamgirls and 8 Mile have shots of the exterior in them. It is nice to see what's inside and that the owner has been somewhat successful keeping scrappers out.
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Gistok
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Username: Gistok

Post Number: 6464
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2008 - 9:26 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Interestingly enough, the movie palace architects of the 1920's received a lot of commissions to design ballrooms. Hence the Vanity Ballroom was designed by Charles Agree, who also designed Detroit's largest neighborhood theatre, the late Hollywood Theatre (3,434 seats, razed 1963) on West Fort & Ferdinand.

Rapp & Rapp, the Chicago architectural firm that designed nearly 100 theatres with the "royal French" treatment (such as the Michigan), designed a wonderful ballroom in Chicago known as "The Trianon", also done up in a French style. Sadly, it too is gone.

However, one other Chicago ballroom still survives... the huge Aragon Ballroom, which was designed by John Eberson, the movie palace architect who brought the "Atmospheric" style of theatres to America. He designed the Aragon Ballroom in an atmospheric style similar to his theatres. With a capacity of nearly 6,000, it is one of the largest historic ballrooms in the country:

http://chicago.urban-history.o rg/sites/ballroom/aragon.htm

With the demise of the Graystone and (eventually) Grande Ballrooms, it would be nice to have the Vanity Ballroom survive as a glorious example of a rare early 20th century opulent venue... the American Ballroom.

Of all the old buildings along East Jefferson, the Players Club, Broadhead Naval Armory and the Vanity Ballroom have to top the list of Detroit venues of the early 20th century that are worth preserving.

With the renaissance of ballroom dancing as a popular form of entertainment (at least on TV), perhaps there may yet become a use for the glorious Vanity Ballroom.
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Crew
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Username: Crew

Post Number: 1407
Registered: 02-2004
Posted on Friday, March 14, 2008 - 9:48 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

My "much" older sister has a large colorized print of The Vanity Ballroom in her family room in Dallas. I know she has fond memories of the place from the early 1970's so I sent her a link to detroitblog. I though she would be interested in seeing some recent pictures of the inside. Her is her response.


"Thanks - that was interesting - "opened on weekends in the 60s" Now wait a minute - I used to go there on weekends - and I'll bet it was the 70s.....
Iggy Stooge recorded an album there - and Arrowsmith...can't remember who else I saw....??? My memory is a little hazy."
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Hamtragedy
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Username: Hamtragedy

Post Number: 114
Registered: 10-2007
Posted on Friday, March 14, 2008 - 1:29 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The point I got from this, and it should disgust everyone here, is the fact the owner is a complete TOOL. If it's a slam dunk, that fucker should have been working on it or sold it after 20 years. Sorry for the language but this is the problem with so many of these abandoned gems, and the pattern continues to repeat itself. While holding out for the highest bidder, the building continues to rot. Greedy bastards.
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Gistok
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Username: Gistok

Post Number: 6474
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Friday, March 14, 2008 - 1:44 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Sorry Hamtragedy, but I think you're way off base. Chuck Forbes owned several theatres for nearly a decade before he finally got enough resources to restore them. And Mike Ilitch is still in possession of 2 theatres that are rotting away. Even Michigan Opera Theatre had a theatre (Madison) that they let decay for 11 years before they finally were able to unload it without doing anything to it, and it's gone today.

Now I don't know the man who owns the Vanity, but how can you jump to such conclusions if no bank is going to give him a loan to fix up his property?

Now I'm not saying he's not greedy... but he's probably paying his property taxes on it, and hasn't made a nickel off of it, and may never reap anything. But he's doing his best to prevent scalpers from getting into it, so I will give him some credit.

What if someone like him had taken ownership (and not abandoned) of the Lee Plaza, and instead of letting it slowly be dismantled (like it is), he at least secured it, and protected it until the market in the area improved. Would you call that guy a fucker as well?

I just don't think you have enough information about this gentleman to start comparing him to Michael Higgins, and think you may be wrong on your analysis.
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Hamtragedy
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Username: Hamtragedy

Post Number: 115
Registered: 10-2007
Posted on Friday, March 14, 2008 - 1:59 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Duly noted. I was in there working a gig 20 years ago. It is truly a beautiful bldg. But to give the guy credit for securing the place is one thing. Not fixing the roof for 20 years and the resulting underlying damage is another. I'm sure the emotion in my tone is shared by many forumers, as essentially, it is another building left to rot while the owner holds out for a pay-day.

BTW, I have worked on a few homes in that area, and the concerned citizens have always found the owner to be somewhat of an obstacle. But that's all heresay.....

BTW 2, I used to drive by the Lee Plaza, Riviera, Great Lakes, and worked a short stint at the Norwest (they showed Prince' Purple Rain for two years). I've read Gistok's posts long before I began posting. Thanks for bringing the past to life. Now, if we could somehow preserve what's left for the future.
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Gistok
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Username: Gistok

Post Number: 6479
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Friday, March 14, 2008 - 2:08 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I agree with you on fixing up the roof... :-)
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Detroitfats
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Username: Detroitfats

Post Number: 31
Registered: 05-2007
Posted on Friday, March 14, 2008 - 3:54 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I played a show there in about '87 or '88. I remember it well because our drummer didn't show up and we had to play with a drum machine. First time I'd ever done that.
I recall being blown away by what we called the "Aztec Deco" design. Every doorway was a work of art. Some of the cool old furniture had survived--Chrome couches and beautiful floor lamps and even snazzy deco ashtrays. Even then the place was getting a bit run down, but it was still easy to see the glory of this ballroom.
One other cool thing. A few weeks later I mentioned to my parents that I had been in the Vanity Ballroom, and they were just tickled. They went there to drink and dance before they were married, and were delighted to find out that there was still activity in the old room.

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