Tag Archives: Park Shelton

DETROIT: Staycation…

7 Jan

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There’s not a better night’s sleep to be found than a night in the Raymond C Smith Carriage house at the Inn on Ferry Street. Upon waking we dress and walk the short distance to the main house of the Inn, the John Scott House; this is where guests check in and where breakfast and refreshments are served. The house itself is an orange brick Queen Ann with a wide front porch, built in 1886-87, original owner John Scott was a well-known architect. Scott’s firm, John Scott & Co. took in a young Albert Kahn (apparently he was everywhere!) as an apprentice, but let him go because he didn’t think Kahn had a future in the business–oops! The home, 84 E Ferry, resides on land that was originally part of the Ferry Seed Company, the property was later developed into an upper class neighborhood. Today the Inn consists of four restored Victorian homes and two carriage houses, close to museums, the DMC and Wayne State University.

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We enter the house through the back door, the aroma of fresh brewed coffee permeates the air, guests conversation creates a low hum. The breakfast area is lovely; walls are olive green, a fireplace of rectangular glazed tiles graces the back wall, ceiling and walls are accented with beautiful wood. We choose a table near a large window, morning light streams in. We hang our jackets on the chair backs, grab plates and fill them with items like scrambled eggs, waffles, fresh fruit, muffins and yogurt; there is also an assortment of coffee, tea and juices. As we eat, the Inns shuttle driver arrives, he is driving a group of guests downtown; the shuttle is free and will drop you off and pick you up within a 5-mile radius. When we have finished our breakfast I sip my coffee slowly as we decide how we will spend the rest of our day.

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The luggage is loaded and we have checked out. We walk to the end of the block, at the corner of Woodward and Kirby we step inside the Park Shelton. Built in 1926 as a residential hotel called The Wardell, it was named for Fred Wardell, founder of the Eureka Co. Interestingly enough, Kris’s mom and dad spent their honeymoon here back in the 1940’s, even more notable, Diego Rivera lived here while working on his mural at the DIA. The hotel was later bought by Sheraton and in the 1950’s renamed The Park Shelton Hotel; accommodations were luxurious, celebrities such as Bob Hope, George Burns, Gracie Allen and Raymond Burr were guests. In the 1970’s it became apartments, in 2004 the building was redeveloped into 227 luxury condos with retail and restaurants on the ground floor. The lobby has maintained its elegance with indoor fountains, rectangular columns capped in gold leaf, ornate plaster ceilings, dark marble accents and a gorgeous antique clock that hangs near the reception desk.

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Down the hall we wander into the Peacock Room, this is one of those pretty stores; gorgeous architecture and decor, clever displays, attractive merchandise for women featuring great hats, handbags, jewelry, clothing…… Everything a girl needs and then some! A few feet down, we duck into Goods LLC, mainly selling customized and Detroit-centric t-shirts, the shop also sells items from local artisans. Exiting through the Woodward door we proceed to Emerald, the newest of the shops in the Park Shelton, mainly a men’s store they have a wonderful selection of hats, gloves, scarves, ties, cuff links and shaving goods. The space is attractive, the chandelier came from an old theater downriver, it’s super cool, someone told me display cabinets came from the old downtown Hudsons. They have a nice selection of gift items and books too.

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After all that shopping we find ourselves hungry, lucky for us Good Girls Go To Paris Crepes is only a few steps away. Bright red walls are covered with French movie posters, the chalkboard menus of sweet and savory crepes have grown through the years. I order at the counter as Kris finds us a table, it seems this place is always busy. Owner Torya is behind the counter making crepes today, she makes it look so easy the way she spreads the batter, adds the filling and neatly folds each one. The Seine arrives first, a simple crepe with butter and sugar, to me there’s nothing better. The Dana is filled with chicken, Brie, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and herbs, it is delicious. We drop into 14 East next, serving gourmet coffee, tea and pastries it’s also a bit of an art gallery; furniture and decor are reminiscent of  Mid Century design. We order at the counter, cold brew coffee for Kris and a pour over for myself. 

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We are less than a block from the DIA, we decide to stop in and have a look. It’s Sunday, the museum is active with tours, drop-in workshops, drawing in the galleries and the Sunday Music Bar in Kresge Court. We observe visitors of all ages at easels creating pencil drawings with the assistance of artists. The Contemporary Art gallery  is one of our favorites, spanning the mid 20th century to present day, we find great American art from abstract painting to Pop Art. After a leisurely stroll through the building it is time to call it a day. It has been a fantastic weekend get-away, and we never had to leave our home town! 

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Detroit APBA Gold Cup Race, Wasabi, 1515 Broadway

15 Jul

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Sometimes I take things about Detroit for granted, we hadn’t attended a Gold Cup Hydroplane race in years. When I hear people say numbers like 3,000 horsepower or 200 miles per hour, they just don’t mean that much to me. As we approached the river and I caught a glimpse of 200 MPH, the monsterous roostertails, the sound of the turbine engines screaming by, all I can say is WOW ! Being up close and personal with that much power and speed is a whole different thing! We were seated near a hydroplane aficionado, after hearing stories of the history and tradition of the Gold Cup race I have gained a new respect for the event .

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The century old APBA Gold Cup is the oldest active trophy in motorsports, the 2011 races took place on the Detroit River July 8-10. The minute we arrived to the race a group of boats went speeding by, they were so close it appeared like they were in the yard we were in! We had set up our chairs in the perfect location, providing a combination of shade and a great view, the river breeze and mist from the boats providing a welcome relief from the summer heat. Between heats there was an air show, first to perform was a bi-plane doing an aerobatic show, the stalls always make me nervous. When the bi-plane was finished, out of nowhere there was a sound that resembled some sort of explosion, before we could comprehend what was happening a Navy FA-18 flew overhead producing the loudest sounds I had ever heard. The US Navy West Coast Super Hornet Team was demonstrating the maneuvers of the aircraft. It was absolutely amazing, the sound so loud your entire body felt it.  There are several different kinds of boats that race; some louder than others, some have outboard engines, but the big piston engined offshores  are the loudest by far. I think the hydroplanes gather the most attention, they throw up an astonishing rooster tail, when you get several of them taking a curve it’s just a blast of water up into the air, very cool! I would highly recommend checking it out if you ever get the opportunity to come to Detroit to see the races.

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We were lucky enough to receive the invitation through Preservation Wayne, the event was held at a historic home on the same street as the Manoogian Mansion, and is a beautiful example of Georgian architecture, the front is as lovely as the back. The yard is 300′ long ending at the Detroit River and has lush gardens and towering trees to provide needed shade on a scorching summer day. We took a walk through the lively Berry  neighborhood, many other families were hosting parties as well. The homes here are upscale, lavish, and regal. Each is different and possess it’s own elegance and charm.

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The races were coming to a close and we were out of snacks, time to go eat. Wasabi is a Korean/Japanese restaurant in the Park Shelton on Woodward in Detroit. The menu is large and provides a good variety of choices, we like the Sushi. We sat in the modern interior of the restaurant, but you can also sit in the section that is actually in the Park Shelton lobby itself. They have tables set up as if you were outdoors on a patio, some even have umbrellas. From here you can admire the the interior of the building itself; marble floors, ornate ceilings, beautifully carved moldings. When our food arrived we couldn’t wait to dig in, the Sushi was delicious, the perfect meal on such a hot day. We tried the Gyoza this time and loved it. Overall we had a really nice meal, in a wonderful setting.

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Time for a coffee and something sweet. It can be tough sometimes to find places open in the late afternoon of a Sunday, especially in the summer. We can usually count on 1515 Broadway, and were happy to see not only that they were open, but that there was an available table outside.  Besides serving espresso, coffee, desserts, sandwiches and salads, 1515 Broadway is also a small (seats 115) blackbox theater. They usually bring in shows with small touring groups that are locally written, we saw a show there years ago and it was fun. The interior is quaint, you can sit in the front window on stools overlooking Broadway and out at the Detroit Opera House, or they also have a small seating area adjacent to the counter.  With our iced coffees and Bumpy Cake in hand we chose to sit in the great outdoors, the owner returned to the intense game of chess he was playing out there at the time. People who live in the neighborhood were out for a stroll enjoying the day, everyone seems to know each other around here and we are always greeted with a smile.

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