French fur trader Antoine De La Mothe Cadillac advocated establishing a settlement in the land later to be known as the state of Michigan and chose the narrowest point of the Detroit River to build Fort Pontchartrain. That was in 1701 and now that Ville d'Etroit, pronounced 'day-twah,' a French word meaning 'the strait,' has celebrated its 300th birthday, it becomes more vibrant with every passing day.
The New Cadillac Square Apartment Building began life as a hotel in February of 1927. It cost $3,750,000 to build and was advertised as an exceptionally modern facility with the latest equipment and amenities. The Barlum sported news and cigar stands, a beauty salon and barbershop, telephones and a full service restaurant in the basement. When it opened adjacent to business, financial, legal and theatrical districts, it was one of the tallest buildings in Detroit and sported 800 well appointed rooms. Admission to the grand opening was by ticket only. Radio station WGHP broadcast the performances of the Jules Klein Orchestra. Rates were $2.50 to $4.00 and each room boasted of a bathroom with a tub and shower. The Barlum was a favorite haven on the Vaudeville circuit for many show people. It once housed 95 percent of the shows appearing at the Shubert and Cass Theaters and most of the ballets and symphonies that played at the Masonic Temple.
It was constructed under the auspices of the Cadillac Square Improvement Company run by John J. Barnum and his two brothers, Lewis P. and John P. along with former Mayor of Detroit William B. Thompson. H. W. Bonnah and W. C. Chaffee designed the Barlum with American architecture and Venetian touches. The steel frame was built in only 41 days. Numerous firms around Detroit helped construct it with expertise in heating & cooling, marble work, painting, decorating and more. A week after the grand opening, the ground was broken for nearby Barlum Tower, a forty story office building now known as Cadillac Tower. Barlum also built the Lawyers Building to help improve the Cadillac Square area.
John J. Barlum was born in Detroit on April 14, 1866; he was son of Thomas and Bridget (McNamara) Barlum. He was educated in the public schools of Detroit and married Jula M. Lewis in Detroit on April 26, 1893. He died September 18, 1940 and is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Barlum lost the hotel during the Depression and two different hotel groups unsuccessfully controlled it until the City of Detroit took it over in 1941 because of unpaid taxes. It was sold in 1942 to Henry C. Keywell for $540,000. In the late 1950s, he remodeled it and renamed the Henrose, which is a combination of his first name and the name of his wife, Rose. But Keywell had no better luck and it was taken over by the Teamsters Union Central States Southwest in 1963. The hotel was bought by a syndicate from Washington in 1964 and renamed the Embassy. Only seven months later, it reverted to the Teamsters fund due to the owners defaulting on their loan. November of 1966 found a Boston based group purchasing the hotel and they converted it to an apartment building. It reopened in April of 1967 with efficiency and studio units, gleaming kitchen appliances and more along with a new name: One Eleven Cadillac Square.
Various groups have owned the building in the intervening decades until P & B Investments, Inc. purchased the building in 1994. The New Cadillac Square Apartments have undergone extensive renovations including replacing the roof, boiler and installing new windows. There are new elevators and controls plus the lobby has been remodeled. The building is very well maintained. Once billed as Detroit's most convenient hotel, New Cadillac can provide the same central location in the heart of the city of Detroit. With friendly people and a dedicated staff, this charming apartment building can be your home while you explore everything Detroit has to offer and make the city your own!
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