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  1. #1
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    Default Motown locations in Detroit

    I'm from the Netherlands and new to this forum. As a Motown fan I (we!) have spent my (our) honeymoon in Detroit in 1994, and later attended fundraisers at the Roostertail, the re-opening of the Motown Historical Museum at West Grand Blvd and the Motown exhibition at Dearborn. We also drove hundreds to miles through Detroit to explore all the record stores.

    Since then I have read a lot about motown and Detroit and tried to locate all of the venues that were mentioned in the books. Some we have found, most we have not. Later on I found out that a lot have been demolished over the years. Has there been a thread here before with famous Detroit (Motown related) locations? I was curious to find out in which neighbourhood Berry gordy grew up, where he had his 3-D record store, where the housing project was where some of the artists like Diana Ross came from (Brewster Projects). With the help of Google Earth and old maps, it should be possible to make an overview of this. I have discovered a lot of information from the Soulful Detroit Forum, where pictures of the recording studios can be seen. But there must be so much more information out there.

    Suggestions anyone? Many thanks from the Netherlands!

  2. #2
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    Look over to the left of the post and you'll find a link to "Soulful Detroit", a sister site to this one. SD covers all things soul in The Motor City, and any question you may have can be answered there without any problem. The moderator worked for Barry at one time, and many other people connected with the record company drop by from time to time.

  3. #3
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    Brewster Projects are here.

  4. #4
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    Berry Gordys house is on West Boston Blvd off Woodward Ave. It is gorgeous. There was an article recently in the paper about the current owner, if I come across it I will post it.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for your replies douglasm, Bearinabox and Artistic. I am frequently on the Motown forum of Soulful Detroit, but they are more focussed on the music and the people, and rightly so. I just wanted to look at all the places. Thanks for the link to the Brwester Projects. I also noticed St. Antoine and remember that Berry Gordy lived somewhere on that street as a kid.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarcHolland View Post
    Thanks for your replies douglasm, Bearinabox and Artistic. I am frequently on the Motown forum of Soulful Detroit, but they are more focussed on the music and the people, and rightly so. I just wanted to look at all the places. Thanks for the link to the Brwester Projects. I also noticed St. Antoine and remember that Berry Gordy lived somewhere on that street as a kid.
    Just so you are aware the Brewster projects are in some stage of demolition. I am not sure when/if there is a date to demo but the windows have been removed and are now empty shells (minus the squatters).

  7. #7
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    In other words: if I want to see something, I will have to hurry.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarcHolland View Post
    In other words: if I want to see something, I will have to hurry.
    Not necessarily - The city may leave the projects shattered and broken for years before they get to demo'ing them.

  9. #9
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    Are you familiar with an area or town called Schermer? Not sure if I have the spelling right. My mother's maiden name was Schermerhorn, her ancestors were from that part of the Netherlands, though they came over to the USA some time in the 1600s.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jt1 View Post
    Not necessarily - The city may leave the projects shattered and broken for years before they get to demo'ing them.
    I think the city has completely forgotten about this area, the scrappers have raped an pilaged whatever is left of the buildings. It's an interesting sight to see, however be aware of your surroundings, I believe a film crew from Europe was carjacked in that area last year.

    In the Brewster complex is the Brewster Wheeler recreation center, where I believe Berry Gordy began his amateur boxing career (according to his autobiography.)

    I believe his boyhood home has been demolished, as has most of the black bottom area of Detroit. It is now burried under I-75, Ford Field and part of Lafayette Park. As previously mentioned, his later residence in the Historic Boston Edison neighborhood still stands. http://www.motownmansion.com

    Also, if you happen to be here next weekend, you can attend the Motown 50 Gala at the RenCen. http://www.motownmuseum.com/mtmpages...OWN50-GALA.pdf

  11. #11

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    Hi MarcHolland,
    Wow! Your dedication to your Motown History Hobby really is impressive!!! I just wanted to give you thumbs up.

  12. #12
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    Home in Detroit (T. Burton, 2008) pictures and describes the childhood, and later, homes of many of the Motown stars.

    A number of Motown celebrities lived in various Lafayette Park apartments and townhouses. Among them, Berry Gordy, Diana Ross, Martha Reeves, Earl Van Dyke, Stevie Wonder, and the composing team of Holland, Dozier,and Holland.

  13. #13
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    Barry Gordy grew up in the historic black neighborhoods of Detroit on the near east side, Black Bottom and Paradise Valley. These neighborhoods were almost entirely demolished in urban renewal efforts back in the 1950s and 60s. They were replaced with many things, as Science Fair indicates above, including the Brewster projects, which many of the former neighborhood residents moved into.

    Around this time African-American began to move into west side neighborhoods, including the area around the Hitsville Motown headquarters on W. Grand Blvd. The only significant remaining portion of the old black neighborhoods of Detroit is the Brush Park area west of the Chrysler Freeway (which sits where the main street of black Detroit, Hastings St., once stood) and the Brewster projects. Unfortunately, this area of large historic homes was supposed to be redeveloped but instead has largely wasted away due to neglect, negligence, corruption, and open hostility on the part of local government to historic preservation.

  14. #14
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    Hi Marc, if you want to dip below the Motown Era and see what remains of Berry Gordy's haunts, good luck. There ain't much. I saw Hastings St mentioned and that street figures prominently in Gordy's life, as others have mentioned. Rick Beall, who posted on this thread, has a wonderful site which offers a photo tour of Hastings St. - www.paradisevalleyblues.com
    Most of the Motown musicians were jazz guys who had "other lives" quite separated from the Motown hubub. Start with Rick's fine site, the man's done some original research, and you can actually tour the remains during your visit.
    Have you read Gordy's biography ("To Be Loved")? Has some good info about John R and the Flame Show Bar. You can drive John R but the only site still standing (to my knowledge - any corrections welcome) is at John R and Erskine, site of a two story ballroom where dances sponsored by the Twelve Horsemen club were held in the 40's. I think the Masons still own it. The ballrooms were intact several years ago, and if you're lucky they may allow you in.
    There are some maps in "Before Motown: A History of Jazz in Detroit, 1920-1960" and a discussion of Motown's roots.
    Last edited by Jimg; November-13-09 at 02:42 PM.

  15. #15
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    What about some of the Motown clubs. I know the Roostertail is still around. What about where the 20 Grand used to be, whats there now???

    Oh yeah the Downriver lounge is still around too.

  16. #16

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    Hi Marc, When we first created Soulful Detroit, our very first tour was the Soulful Detroit Tour. This is the 'crown jewel' tour of what was determined to be the most significant sites of the "motown" era recording era, of which Motown is just one.
    http://www.soulfuldetroit.com/web01-...oit/index.html

    We also created a clickable map to accompany the tour. http://www.soulfuldetroit.com/maps.htm

    Take that tour and you will graduate from Detroit Soul 101.

    The book "Before Motown" by JimG will fill you in on the history prior to that.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by MickeyMac View Post
    What about some of the Motown clubs. I know the Roostertail is still around. What about where the 20 Grand used to be, whats there now???

    Oh yeah the Downriver lounge is still around too.
    The 20 Grand was torn down earlier this year I believe. Nothing there but a lot next to a church. There's a pic of the former site on this link with a few memories of folks who were there.

    When I was little, relatives used to get dressed up and go to the 20 Grand all the time. I thought this place must be really special the way they talked about it.

    Soulful Detroit - The 20 Grand

  18. #18
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    Lowell.....
    ......thanks for reminding me about the tours. I've been wandering around SD and Detroit Yes for a good while now, but going back and looking around the tours was like rereading a favorite book.

  19. #19
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    Thank you all for all the information! And yes, I have an autographed copy of Berry Gordy's book, which he gave me at the opening of the Motown exhibition in Dearborn in 95 or 96. I thought I had everything published on Motown, but above I saw some new titles. Thanks again!
    Last edited by MarcHolland; November-16-09 at 04:05 AM.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lowell View Post
    Hi Marc, When we first created Soulful Detroit, our very first tour was the Soulful Detroit Tour. This is the 'crown jewel' tour of what was determined to be the most significant sites of the "motown" era recording era, of which Motown is just one.
    http://www.soulfuldetroit.com/web01-...oit/index.html

    We also created a clickable map to accompany the tour. http://www.soulfuldetroit.com/maps.htm

    Take that tour and you will graduate from Detroit Soul 101.

    The book "Before Motown" by JimG will fill you in on the history prior to that.
    Hi Lowell., I followed all the tours on Soulful Detroit and viewed all the pictures. I never saw the map though. That's a good starting point for me. For a European the distances within the city are HUGE. And the empty lots in downtown Detroit unbelievable. Since space is something we do not have in the Netherlands, either buildings will be renovated or replaced with new ones. And it is simply not allowed to construct in new places. The space between cities has to remain 'green'. So the solution for the Netherlands has been to get out the water and construct there. My house is 2 mtrs below sea level and in Rotterdam that's sometimes 6 mtrs. Amsterdam airport Schiphol is also below sea level. There used to be battles on that spot between ships.

  21. #21
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  22. #22
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    Thanks ridgeabilly, I looked up the location on Google Earth.

    I am still searching for the locations where the 3 original Supremes (Diana, Mary & Florency) lived in the mid sixties: Bella Vista. But Google Earth is not leading me there. Who can help with directions? Anyone has any idea of the numbers of the houses they were living there?

  23. #23
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    Diana Ross lived at 3762 Buena Vista (purchased with Berry Gordy's help in 1965). Florence Ballard lived across the street at 3767 Buena Vista and Mary Wilson was down the street at 4099 Buena Vista. These homes are all in the Russell Woods Historic District.

    Home in Detroit (T. Burton, 2008)

  24. #24
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    Thanks Neilr! I now easily could locate this on the map. Do these houses still exist? Because I see a lot of empty lots. I googled for the book you quoted: very interesting! Thanks again.
    Last edited by MarcHolland; November-18-09 at 07:44 AM.

  25. #25
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    Again, from T. Burton's book. Sorry about the (lack of) quality of my reproductions. It's my fault. The pictures in Burton's book are perfect. He published the book in 2008 and his photos were current at that time, so I'm guessing that the the houses look the same in 2009.

    The Russell Woods Historic District is one of Detroit's lesser known fine neighborhoods. It's similar to the University District but with smaller homes on narrower lots.

    https://www.ci.detroit.mi.us/histori...sell_woods.pdf
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