The Schvitz in North End has secured a $40,000 Motor City Match design grant to begin restoring the historical ballroom located above the bathhouse.
Once completed, the 4,000-square-foot ballroom will be restored to its former glory, with 20-foot vaulted ceilings, ballroom windows, portable bars and stages, and other amenities. After years of disrepair and a fire that destroyed it in the mid-20th century, the ballroom is in rough shape, with gaping holes in the exposed ceiling and drywall against the blocked off windows. The stairwell leading up to the ballroom is still painted “swinger purple.”
If all goes according to plan, work will begin in the spring and co-owner Patrick “Paddy” Lynch says the space should be up and running by this time next year. He estimates the first phase of the project will cost around $400,000. He is in talks with lenders on financing the project.
The vision for the ballroom is to create a "third place" for the neighborhood, where residents can gather and events could be held, Lynch says.
During the past two years under new ownership, The Schvitz has evolved to cater to a new clientele and broaden its programming offerings. The regulars are still there but now women are welcome after Torya Schoeniger, who oversees programming and social media for The Schvitz, advocated for opening the club up to women. At the first Ladies Brunch, 40 women came, signaling the beginning of a new era for the bathhouse. Other events include poetry readings, community meetings, yoga classes, weddings, and more. With the ballroom, Schoeniger says The Schvitz will be able to do more and on a larger scale.
Architect Anthony Morin of Omilian & Morin Architecture & Design has been tapped to design and oversee the first phase of the project.
Morin’s primary goal is “the growth of a new era in The Schvitz's historic role as a space for alternative society, cultural significance, and holistic wellbeing,” he said in a statement posted on Facebook. “The building that we today understand as The Schvitz is, in fact, a physical collage of many visions interwoven in layers of material and spatial transformation played out over the last 100 years ... Secret rooms and passages, interstitial floors and mezzanines have been built, removed, altered and restored over the years, as the functions of the building changed, leaving a spatial tapestry that makes this building an unparalleled artifact of the North End's diverse history. ... This is a complex and ideal canvas within which to unfold and integrate the new programs.”