Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Agree, Charles

Charles Agree was an architect who designed iconic buildings in the Detroit area from the 1920s through the 1960s. Agree was born in Stamford, Connecticut in 1897 and moved with his family to Detroit, Michigan in 1909 at the age of 12. Two years after graduating from the Detroit Y.M.C.A. Technical School in 1917, Agree opened his own firm, Charles N. Agree, Inc., in the Book Building. His first major commission came in 1921 when he was chosen to design the Whittier Hotel, which is famous for hosting the Beatles during their 1964 appearance at Olympia Stadium in Detroit.

Agree’s designs for the Grande Ballroom in 1928, and its east side sister the Vanity Ballroom in 1929, paved the way for other theater work in various Detroit neighborhoods. The lush ornamentation and textures of the Vanity Ballroom provide an excellent example of Art Deco style, featuring copper and plaster cornice and sash, marble wrought iron grilles, and terrazzo floors. He designed numerous theaters including the Beverly, Westown, Palmer Park, Dearborn, and Harper (now Harpo’s). The largest and most expensive of Agree’s theater designs was the lavish Hollywood Theater in Southwest Detroit, built in 1927 in the Spanish Renaissance style at a cost of $2 million.

Agree’s other major projects in the Detroit area include the Belcrest Apartments, the Holden Reptile Building at the Detroit Zoo, many Cunningham’s Drug Store locations, Winkelman’s and Federal’s department stores, and several malls including Oakland Mall. The Whittier Hotel, Vanity Ballroom, and Belcrest Apartments are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Agree lived in the Boston-Edison neighborhood and was a noted philanthropist in the Detroit area all of his life, until his passing in 1982.



Vanity Ballroom, 1975

View all items related to Charles Agree