Lee Plaza (Detroit)

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Lee Plaza Hotel
Lee Plaza Detroit.jpg
Lee Plaza (Detroit) is located in Michigan
Lee Plaza (Detroit)
Location 2240 W. Grand Blvd.
Detroit, Michigan
Coordinates 42°21′34″N 83°6′6″W / 42.35944°N 83.10167°W / 42.35944; -83.10167Coordinates: 42°21′34″N 83°6′6″W / 42.35944°N 83.10167°W / 42.35944; -83.10167
Area less than one acre
Built 1928 (1928)
Architect Charles Noble
Architectural style Art Deco
NRHP Reference # 81000319[1]
Added to NRHP November 5, 1981

The Lee Plaza (also known as the Lee Plaza Hotel or Lee Plaza Apartments) is a vacant 15-story high-rise apartment building located at 2240 West Grand Boulevard, about one mile west of New Center along West Grand Boulevard, an area in Detroit, Michigan. It is a registered historic site by the state of Michigan and was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places on November 5, 1981. Designed by Charles Noble and constructed in 1929, it rises to 15 floors and is an excellent example of Art Deco architecture of the 1920s.[2]


The Lee Plaza Hotel was built in 1928 for Ralph T. Lee, a Detroit developer. Noted residential architect Charles Noble designed the building.[3] It was constructed to be an upscale apartment with hotel services. Decorated with sculpture and tile outside, the structure rivaled the Book-Cadillac and Statler Hotels for architectural notice in Detroit during the 1920s. The building opened in 1929, but Lee quickly sold it to the Detroit Investment Co.[4] Like many companies, the Detroit Investment Co. had financial issues at the beginning of the Great Depression, and the Lee Plaza went through a series of owners, some of whom Ralph T. Lee had an interest in. By 1935 both Ralph Lee and the Lee Plaza were bankrupt.[4]

The ownership of the building was tied up in court until 1943.[4] However, in that time luxury apartment living had fallen out of favor, residents left, and the hotel started renting rooms to transient guests. In 1968, the city of Detroit turned the building into a senior citizens' complex.[3] However, in the 1980s, the Lee began losing residents, and the building was finally closed in 1997.[4]

Since that time, the Lee Plaza has been stripped of many of its architectural elements.[4] The city has looked for a redeveloper, and in 2015, developer Craig Sasser, announced a $200 million redevelopment of Lee Plaza and the surrounding area.[5] [6] However, in October 2016, Harold Ince, interim executive director of the Detroit Housing Commission announced that the planned redevelopment appears dead after Sasser failed to purchase the property.[7]


The Lee Plaza Hotel is a 15 story, "I" plan, steel and reinforced concrete structure, faced with orange glazed brick, with a steeply pitched roof originally covered in red tile (later replaced with copper, which has been since stripped).[4]The first story of the building is forms a terra cotta clad base with molded Palladian windows, from which prominent brick piers rise to the roof, forming strong vertical lines. Decorative details are inset in the form of terra cotta belt courses, spandrel plaques, corbelled friezes and window surrounds.[3]

The interior contains 220 one to four room apartments. The first floor has a main lobby with a coffered ceiling, east and west lounges, two wood-panelled dining rooms, and a ballroom. The main hallway was dubbed "Peacock Alley," a barrel-vaulted space with coffered ceiling covered in a rich color scheme of blues, golds and greens. [3] The basement originally contained a beauty parlor, a game room, a children's playroom, and a meat market and grocer. [4]


See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Hill, Eric J.; John Gallagher (2002). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3. 
  • Meyer, Katherine Mattingly and Martin C.P. McElroy with Introduction by W. Hawkins Ferry, Hon A.I.A. (1980). Detroit Architecture A.I.A. Guide Revised Edition. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-1651-4. 
  • Sharoff, Robert (2005). American City: Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3270-6. 

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