Hanging out a shingle is a dream of any small business, and doing it in Detroit is especially thrilling. On the morning of the Marche du Nain Rouge, our bright blue "D" went up on the side of a historic house at 4470 Second Avenue in Midtown, and we won’t lie – we got a little verklempt
Inside, we had been quietly working for weeks to feather our new urban nest in a way we hoped would make our neighbors and future guests proud. Our goal was to source locally, buy reused whenever possible, and create a meeting space that harkened back to old-school publishing houses and literary salons of yesteryear. Thanks to help from a host of friends and merchants, we've done okay. (For a list of local sources, go here
The building of our humble new headquarters – nestled between The Bronx Bar
and the Green Garage
-- is one of those special Detroit spots with a rich history and myriad incarnations since its construction in 1885. If you hung out in the Cass Corridor in the 1990’s, you know it as the former home of Zoot’s Coffeehouse
, a legendary music venue, or Soul in the Hole, a beloved record store. If you’ve ever studied the vintage photographs at The Bronx, you might have noticed it was once Leong Hand Laundry. Or if you’ve rented an apartment from Renaissance Investment Company
, you’ll recognize it as the building on their logo.
Our friend Adriel Thornton, who once ran a clothing and music boutique in the basement called Space 19, remembers the building as a "checkpoint" for local artists and musicians. "It was amazing, ravers spilling outside on the sidewalk," he recalls -- even on Mondays, when Zoot’s hosted its ambient and experimental electronic music night.
Likewise, many members of our Model D family (several with past lives as rockers and deejays themselves) have been experiencing our move-in as a homecoming of sorts. "Wow, I remember seeing a show here" has been a frequent opener at recent meetings.
Hearing stories like these is the very best part of making a home in a historic building -- please keep ‘em coming. This is why we’re excited that Elias Khalil and Armando Delicato, authors of the new book, Detroit’s Cass Corridor
, are working on an exhibit to capture and share even more tales from the neighborhood. (Stay tuned for more details here.)
On a personal note, it has been a joy to open the doors and dust off the mantels of a building I have coveted for the better part of a decade. For this, I thank Scott Lowell and Paul Howard who saw the potential and committed the resources to give this beauty a new life. Their tireless work to improve not just this property, but several others in the area is truly inspiring. Hat tip to Susan Mosey and the team at Midtown Detroit, Inc.
We’re still getting settled, but we look forward to hosting meetings (and maybe the occasional happy hour) in between deadlines. In the meantime, if you pass by and see a light on, wave hello. That’s us writing, editing and publishing inside.
Hello, Detroit. It’s good to be home.
Claire Nelson is publisher of Model D, for which her work is nothing short of tireless.