The Way It Was


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1935 Shaded by lush trees, this smart-looking building resembles a posh residential hotel in Manhattan, but the locale is Midtown Detroit, photographed from the lawn of the Detroit Main Library. Rising majestically at East Kirby Street and Woodward Avenue, the Wardell Apartment Hotel (now the Park Shelton) was built in 1926 and designed by the Detroit architectural firm of Weston and Ellington. A year later, its famous neighbor across Kirby, the Detroit Institute of Arts, would open. Accented by architectural sculptures by Corrado Parducci, the Wardell featured the latest in amenities, and its Green Room restaurant was a destination. A vintage postcard boasted: “The Wardell Apartment Hotel: The Best Home Address in Detroit.” The building was named after owner Fred Wardell, who founded the Detroit-based Eureka Vacuum Cleaner Co. in 1909. The Wardell was temporary digs to a host of visitors, including entertainers Bob Hope, George Burns, and Gracie Allen. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo also lived at the Wardell in the early 1930s when Rivera was creating the Detroit Industry frescoes at the DIA. In the 1940s, Sheraton Hotels bought the edifice and renamed it the Wardell-Sheraton. It was rechristened the Park Shelton in the 1950s. The Park Shelton was renovated in 2004 and converted into 227 condo units, with shops and restaurants at street level. The Green Room’s food “destination” mantle now falls to Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails, which is slated to open this spring.

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