Monday, July 1, 2013

Demolition beginning on vintage building on Gratiot near 7 Mile

Yep. Roof-top forest and all - demolition crews are prepping the old Valente's building for tear down. The building was somewhat of a Gratiot landmark near 7 Mile Road on Detroit's east side, down the road from Assumption Grotto.  Valente's moved to Grosse Pointe in 1988 from what I can tell, and had been in business at that location since 1964.

Some weeks ago, I was showing Fr. Perrone's mother the trees on top as we stood at a light at Gratiot and 7 Mile Road. It's not uncommon in urban areas to see trees growing on the roofs of abandoned buildings.  There are many along the front and side of the Valente's building, but the one pictured below was the tallest.  Mrs. Perrone had never noticed it before, and got a good chuckle out of it after I brought it to her attention. It must have been growing there for years.  At least the nesting season is pretty well finished.

I'm on vacation this week and went to 7:30 AM Mass.  After having my morning cup of coffee in the Assumption Grotto Gift Shop and Cafe, and morning prayer, I hopped back in my car and headed home to continue working on my photo backlog (see my status update here).  Construction workers had so much prepped in that short time with all this heavy equipment moving in that I headed home for my camera and went back.  I had wanted to get some pics before it was gone, along with the trees that had been growing on top. I think tree roots were holding part of the roof together because I could see light coming through holes in the ceiling near the front as I drove by, but the central portion was one giant hole.

I figured someone would get killed as the building collapsed in on itself before the city took it down.  I used to worry about the homeless people I would sometimes see standing outside of the thing during cold weather.  Inside, clothes could be seen hanging on a rack as you drove by.  I don't know if there was a fire or what, but no one seemed to want those clothes and they were definitely not "formal wear."   The Detroit Funk Blog has pictures from the inside (scroll down through pics here and see discussion in com-box which is where I got the dates).  He was braver than I by actually going inside.  Though, the ceiling had not yet collapsed in his photos.  One of the workers invited me to take pictures of the inside, but I felt safer staying far away from the dilapidated structure.  I wasn't that desperate for photos.  I read elsewhere online that the building had demolition stickers on it at least as far back as 2006.  Back then, it was boarded up.

The artistry that went into these old buildings always captivates me when I see it.  No matter how fancy they try to make it with foam and other materials these days, you have to appreciate what they did back in the day for beauty.  While Valente's appears to have occupied that building from 1964 - 1988, this building must go back further than that.  I was trying to find some history online, or even vintage pictures of it when the economy was booming in that district, but didn't find any with Valente's.

I have a few more pictures here.

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