When Hamilton Bulldogs Operations Manager Peggy Chapman visited Detroit ten years ago, the city was trying to fight its way out of bankruptcy and the downtown core was dead except for days when sporting events were on. Easter weekend Peggy and daughter Rhaya went back to the motor city and were amazed at the vibrancy and feeling of safety. “I found Detroit’s downtown very alive, clean and friendly,” said Peggy, “young people were walking and jogging, and the waterfront trail was beautiful. The Detroit River was filled with boats of all sizes, and you could look back at the city and see those Art Deco skyscrapers.”
The highlight of any tour of Detroit is to tour its Art Deco skyscrapers and none is more spectacular than the Guardian Building. Designed by Michigan architects; erected by Michigan contractors; built by Michigan artisans–the Guardian Building is virtually a temple of Michigan commerce and ingenuity. In all, forty artisans worked on the structure’s painted murals and ceilings, intricate tile work, mosaic and stained glass, marble fixtures and vaulted lobby.
Some of the materials used include Mankato stone, pink granite, Rookwood pottery, Pewabic Tile, Flint Faiance tile, Italian Travertine marble, Belgian black marble, blood-red Numidian marble. This marble in the lobby wasn’t mined anywhere in 1928, so architect Wirt C.Rowland actually traveled to Africa and reopened a mine that went out of business 30 years prior just to get the red stone for the lobby. The lobby uses these materials in motifs that suggest the Aztecs and American Indian art.
Anthony Eugenio is largely responsible for the massive 150-foot barrel vaulted ceiling, one of the building’s most recognizable features. He stenciled the whole ceiling and cut all the tile for it. His crew of 10 painted the ceiling using a 16 color pallet. Sculptor Corrado Parducci carved the building’s facade pieces, two massive figural pieces that resemble knights and are intended to represent very bank-friendly ideas of Strength and Security.
Peggy and Rhaya—two women travelling alone—felt safe wherever they walked. “People wished you happy Easter—it was very friendly, Peggy said. They stayed at the Detroit Foundation Hotel—a renovated fire hall within walking distance of all attractions where a junior suite went for about $227 U.S.