1898 William W. Hannan purchased property at the corner
of Grand River Avenue and Madison Avenue, a two-way
thoroughfare with wide building setbacks. Located
north of Harmonie Park, this location was an elegant
setting for the hotel he proposed to build in 1900.
Completed in 1901, the Madison Hotel
was a high-class residential and semi-transient hotel.
It was advertised as a high-class apartment building
with features including an elevator man, cafe, and
variety of suites. Designed by A.C. Varney, the building
was red brick with arched entries, quoins at the corners
and a rusticated base.
The Lenox was added in 1904 along with
a restaurant situated between the two towers. The
Lenox shared massing and some stylistic features with
the earlier Madison but was more elaborate with an
ornate carved stone entry. The two buildings were
connected and operated as the Hotels Madison-Lenox.
Like its competition, the Madison-Lenox
was renovated in 1955 with a sleek modern look. The
interior was given a white, black, red, and gold color
scheme featuring limed oak pillars. The entrances
were treated with smooth marble with aluminum doors.
Despite the effort the building attracted low income
tenants throughout the 1960s and gradually the building
declined. The hotel closed for good in 1993.
Vandals descended on the hotel and over
time much of the scrap metal and windows were removed.
The building deteriorated rapidly and by 2003 the
city was prepared to provide its owner, Mike Ilitch
with a $700,000 loan to replace it with a landscaped
Preservationists rallied to the hotel's
cause. Groups like the Friends of the Book-Cadillac
and Preservation Wayne were able to successfully ward
off demolition for several years. In 2004 the hotel
was included in the National Trust for Historic Preservation's
11 Most Endangered list.
Determined to be rid of the building
prior to the 2005 All Star Game and unable to properly
obtain a demolition permit, city demolition crews
arrived at the hotel on the morning of May 18th, 2005
and started to tear holes into both towers and completely
level the central restaurant. The City claimed that
the building was due to collapse at any moment, despite
the lack of such evidence being a key reason they
were not able to previously get the OK for the Historic
District Commission. Unfortunately the damage had
been done and within a week all that remained of one
of the downtown area's oldest commercial buildings
was a heap of rubble.