April 19, 2015
Rudolph Wurlitzer came to the United States in 1853. His family had been in the music instrument business in Europe since 1659, so it was only natural that Rudolph would start a company that was soon the largest distributor of musical instruments in the county. He began to manufacture pianos that were sold through retailers.
When silent movies became a major industry, Wurlitzer began to build theater organs that were reputed to be the biggest, the best, and the clearest sounding organs. Even today, the reputation of "The Mighty Wurlitzer" is known around the world. Wurlitzer would go on to manufacture phonograph equipment and a very popular line of jukeboxes.
The Wurlitzer Building went up in 1926, a Renaissance Revival, 14 story skyscraper. According to Historic Detroit, the building was built with a Terra Cotta fašade, granite trim and ornamental ironwork. The name, "Wurlitzer Building" was built into the fašade with black Terra Cotta.
Wurlitzer moved out of the building in the 70s, and things pretty much started to go downhill from there. It has been standing empty, with time, elements and vandals all taking a toll on the building.
But it appears that the old gem is about to receive a new lease on life. It has been purchased by New York development company Ash NYC, which plans to turn it into a 100 room boutique hotel with a sidewalk cafe and a rooftop lounge. The estimate for the renovation is over $20 million. The project is projected to be completed in late 2016.
Link: SOLD: Empty Wurlitzer Building Books $20M Hotel Rehab. The site is called Curbed Detroit.