Book Cadillac Hotel
Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, Mich.
Award Type: Honor Award
When it opened in 1924, Detroit's Renaissance Revival-style Book Cadillac Hotel – with its massive limestone, brick and terra cotta façade and distinctive copper roof – was, at 33 stories, the tallest hotel in the world. The Book brothers, J.B., Herbert and Frank, envisioned their hotel on Washington Blvd. as the centerpiece of the most opulent retail destination in the Midwest. An instant sensation and a dramatic addition to the Detroit skyline, the Book Cadillac Hotel was home to nationally recognized nightclubs, restaurants and ballrooms, all decorated in a lavish Venetian style, the most richly appointed interiors imaginable.
From its opening day, the Book Cadillac catered to Hollywood stars, leading politicians and sports heroes. In 1939, the hotel would become immortalized in baseball lore when Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig collapsed on the Book-Cadillac's grand staircase. He would later be diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. A little later, the hotel made its motion picture debut in Frank Capra's 1947 movie "State of the Union," starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.
The Book Cadillac changed hands many times through the decades, with each owner remodeling and adapting to stylistic demands of the time. The building's decline began in the 1970s, and in 1984, the hotel was closed. During the next two decades, the building's iconic copper roof was stripped, and the resulting structural decay was so devastating it reached the building's skeletal structure. In October of 2008, after a 3-year, $180 million meticulous restoration led by the Ferchill Group, a developer from Cleveland, the Book Cadillac reopened. In a complicated and exhaustive deal, The Ferchill Group assembled $180 million in financing from 22 different sources to renovate the building and return it to its former grandeur. Exterior surfaces and materials were inspected and restored and more than 2,000 historically appropriate windows installed, while cherished public spaces have been reclaimed from the wreckage.
"The Grande Dame of Washington Blvd. is as resplendent as she was on the day the Book brothers opened for business," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "The anchor of a revitalizing neighborhood, this icon of luxury and opulence is now a symbol of the gritty determination of Detroiters who would not let the Book Cadillac Hotel die."
Along with The Ferchill Group, co-recipients honored for restoration of the Book Cadillac Hotel are: Westin Hotels and Resorts; Kaczmar Architects, Inc.; Sandvick Architects; Forrest Perkins, LLC; Desai Nasr Consulting Engineers; Marous Brothers Construction; Jenkins Construction; and Denk Associates, Inc.