GETTING AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE MOTOR CITY: SOARING SPACES AND GRACIOUS ROOMS TELL DETROIT’S STORY. The stories of cities, like those of people, can be best understood by learning about their inner life. Five Detroit area interiors — three commercial spaces and two former private homes — reflect chapters in the city’s vibrant history.

A CATHEDRAL OF FINANCE: THE GUARDIAN BUILDING GLOWS IN DETROIT’S FINANCIAL DISTRICT. Downtown Detroit has been the business heart of the city since the 1850s, expressing prosperity in structures like the 40-story Guardian Building, a 1929 Art Deco skyscraper. The soaring structure with its 632-foot high spire earned the nickname Cathedral of Finance. Its purpose was all business and during World War II it served as the U.S. Army Command Center for war time production. The Guardian Building is located at 500 Griswold St., Detroit, MI. For information about tours visit

WHERE FAMILY CAME FIRST: THE EDSEL AND ELEANOR FORD HOME. The Edsel and Eleanor Ford House reveals the home life of an American family whose name is intertwined with Detroit’s. Ford Home Docent Danila Farnsworth, said: “The Edsel and Eleanor Ford House is a family home. Although it’s 30,000 square feet, the rooms are small and comfortable, with the exception of the large gallery which was for entertaining. The Fords could have had a castle, but yet they opted for something that was comfortable, livable and that the kids enjoyed. The library was basically the family room. That’s where the family would gather and where the grandkids still remember coming over and spending time with Eleanor.” The Edsel and Eleanor Ford House is located at 1100 Lake Shore Drive, Grosse Pointe Shores, MI. For tour information visit

AN AMERICAN CASTLE: MATILDA DODGE WILSON, MEADOW BROOK HALL, AND AN ARTIST’S MASTERPIECE. A National Historic Landmark, Meadow Brook Hall was built between 1926 and 1929 by Matilda Dodge Wilson, widow of auto pioneer John Dodge, and her second husband, Alfred Wilson. The 110-room, 88,000-square-foot Tudor-revival house has among its treasures a molded and carved plaster dining room ceiling by sculptor Giuseppe Corrado Parducci (1900-1981). Madelyn Rzadkowolski, director of Meadowbrook curatorial services, said: “The carved and molded plaster ceiling was created by the studio of Detroit architectural sculptor Corrado Parducci. Though Parducci designed architectural decorations for more than 500 buildings in Michigan, this plaster ceiling is considered his finest work.” Meadow Brook Hall is located at 350 Estate Drive, Rochester, MI. For information visit

GM-RENCEN: GENERAL MOTORS RENAISSANCE CENTER ANCHORS DETROIT’S WATERFRONT. General Motors’ world headquarters is on Detroit’s International Riverfront, within the GM-owned Renaissance Center complex, nick-named RenCen. Seven interconnected skyscrapers comprise one of the world’s largest commercial complexes, whose central tower is the tallest all-hotel skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. RenCen’s multi-storied atrium provides a dramatic space in which GM vehicles are displayed. For information about free one-hour tours, contact 100 Renaissance Center, Detroit, MI.

REPURPOSED FOR THE NEXT HUNDRED YEARS: DETROIT’S FOUNDATION HOTEL IS A SMOKIN’ HOT NEW USE FOR A DISTINGUISHED OLD FIRE STATION. A steel-frame, five-story 1929 Neoclassical Detroit building, once the longtime home of Michigan’s oldest fire department, has been repurposed into the supremely modern Foundation Hotel. The ground floor, built a story and-a-half tall to accommodate fire trucks, provides a dramatic space for the hotel’s popular Apparatus restaurant. Architectural details have been preserved, such as cartouches over the north and south doors containing firefighter horns and hats. Located at 250 W. Larned St., Detroit. For more information visit Foundation Hotel General Manager Bob Lambert gives a tour:

AND REMEMBER. “We travel for romance, we travel for architecture and we travel to be lost.” — Ray Bradbury.

Susan Cohn is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association, Bay Area Travel Writers, and the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association. She may be reached at More of her stories may be found at

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