On Wednesday October 5, 2016 a team of experts and students led by author Leo Early entered the Grande Ballroom. The purpose of the visit was to formally determine the viability of the property on behalf of its current owners, Chapel Hill Missionary Baptist Church.
Leo Early: “Joining us were representatives from ECM Construction, Preservation Detroit, The Detroit Sound Conservancy, and Professor Krysta Ryzewski and her students from Wayne State University’s Archaeology program. Teams documented the interior using a myriad of methods including Hi-definition still, video and 3D capture technologies. Engineers from ECM paid particular attention to the roof deck and the basement, which turned out to be relatively dry. A brilliantly sunny Indian Summer day with temperatures in the upper ’70’s worked to our advantage and stiff breezes helped tremendously with ventilation.”
Note: This visit was a fully sanctioned inspection authorized by the owners. It was planned over a period of months and all parties had the proper paperwork and clearance to enter. The Grande Ballroom is presently uninsured and NOT open to the public. Understand that under NO circumstances should anyone attempt to enter the building without permission. Anyone caught entering can and will be charged with trespassing as well as breaking and entering. Since our visit the owners have stepped up security and notified the Detroit Police Department for additional coverage.
“Thanks to legendary Grande impresario Russ Gibb we were able to share copies of the original Grande blueprints with everyone. These materials were especially useful to the students from Wayne State.”
“Although reports and test results are not in yet, it is very unlikely asbestos was used in the Grande’s construction.”
“When the Chapel Hill Missionary Baptist Church (CHMBC) first acquired the Grande 10 years ago they were uncertain if they would raze this building or renovate. In the years since the Church had yet to officially recognize the building’s historical significance. That is until December of 2015 when CHMBC conceded that the Ballroom did have significant historical value to generations of Detroiters. Thereafter Pastor Dr. R. Lamont Smith III asked that I assist their construction partners ECM construction in assessing the viability of the structure. Dr. Smith and I concur that should the building still be viable and a business case found, a renovated Grande could be a keystone property for a much larger neighborhood revitalization project.”
“Presently everyone is compiling reports and papers on the inspection. At some point in the near future there should be an official announcement regarding the Grande’s condition and any plans for the building. If the building proves viable it is conceivable that we will collect information on volunteers and those willing to contribute or raise funds for restoration. I will be acting as primary press contact for the Church in this regard and thegrandeballroom.com will serve to disseminate any official information.”
Here is CHMBC’s first press release concerning the Grande: