Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2006 Vanity Ballroom Previous Next
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Mattric43
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Username: Mattric43

Post Number: 1
Registered: 03-2006
Posted From: 12.15.7.70
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 10:43 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I had a great uncle that I was told used to go here and dance. Unfortunately this is all I know of the place. I have seen the outside in person and also in pictures, but never seen the inside. Past or present. If anyone has any pics or information, please please share. Thanks guys.
-Matt-
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Jjaba
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Username: Jjaba

Post Number: 3341
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 67.160.138.107
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 10:55 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Matt, welcome to The Forum.

VANITY BALLROOM. 1024 NEWPORT AVE., DETROIT.
Charles N. Agree, Architect. Built: 1929.

An art deco beaudy, with influences from Aztec and Toltec native peoples. It was very active during the Depression and through the WW II eras.

Some of the bands playing here were Duke Ellington, Tommy Dorsey, and Benny Goodman. It was an Eastside icon in its day.

Imagine all of the stores open along both E. Jefferson and Newport. The ballroom with its spring floor was upstairs with the dancers looking out the windows. The snack bar was ledgendary.

jjaba.
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Pam
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Username: Pam

Post Number: 130
Registered: 11-2005
Posted From: 67.107.47.65
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 10:57 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I believe the Vanity hosted a few rock shows for a time in the early 80's. Never made it there but heard about it.
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Mattric43
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Username: Mattric43

Post Number: 2
Registered: 03-2006
Posted From: 12.15.7.70
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 11:02 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks jjaba for the warm welcome. That building just intrigues me because there is little about it. Do you know of where I can find picture of the inside, Both, in it's hayday and present?
-Matt-
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Jjaba
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Username: Jjaba

Post Number: 3344
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 67.160.138.107
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 11:06 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Matt, research it on this Forum. There's been previous discussion, big time. Thanks and welcome.

jjaba, Westsider.
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Detroitnerd
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Username: Detroitnerd

Post Number: 562
Registered: 07-2004
Posted From: 209.69.221.253
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 12:02 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I recall that the Vanity had some rock shows back around 86 or 87. A friend told me that the guy who was in charge of the place had a problem with some metering equipment on the boiler -- a part that could have been cheaply replaced. Instead, the guy bypassed it. That was fine until the boiler overheated. (My buddy told me it was "glowing cherry red," but I find that hard to believe.) So the boiler had to be shut down and the water had to be shut off. The guy was reduced to going to the bathroom in a tub of cat litter. ("What, you got a freakin' mountain lion in here?) Hearsay, but a funny story nonetheless. After a boiler goes, an already-small market for a building grows even smaller.

Although some rock promoters did give new life to old Detroit theaters (Majestic is a good example) many of them were ragtag types and borderline criminals who ran them into the ground. Calls to mind the sad decline of Graystone Hall on Michigan Avenue in the late 80s.
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Kathleen
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Username: Kathleen

Post Number: 1208
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 140.244.107.151
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 12:06 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Or Google it!! Here are a few links:

http://www.thegrandeballroom.c om/charlesagreebuildings.html

http://www.detroit1701.org/Van ityBallroom.htm

http://info.detnews.com/histor y/story/index.cfm?id=6&categor y=life
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Hornwrecker
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Username: Hornwrecker

Post Number: 938
Registered: 04-2005
Posted From: 63.41.40.6
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 1:14 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


wsu/vmc
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Mattric43
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Username: Mattric43

Post Number: 3
Registered: 03-2006
Posted From: 12.15.7.70
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 1:18 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thank you Kathleen the last link has a great picture of the inside ballroom when it was still alive. Nice Hornwrecker, I have never seen a pic of the sign. Does anyone know who currently owns the building?
-Matt-
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56packman
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Username: 56packman

Post Number: 115
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 129.9.163.106
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 2:57 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Detroitnerd: your statement "Although some rock promoters did give new life to old Detroit theaters (Majestic is a good example) many of them were ragtag types and borderline criminals who ran them into the ground" is so accurate, and true, and very well said. My opinion of all of this stems from the crooks who trashed the Michigan, and others. The kid (name witheld) who ran concerts in the Grand Circus in the early 80's--same thing. I think it's actually better that the concert promotion business is being conducted by bigger business (a sharp contrast to my feelings about big business killing all of the little guys in everything else) rather than the borderline criminals you so aptly ID'ed.
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Mattric43
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Username: Mattric43

Post Number: 5
Registered: 03-2006
Posted From: 12.15.7.70
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 3:07 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Does anyone know who currently owns the Vanity Ballroom?
-Matt-
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Detroitnerd
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Username: Detroitnerd

Post Number: 563
Registered: 07-2004
Posted From: 209.69.221.253
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 3:37 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks, 56packman. It kind of wounds my pride to admit how bad some of these promoters were. After all, if small operators hadn't been able to put on shows, where would I have hung out? I knew them and patronized their businesses, such as they were. But the do-it-yourself sensibility, while thrilling and liberating, can often end in destroy-it-yourself businesses. Too bad they have so often taken their toll on architectural prizes like the Vanity.

Matt: Usually the property database is up on the city Web site, but I can't find it today.
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Mattric43
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Username: Mattric43

Post Number: 6
Registered: 03-2006
Posted From: 12.15.7.70
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 3:51 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks Detroitnerd. Has anyone been in this place recently? Has it held up or decayed. Was it just the boiler?
-Matt-
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Detroitnerd
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Username: Detroitnerd

Post Number: 564
Registered: 07-2004
Posted From: 209.69.221.253
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 4:06 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Matt, I found the property database, but I couldn't find any property info for 1024 Newport. I know that, for a long time, the place was owned by city council hopeful Leroy Burgess. If you're really interested in learning more about the building, try to reach Chris Garland at the East Jefferson Business Association. There was a story in Metro Times a few months ago where he talked about the Vanity in detail.
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Jimg
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Username: Jimg

Post Number: 576
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 69.220.142.7
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 4:07 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Went to several jazz concerts/dances at the Vanity, early 1980s. "Stunning" describes the interior...felt like I was in the 1920s and that felt good. JC Heard's orch played at one event and the sound was great.
Detroit had at least 10 ballrooms back then...Graystone was the Crown Jewell.
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Mattric43
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Username: Mattric43

Post Number: 7
Registered: 03-2006
Posted From: 12.15.7.70
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 5:08 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I just spoke with Rosemary Burgess with Burgess Realty, They still own the building. They are currently taking bids on renovating it and plan on it definatly opening within the next year or two. Thanks guys and girls for all of your info.
-Matt-
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Kathleen
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Username: Kathleen

Post Number: 1209
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 140.244.107.151
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 5:18 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I think this is the Metro Times article that Detroitnerd mentioned...

http://www.metrotimes.com/edit orial/story.asp?id=8670
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Irish_mafia
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Username: Irish_mafia

Post Number: 417
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 68.248.5.189
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 7:32 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

So that article was over a year ago and it said that the Vanity would be fixed up by now...
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Barnesfoto
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Username: Barnesfoto

Post Number: 1795
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.2.148.50
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 7:57 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The article was in December 2005...The WCPO gives folks a window of time to fix the properties...But given the track record of Burgess Realty, I'd expect to see the Vanity on the WCPO Auction list late this year.
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Hornwrecker
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Username: Hornwrecker

Post Number: 942
Registered: 04-2005
Posted From: 63.41.8.251
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 10:42 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Someone mentioned the Graystone earlier, and happened to find an interior shot while looking for the Vanity sign one.

Graystone Ballroom interior
wsu/vmc
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Jimg
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Username: Jimg

Post Number: 577
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 205.188.116.137
Posted on Saturday, March 18, 2006 - 12:43 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Graystone could hold about 4,000 people...strictly segregated xcept Mondays when it was available for rent. Every nite was themed: Waltz nite, Foxtrot nite, Free dance lessons...7 nites a week. Was originally a Chinese restaurant or a ballroom, depending upon who you believe.
Also had the Graystone Gardens immediately adjacent to the ballroom, the "last word in outdoor ballroom construction" opened June 1928.
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Barnesfoto
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Username: Barnesfoto

Post Number: 1797
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.2.148.61
Posted on Saturday, March 18, 2006 - 1:47 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Wow. how nice of Berry Gordy to tear it down so that a McDonalds could be built there 20 years later.
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Jjaba
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Username: Jjaba

Post Number: 3358
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 67.160.138.107
Posted on Saturday, March 18, 2006 - 1:51 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Barry Gordy probably didn't like Benny Goodman, Cab Calloway, and Duke Ellington competing with his Motown sound. Totally wrong.

jjaba.
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Bertz
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Username: Bertz

Post Number: 536
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 68.61.15.89
Posted on Saturday, March 18, 2006 - 2:50 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

It still amazes me to this day of what a beautiful city Detroit used to be.
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Jjaba
Member
Username: Jjaba

Post Number: 3366
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 67.160.138.107
Posted on Saturday, March 18, 2006 - 8:38 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

90,000 vacant lots. 45,000 tax-roll abandoned parcels. Beaudy is in the eye of the beholder.
There is much still here, it just needs to be fixed up.

The Vanity is still relatively intact, but finding its economic viability might be a real challenge.
jjaba.
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East_detroit
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Username: East_detroit

Post Number: 545
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 69.212.169.194
Posted on Saturday, March 18, 2006 - 9:00 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The Graystone Hall I remember on Michigan in the 1980s didnt look like the picture above. It seemed more like an indoor basketball court turned into a concert venue. Black Flag played their last ever show there in 1986. Russ Gibb's kids filmed the whole thing... I wonder where those tapes are.

After that, when Gone came into town in 1987, the promoter forgot to do such things as advertise, and the Gone audience was exactly 7 people, including me.
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Jimg
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Username: Jimg

Post Number: 579
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 152.163.100.8
Posted on Saturday, March 18, 2006 - 11:29 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Think those are two different venues, East_detroit. Ballroom was at 4235 Woodward.
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Hornwrecker
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Username: Hornwrecker

Post Number: 944
Registered: 04-2005
Posted From: 63.41.8.194
Posted on Sunday, March 19, 2006 - 12:19 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

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Leob
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Username: Leob

Post Number: 33
Registered: 10-2005
Posted From: 24.192.32.249
Posted on Sunday, March 19, 2006 - 1:10 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The Vanity Ballroom (1929) was the "sister" ballroom to Russ Gibb's Grande Ballroom (1928).
Both Charles Agree designs.
www.thegrandeballroom.com
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Jimg
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Username: Jimg

Post Number: 580
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 205.188.116.137
Posted on Sunday, March 19, 2006 - 12:33 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Graystone ad

believe this is from 1935, Don Redman v. Casa Loma Orchestra. Redman was Music Director of McKinney's Cotton Pickers, cutting-edge Det big band, prior to forming his own ork in 1931. Casa Loma started in Det under the direction of Hank Biagini, violinist and former Ford used car salesman. Both McKinney's and Biagini were regs at the Graystone (and managed by Jean Goldkette's org)
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Hornwrecker
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Username: Hornwrecker

Post Number: 946
Registered: 04-2005
Posted From: 63.41.8.162
Posted on Sunday, March 19, 2006 - 1:13 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

An article about jazz at the Graystone Ballroom:

Stompin' at the Graystone

The photos on this site a quite small, so I enlarged a few shots, even though the quality isn't too great.

Graystone Ballroom

Graystone Ballroom

Graystone Ballroom
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Detroitnerd
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Username: Detroitnerd

Post Number: 565
Registered: 07-2004
Posted From: 209.69.221.253
Posted on Sunday, March 19, 2006 - 5:05 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yeah, Graystone Ballroom was totally different from Graystone Hall. Graystone Hall was at 7816 Michigan Ave. Now it has become a laundermat.
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Jimg
Member
Username: Jimg

Post Number: 581
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 205.188.116.137
Posted on Sunday, March 19, 2006 - 6:46 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

image

Graystone house organ...Fletcher Henderson was comin to town, better than Santy Claus...

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