DetroitYES Mini-Film Festival presents two Detroit-themed films by German director Dieter Marcello.
READ MORE »

JOIN DETROITYES NOW
FREE AND FUN

DISCUSSING ALL THINGS DETROIT SINCE 1999

ENJOY DETROITYES?


AND HAVE ADS REMOVED DETAILS »

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 27
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,683

    Default Fort Shelby Crystal Ballroom

    How loyal to the original is the renovated Fort Shelby Crystal Ballroom?

    I ask because our parents had their wedding reception there and I thought it would be nice for them to see, if it retained some of the original features. Their website doesn't really show much to go on (to compare to their wedding album).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    5,671

    Default

    From what I remember... the Book Cadillac Ballroom was recreated with much (but not all) of the ceiling plasterwork recreated.

    But the Fort Shelby was going to use a cheaper route... namely "stenciling"... where instead of 3 dimensional ornate plasterwork, 2 dimensional images of the detailing was used.

    Haven't been there, so I cannot confirm this 100%... but that's what I read when the Fort Shelby was being renovated.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    1,504

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gistok View Post
    Haven't been there, so I cannot confirm this 100%... but that's what I read when the Fort Shelby was being renovated.
    Confirmed!

    Found these pictures on Flickr.

    Looking shabby in 2006.


    Looking dandy in 2009!

    Okay, so it's not platerwork anymore, but they really did a decent job. I have my questions about the carpet though...


    Edit:
    Found a lighter picture of the current state of the Ballroom. (Credit Mark H.)

    Looks better now.
    Last edited by Whitehouse; August-23-10 at 05:12 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    571

    Default

    The ceiling is now canvas, painted to look like plaasterwork.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    905

    Default

    I was thrilled to see the Book-Cadillac renovation and have stayed there twice since it reopened.

    But I think the claim that it has been restored "to it's original...." are a bit overstated. The chandeliers are modern, the balconies over the main ballroom floor are no longer open, etc.

    Still, a beautiful old icon was saved from implosion, so I give the owners lots of credit. And a few other old downtown hotels in other cities were similarly renovated, with shortcuts taken to avoid exhorbitant costs.

    I was in the Fort Shelby once for dinner and was reasonably impressed with what I saw of it.

    My recommendation would be YES, go check it out. They may not be pristine recreations but both hotels are definitely worth a visit.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,683

    Default

    Cool, thanks...

    Is the hotel restaurant any good? I see mixed reviews online but they all seem to be from 2009.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    905

    Default

    why not try it and decide for yourself? A friend of mine enjoys the Fort Shelby restaurant and says very good things about it. But if reviews are mixed, then why not decide how good you personally think it is. It gives you an opportunity to visit the place and spend some time enjoying it. If you don't think dinner is fab, at least you have had a unique experience and some exposure to Detroit history.

    For example, I have stayed at the Book Cadillac and have eaten at both Roast and 24/7 Grill. I actually preferred the Grill, but only because I'm not a major carnivore and Roast is a venue that centers on high quality meats. Because I'm not a meat enthusiast I would not trash Roast by any means.

    I worked in various expensive restaurants in college, the prevailing opinion about reviewing restaurants is that you should try a place three times before making a judgment. Any good place sometimes turns out a poor meal and vice versa. Plus there is the element of ambiance and maybe in your case past experiences and memories. How do you figure that into a restaurant review?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    563

    Default

    They probably couldn't find anyone to reproduce the old world craftsman ship that originally built it. Those guys are all in the cemeteries by now. I mean, they don't teach plaster sculpture and relief work at community college, do they? But, better stenciled, than bulldozed, I always say!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    905

    Default

    Absolutely. To have lost either the Fort Shelby or the Book Cadillac would have been horrible. My guess is that with so many hotels already downtown that the redevelopers of either project could have given up early on before even purchasing the properties. Instead they took a gamble and did something wonderful for the city, so who can complain?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    179

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kathy2trips View Post
    They probably couldn't find anyone to reproduce the old world craftsman ship that originally built it. Those guys are all in the cemeteries by now. I mean, they don't teach plaster sculpture and relief work at community college, do they? But, better stenciled, than bulldozed, I always say!
    Could they not have made molds of what was left, if anything? I assume that there was nothing left to get a mold from but I thought I'd ask.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    145

    Default

    they could've replicated the plaster work that was there. it was "value engineered" out.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    5,671

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kathy2trips View Post
    They probably couldn't find anyone to reproduce the old world craftsman ship that originally built it. Those guys are all in the cemeteries by now. I mean, they don't teach plaster sculpture and relief work at community college, do they? But, better stenciled, than bulldozed, I always say!
    Actually... old world craftsmanship has been sort of a rekindled business... check out Conrad Schmitt Studios...
    http://www.conradschmitt.com/portfolio/

    There are several restoration firms that specialize in ornate interiors (and exteriors).

    It's more a matter of fact of how much you're willing to spend...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    1,504

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gistok View Post
    Actually... old world craftsmanship has been sort of a rekindled business... check out Conrad Schmitt Studios...
    http://www.conradschmitt.com/portfolio/

    There are several restoration firms that specialize in ornate interiors (and exteriors).

    It's more a matter of fact of how much you're willing to spend...
    And besides that, the building was saved! So the took some shortcuts to do it. At least it's still there.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    563

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gistok View Post
    Actually... old world craftsmanship has been sort of a rekindled business... check out Conrad Schmitt Studios...
    http://www.conradschmitt.com/portfolio/...
    Ah, now you talkin'~! Thanks for that link, BTW. So where would you go for training if you aspired to work at a place like Conrad Schmitt Studios?

    I've noticed that their website states that they employ people from around the country...and the world. Once, people learned from their parents in the old days, and there's been no alternative form of education as a substitute. My dad was one of those people.

    Today, computers are getting increasingly common in the trades, with everything from CAD to millworking software. Plus, a lot of new building materials have come into play in the last 100 years that would not only be applicable, but sometimes even preferable to more traditional materials.

    I wish we had a building trades school, something beyond the community college level...a master program, if you will. We've got plenty of buildings that would be awesome training grounds to learn. Can you imagine having a applied lab class somewhere on Belle Isle, for example? Wow~!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    413

    Default

    I've been to a lot of places throughout Europe where painting to look like plaster wasn't a shortcut taken during a restoration - trompe l'oeil was the way they did it in the first place.

    Quote Originally Posted by Whitehouse View Post
    And besides that, the building was saved! So the took some shortcuts to do it. At least it's still there.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    192

    Default

    We do. It's called the Randolph Trade School.

    That is one place that I know of. I was in their building the other day and they have done extensive work on re-"pulling" the palster crown mouldings and they do a great job! The art of making the "pulls" is becoming more and more obscure every day, but there are a lot of people like Randolph (and our own Historic Fort Wayne Coalition) that do this type of stuff all the time. I recently cast several rosettes and ceiling medallions and they are very easy to do if you have the right material and a bit of patience.

    The twist with the Coalition is that you have to come down and volunteer to get the training! Our workdays are on our website (next is September 18, 9am to 5pm). We are refurbishing the rear stairs and front porch railings and lattice of the 1870's Commandants House that day and if that isn't convenient for you, check when the other dates are and I will be glad to give you a tour of what we do if you would like. I am the Lead Preservation Carpenter there and we try to share our experience with all of our members, most of it in a less formal environment.

    I also do restoration work at the Detroit Historical Museum, the last of which was cleaning and refurbishing the 1893 hearse made by the Cunningham Coach Company of Rochester, New York. Obviously, there is very little done in the way of refurbishing a museum item that old, but that is where you learn the techniques that were used in the old methodology and you can figure out how to replicate that by educating yourself and application of that education (practise, practise, practise!) from there.

    For instance, we have taught historic window restoration classes at Fort Wayne for a couple of years. We teach people how to rehab original 9 over 9 windows starting with the basics. We have offered more advanced classes recently and the windows we have used have required extensive rail and stile rebuilding aas well as muntion replacement and glazing. Masterblaster, Zimm and girlfriend, Mikie and Crystal and hubby are just a few of the forumers that have taken and participated in the classes before, and they did a knockout job on what they were able to pick up!

    Most of the work is done with basic handtools, as I have began to assemble quite a few antique tools that are specific to those tasks, and make our own sheet metal forms "pullers" for the plaster.

    We are also going to start classes soon on historic reproduction work for things like stairs and other wooden projects as well, again building with hand tools although I have a fully stocked "modern" woodshop at my disposal. Somehow, it just doesn't "feel" old when you replicate hand made things with electric power tools, so I try to research the old world methodology, apply it, then teach it to others so that we can stay in the theme of things so to speak.

    There are also other entities that do that kind of work all over. You just have to check around, and you will find a few quite readily.

    I believe Metaldoctor teaches old world style metalworking as well so you could probably PM him here and ask. He is very good at what he does, and if he does not teach it, I'm sure he knows someone who does.

    I believe that the MPHN offers some various classes sometimes as well.

    Also, out of state, there is the school that I have attended and learned from the most, the North Bennett Street School in Boston, Mass. They have an awesome, but intensive and expensive series of courses that will definately teach you the old world ways, if you take the time and have some cash. Otherwise, there is always the Fort, as we do a wide variety of restoration there. You are welcome to come down on a workday or PM me anytime and I will try to set something up for you.

    Hope this helps. Let us at the Coalition know if we can be of assistance.

    PlymouthRes

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    192

    Default

    By the way, don't expect to start on the major projects right away, especially if you don't even know the basics of carpentry or haven't done a LOT of reading on the subject you want to get involved in. I have had people come down to volunteer and get frustrated because they were taking so long to get to the "meat" of what they wanted to learn. It doesn't happen overnight, and you should expect to do very little to nothing for the first YEAR you are involved with any place like the Fort.

    A good example are people that expect me to put razor sharp planes, chisles and other carving tools into their hands without using a few basic techniques on a smaller scale first, then moving up from there. You only get to move up if you show proficiency with the small steps first.

    It's taken me thirty years of "apprenticeship" to get to this place, and you can't expect anyone competent to just turn over 160 year old items to someone who hasn't taken the time to at least do a little studying on the techniques they are interested in or to have educated themselves in proper tool usage and terminology. A good primer is Fine Woodworking or The old House Journal for antique restoration techniques and that is just a start.

    These types of things take time, which means a LOT of sweat equity before even attempting to do the actual work.

    I have seen people DESTROY a window sash of that age in just two or three mistrokes of the tool, and that was just stripping and re-glazing one!

    In the case of plaster work, though, the curve should be a bit less lenghty, but you still should study-up on molds (male and female, mold draw, proper mold release agents, plaster mixs and the techniques used to combine them, etc.) before you even endeavor to attempt to do the actual work.

    PlymouthRes

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    563

    Default

    Awesome that you offer classes for DIYers, the place in Ohio does as well. The Randolph Career & Technical Center is great, but it's a public HS. What about after that? Higher education for trades?

    If a post-high school kid wants a career working with old-world techniques, what advice would you give them? Obviously artistic talent is a plus, but where could you get official accreditation, like a certificate or degree? Thanks!

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    2

    Default

    We are having our wedding reception at the Fort Shelby in just a few weeks, and I must say I'm so excited about the venue!

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    830

    Default

    THERE WAS AN ARTICLE in the Detroit News, I believe, that interviewed the woman who was doing the stencil work to replicate the look of the plaster, as the work was ongoing in either '07 or '08. I know it was posted here. I quickly went back through the old forum archive to try to dig it up, with no luck. Perhaps someone else can take a look for it. I'll take a rehabbed, occupied Fort Shelby any day minus some plaster over a derelict empty non-contributing historic structure any day.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    905

    Default

    I remember seeing an article in one of the local papers online. It was in one of the articles about the Fort Shelby renovation.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    1,504

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenay View Post
    We are having our wedding reception at the Fort Shelby in just a few weeks, and I must say I'm so excited about the venue!

    You finally found a tread to reply to.

    Quote Originally Posted by kryptonite View Post
    I remember seeing an article in one of the local papers online. It was in one of the articles about the Fort Shelby renovation.

    Found a old thread dealing with the subject.

    And maybe you're referring to this link.\

    Another link.

    The rest of the article is a dead link, but HURRAHH!! for the internet archive!

    Still on the net, the full article.
    Last edited by Whitehouse; September-02-10 at 12:01 PM.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    152

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rocko View Post
    THERE WAS AN ARTICLE in the Detroit News, I believe, that interviewed the woman who was doing the stencil work to replicate the look of the plaster, as the work was ongoing in either '07 or '08. I know it was posted here. I quickly went back through the old forum archive to try to dig it up, with no luck. Perhaps someone else can take a look for it. I'll take a rehabbed, occupied Fort Shelby any day minus some plaster over a derelict empty non-contributing historic structure any day.

    The particular article was printed in February 2008, however it's not available to read online for free. The artist's name is Kathleen Spicer and she was working out of Yonkers, NY.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    117

    Default

    Pictures from the soon to open Ft Shelby on the freepress website http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/g...arams=Itemnr=3

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    47

    Default

    It looks great in those freep pics! I wish them all the best. Although this building may have the most incredibly loud carpets under one roof.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •