The Smitty and Detroit’s University Club

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the.smitty // Detroit, MI, photo by Brian Day

Historic Detroit says that the University Club:

…was a fraternal organization where the city’s educated men could go to hang out and network.

The organization was founded in 1899 in Swan’s Chop House at the northwest corner of Woodward and Larned. To be a member, you had to have graduated from a university or college. George P. Codd, a congressman and mayor, was the group’s first president. The group would move several times before it would move into this structure on East Jefferson in 1931. It was designed by William Kapp of the architectural firm Smith, Hinchman & Grylls in the Collegiate Gothic style. Among its features were underground 4 Singles and 1 Doubles Squash Courts, and 1 Racquets Court, and a grand two-story great hall. There were also 24 bedrooms on the third floor. This building was for only the boys, and women were forced to use a side entrance on Jefferson.

…At 4:30 a.m. on June 15, 2013, a massive fire ripped through the club’s dining hall and destroyed other parts of the building. “It took fire crews nearly six hours to completely extinguish the blaze, which continued to flare up into the evening,” DetroitUrbex.com notes.

Click the pic to view it bigger and see more of Brian’s work at BrianDay.org.

Anchors Aweigh: S.S. Greater Detroit Anchor Recovered

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Launch of the SS Greater Detroit,  courtesy Great Lakes Maritime Institute

Thanks to an alert reader who let me know that the dredge in yesterday’s photo was on the way back from a mission to retrieve a 6000-pound anchor from the Detroit River for the Great Lakes Maritime Institute. There’s a video below and you can get the story via mLive:

The anchor emerged from the river just before the sun set behind the Ambassador Bridge, catching its first glimpse of daylight for the first time in 60 years.It once belonged to the luxury steamer Greater Detroit, one of the two largest side-wheel steamers ever built, which ferried passengers around the Great Lakes in style from the mid-1920’s through the mid-1950’s.

The Great Lakes Maritime Institute has a nice history of the SS Greater Detroit aka “Leviathan of the Great Lakes” that says in part:

The Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company was planning on expanding after World War I by providing more daily commercial traffic on Lake Erie between Buffalo, New York and Detroit, Michigan.

…In 1922 the naval architect Frank E. Kirby provided the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company with a architectural drawing for a massive side wheel steamer that would carry passengers and freight on the Buffalo to Detroit route. The plan called for the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation company to construct two vessels, the S.S. GREATER DETROIT and the S.S. GREATER BUFFALO which would provide continual service across Lake Erie.  The length overall of the vessels was 536 feet and with the side paddle wheels the overall width of the vessel was ninety six feet.

…The Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company was so proud of the Steamer GREATER DETROIT that when they issued new stock certificates in 1925 the image of this vessel was engraved at the top of the certificates. The vessel could not only carry some 2,127 passengers, but provided 625 staterooms and made allowances for the storing of 103 automobiles on the main deck.

There were excellent accommodations provided for the passengers and the crew. In the pilothouse there was a separate steering wheel for the bow rudder to help navigate the narrow rivers and harbors. The bow rudder also helped when the steamer left the Detroit dock. At 5:30 P.M. the captain would ring the telegraph to the engine room and request the engineer to start the engines and to back away from the dock. Using the Detroit River current and the bow rudder the vessel would swing out into the current and turn around headed downriver to Lake Erie.

Read on for lots more including some cool old brochures and click to their homepage for more in the recovery!

The Detroit Lions: America’s (Thanksgiving Day) Team

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Detroit Lions First Thanksgiving Game, photographer unknown

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am very thankful to have so many people who are passionate about Michigan giving me the drive to continue exploring the Great Lakes State through Michigan in Pictures.

I am also thankful that the Detroit Lions are in first place in the NFC North as they head into today’s 12:30 PM game at Ford Field vs the Minnesota Vikings. The Detroit Lions tell the story of the Origin of the Lions’ Thanksgiving Day Game:

The game was the brainchild of G.A. Richards, the first owner of the Detroit Lions. Richards had purchased the team in 1934 and moved the club from Portsmouth, Ohio to the Motor City. The Lions were the new kids in town and had taken a backseat to the baseball Tigers. Despite the fact the Lions had lost only one game prior to Thanksgiving in 1934, the season’s largest crowd had been just 15,000.

The opponent that day in 1934 was the undefeated, defending World Champion Chicago Bears of George Halas. The game would determine the champion of the Western Division. Richards had convinced the NBC Radio Network to carry the game coast-to-coast (94 stations) and, additionally, an estimated 26,000 fans jammed into the University of Detroit Stadium while thousands more disappointed fans were turned away.

Despite two Ace Gutowsky touchdowns, the Bears won the inaugural game, 19-16, but a classic was born.

Read on for more and definitely check out this MMQB article on Turkey Day in Detroit featuring Detroit sportswriter Mike O’Hara and some more great old photos.

Go Lions!!

Fahrenheit Freakout

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Fahrenheit, photo by Eric

WILX-Lansing says that temperatures are expected to climb to the upper 60s to near 70 degrees today in Lansing and Jackson where the record high temperature today for both is 69 degrees. According to the forecast from the Weather Underground, Detroit will also flirt with today’s record high of 70 set on November 18, 1953. If you’re curious, you can head over to Wunderground’s history page and enter your city or town.

And of course we are headed for yet another global record high temperature in 2016.

View Eric’s photo bigger and see more in his Belle Isle slideshow.

More Michigan weather on Michigan in Pictures.

 

 

The Great Storm of 1913 and the Charles S. Price

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I’ve featured the worst storm in Great Lakes history before, but ThumbWind has a cool feature on The Great Storm of 1913 that includes some interesting information and photos. It says in part:

…the most savage storm in the history of the Great Lakes swept the inland waters November 7-12, 1913 resulting in much greater loss of life. Combined of the forces of two storm fronts colliding with hurricane force bringing monstrous waves and driving snow and ice that doomed anyone caught out on the big lake. The greatest losses in lives and ships occurred on Lake Huron where 24 vessels were lost or severely damaged. 10 ships went to the bottom of the lake.

…On Lake Huron big freighters were tossed about by winds blowing from seventy-five to eighty miles an hour. One of these steamers was the Charles S. Price which received more space on the front pages of newspapers than any other ship. On Saturday morning, the Price, laden with soft coal, left Ashtabula, Ohio. When the freighter passed the town of St. Clair before dawn on Sunday morning, November 9, Second Mate Howard Mackley gave a short blast of the whistle as a signal to his young bride that he was passing and in reply she turned on an upstairs light in their home. By dawn the Price was making its way up Lake Huron. About noon Sunday the Price was seen north of Harbor Beach by Capt. A. C. May of the Steamer H. B. Hawgood.

On Monday afternoon a big steel freighter was seen floating upside down in the lake about eight miles north and east of the mouth of Lake Huron. Many people were anxious to learn the name of the steamer, although it was generally believed to be the Regina. On Wednesday morning an attempt was made to find out the identity of the vessel, however, owing to the high sea the diver did not make his descent. Lake Huron kept its awful secret for almost a week. It was not until Saturday morning, November 15, that William H. Baker, a diver from Detroit, solved the mystery. When he went down he read the name of the steamer twice and the letters spelled out Charles S. Price. The forward part of the bottom of the ship was buoyed up by air that was held in her when she turned turtle, but two streams of bubbles were coming out of the bow which meant that she would settle gradually. On Monday morning, November 17, the Price disappeared from view.

Read on for much more and follow Thumbwind on Facebook too!

More Michigan shipwrecks on Michigan in Pictures.

Happy Halloween … and the Indian Drum

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Happy Halloween, photo by Julie

Happy Halloween everyone! I shared this story a few years ago, but since we’re back up on northern Lake Michigan at a time when the witch of November is rousing, why not share it again? In 1915, William MacHarg & Edwin Balmer wrote a book called The Indian Drum. The whole book is available online along with 53,000+ more books at Project Gutenberg. Chapter I begins:

Near the northern end of Lake Michigan, where the bluff-bowed ore-carriers and the big, low-lying, wheat-laden steel freighters from Lake Superior push out from the Straits of Mackinac and dispute the right of way, in the island divided channel, with the white-and-gold, electric lighted, wireless equipped passenger steamers bound for Detroit and Buffalo, there is a copse of pine and hemlock back from the shingly beach. From this copse—dark, blue, primeval, silent at most times as when the Great Manitou ruled his inland waters—there comes at time of storm a sound like the booming of an old Indian drum. This drum beat, so the tradition says, whenever the lake took a life; and, as a sign perhaps that it is still the Manitou who rules the waters in spite of all the commerce of the cities, the drum still beats its roll for every ship lost on the lake, one beat for every life.

So—men say—they heard and counted the beatings of the drum to thirty-five upon the hour when, as afterward they learned, the great steel steamer Wenota sank with twenty-four of its crew and eleven passengers; so—men say—they heard the requiem of the five who went down with the schooner Grant; and of the seventeen lost with the Susan Hart; and so of a score of ships more. Once only, it is told, has the drum counted wrong.

At the height of the great storm of December, 1895, the drum beat the roll of a sinking ship. One, two, three—the hearers counted the drum beats, time and again, in their intermitted booming, to twenty-four. They waited, therefore, for report of a ship lost with twenty-four lives; no such news came. The new steel freighter Miwaka, on her maiden trip during the storm with twenty-five—not twenty-four—aboard never made her port; no news was ever heard from her; no wreckage ever was found. On this account, throughout the families whose fathers, brothers, and sons were the officers and crew of the Miwaka, there stirred for a time a desperate belief that one of the men on the Miwaka was saved; that somewhere, somehow, he was alive and might return. The day of the destruction of the Miwaka was fixed as December fifth by the time at which she passed the government lookout at the Straits; the hour was fixed as five o’clock in the morning only by the sounding of the drum.

The region, filled with Indian legend and with memories of wrecks, encourages such beliefs as this. To northward and to westward a half dozen warning lights—Ile-aux-Galets (“Skilligalee” the lake men call it), Waugaushance, Beaver, and Fox Islands—gleam spectrally where the bone-white shingle outcrops above the water, or blur ghostlike in the haze; on the dark knolls topping the glistening sand bluffs to northward, Chippewas and Ottawas, a century and a half ago, quarreled over the prisoners after the massacre at Fort Mackinac; to southward, where other hills frown down upon Little Traverse Bay, the black-robed priests in their chapel chant the same masses their predecessors chanted to the Indians of that time. So, whatever may be the origin of that drum, its meaning is not questioned by the forlorn descendants of those Indians, who now make beadwork and sweet-grass baskets for their summer trade, or by the more credulous of the white fishermen and farmers; men whose word on any other subject would receive unquestioning credence will tell you they have heard the drum.

Read on at Project Gutenberg.

View Julie’s photo bigger and see more in her Holidays slideshow.

See 700 more Halloween photos in the Absolute Michigan photo group  and more haunted, Halloween fun on Michigan in Pictures.

Get your (Michigan) ghost town on!

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through the never, photo by Marty Hogan

mLive’s Emily Bingham has a feature on 11 eerie & intriguing ghost towns in Michigan that is definitely worth checking out. The slide for the Upper Peninsula ghost town of Central says:

This abandoned village on the U.P.’s Keweenaw Peninsula was a company town of nearly 1,300 residents, many of them German and Cornish immigrants who’d come to work in the copper mines. The town had a post office, three-story school, and one of the first telephone services in Copper Country. The mine closed in 1898, only four decades after it had opened, and residents quickly left to find work elsewhere. All that remains are thirteen houses and a Methodist church, maintained by the Keweenaw Historical Society; every year on the last Sunday of July, locals and descendants of the Central Mine villagers attend a special service at the church to honor those who lived there.

If you’re looking to get more ghost town goodness, look no further than Marty Hogan! His photo albums get up close and personal some of Michigan’s coolest forgotten communities. View this photo background bigilicious and see more in his Central slideshow.