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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Leo Early Book Signing @ Briarwood “Art is in Market” 10-30

I’ll be signing copies of “The Grande Ballroom – Detroit’s Rock n Roll Palace” Sunday October 30 From 1-4 P.M. at Briarwood Mall. “Art is in Market” is a very cool “Detroit-centric” shop with some great works by local artists and creatives. Shop local!


Art is in Market


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Leo Early Book Signing @ Twelve Oaks “Art is in Market” 10-23

I’ll be signing copies of “The Grande Ballroom – Detroit’s Rock n Roll Palace” Sunday October 23 From 1-4 P.M. Art is in Market is a very cool “Detroit-centric” shop with some great works by local artists and creatives. Shop local! http://www.shoptwelveoaks.com/directory/art-is-in-market_north



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October 5, 2016 Grande Ballroom Inspection

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.”




Archaeological documentation. Photo: WSU

“Although reports and test results are not in yet, it is very unlikely asbestos was used in the Grande’s construction.”


The Grande Ballroom October 5, 2016 Photo: WSU


Friends of the Grande, Preservation Detroit and Wayne State stars!

“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:

CHMBC Grande Press Release 10-21-16

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Author Leo Early at Partridge Creek Mall “Art is in Market” October 16

Join me at The Mall at Partridge Creek’s “Art is in Market” where I’ll be signing copies of “The Grande Ballroom – Detroit’s Rock n Roll Palace” Sunday October 16th from 1-4 pm!

The Mall at Partridge Creek  17420 Hall Road Clinton Township, MI 48038



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Author Leo Early At Detroit Sound Conservancy Conference Saturday Oct. 15

detroitsound3-poster-4-oct-2016-72pixLeo Early at Detroit Sound Conservancy 3rd Annual Music Conference

Sound scholars unite for two days / three events dedicated to Detroit’s musical legacies

Detroit, MI: The Detroit Sound Conservancy (DSC), a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the region’s sonic heritage, will host its 3rd Annual Conference on Saturday, October 15, 2016 in Detroit from 9 am to 6 pm. The all day event will be free and open to the public. A Fundraising Concert will follow in the evening and a Remembrance Ceremony on Sunday.

This year’s conference will be presented by Lawrence Technological University and the Detroit Center for Design and Technology (DCDT) (4219 Woodward). “The DCDT prides itself on aligning with local initiatives, programs and organizations who look to foster and expand the role that art and design play among the local community, growing industry and educational pedagogy,” says Karl Daubmann, DCDT Interim Executive Director. “With the DSC’s history of working towards increased awareness of Detroit’s musical heritage, along with their efforts in advocacy, preservation and education in the local community, the DCDT is proud to support our neighborhood partner in their endeavors to reinvigorate Detroit’s ever present musical culture.”

10:00 – 11:15: Panel 1, Gallery

Alyssa Mehnert, A Constant Stream of Requests: McKinney’s Cotton Pickers on the Radio 1927–1931
Veronica Johnson, What About Us? Community Archiving and Documenting the Legacy of Detroit Female Jazz Musicians
Marsha Music, On Land of the Blues
Leo Early, “Tuning the Grande Ballroom”


Location: We are going to be at the Lawrence Tech Detroit Center, 4219 Woodward

Parking: free street parking on Willis, west of Woodward Ave.

Parking garage near Great Lakes Coffee, 25 W. Alexandrine St., all day is $5

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Grande Ballroom 50th Anniversary – History Bus Tour w/Photos

This gallery contains 17 photos.

In remembrance of the 50th Anniversary of the Rock n Roll re-opening of the Grande Ballroom, author Leo Early led a group of 35 Grande fans on a music history tour of downriver and the west side of Detroit. On … Continue reading

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WKNR Top Hits for October 3, 1966 – Grande @50


You Tube WKNR Top 13 Playlist curated by Leo Early



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The Grande Ballroom Dodges Hurricane Matthew

As The Grande Ballroom Detroit’s Rock n Roll Palace continues to storm up the online sales charts I’ve received news from my publisher Arcadia\History Press in Charleston, South Carolina. They are meeting all orders for the book from retailers and yours truly before evacuating the city! This means there will be virtually no interruption in online orders or, if you are coming to the Grande 50th celebration, I personally will have a copy for you. History Press for the Win!




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Ann Delisi WDET – Leo Early Grande Interview audio

If you didn’t catch it live on September 24, listen below to my interview with the lovely, super cool and knowledgeable radio host and Deejay Ann Delisi.  Then, if you enjoy Ann Delisi’s Essential Music on WDET as I do, be sure to kick them a few bucks via the support link below. #thegrande



Support WDET 

For more.. get the book!


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