A Grande Opening 1928 – Burns Shoes – Web exclusive

In The Grande Ballroom – Detroit’s Rock n Roll Palace there were a few stories that did not make the final edit. So too were some great newsprint images that did not make the final. One such story that is tied to the original Grande building opening month of 1928 was that of Burns Shoes, one of the charter merchants. Burns’ flagship store was located at Grand River and Griswold in the Holden building. The store at Grand River and Beverly was their Northwestern chain expansion and fourth location. This location featured a very narrow “L” shape with minimal frontage on both streets, skirting the perimeter of the corner drug store. A main floor plus a children’s department in the basement was packed floor to ceiling with shoes. A.E. Burns spared no expense in advertising their grand opening buying a multiple page “Burns Section” published in the back of the Detroit Free Press.


Detroit Free Press October 19, 1928

“Joy Road Zone Spreads Fast”

 Burns Shoe Store finds it Necessary to Establish New Store at Grand River.

At the intersection of Joy Road and Grand River is probably the fastest-growing shopping center in the city of Detroit, according to an explanation advanced Saturday by officials of the Burns Shoe company. Nine large downtown retails stores, serving the city at large, have established branch stores here in recent months.Practically every article of merchandise necessary in maintaining a home and equipping a family is represented in these branches. There is a branch candy and baked goods store; a branch jewelry store, shoe store, lingerie stores, music and radio store; and a branch of a popular downtown 5c to $1.00 store.

Lots of other stores

In addition, there is one of the best equipped markets in the city here. Two theaters offer high grade entertainment, There is a school of music. School of dancing, Two ballrooms and a large recreation building. Seven branches of downtown banks have been built here for the convenience of residents in this Grand River and Joy road area. And there are many specialty stores, which, added to the rest, make it possible to purchase practically anything in this new shopping center, it was explained.

“We have selected a location for our new branch store which will enable this company to better serve the people of Detroit,” said one official. “It is practically within sight of the intersection and it fronts on both Grand River and Beverly Court. It is,to all purposes a replica of our downtown store, having a basement in which the more popular-priced footwear is featured.”



A.E. Burns Shoes – Grand River entrance


Ornate children’s basement department looking south up the Grand River stairs.


Main floor and staircase looking in from Grand River entrance. Rear stock wall to Beverly Street is visible.


2016 Inspection team passes Grand River Burns staircase to rear of building.


Store 5 (Burns Shoes) Store 6 Economical Drugs (Cunninghams) Blueprint

Store 5 (Burns Shoes) Store 6 Economical Drugs (Cunninghams) Blueprint


Flagship Store

The Holden building was completed in 1916 and became A.E. Burns’ flagship store. Today it is owned by Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Real Estate Services and is home to the Detroit Institute of Music Education or DIME.



Burns Shoes at the Holden Building October 1928


Detroit Institute of Music Education (Holden Building)


For more, Get the book at AMAZON

Photos courtesy the Detroit Free Press and DIME


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