Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Book-Cadillac Hotel

The Book-Cadillac Hotel, now called the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel, is a historic building located on Washington Boulevard in downtown Detroit. Brothers J. Burgess Jr., Herbert, and Frank Book, Detroit-born entrepreneurs and real estate developers, believed a fine hotel would make Washington Boulevard “the Fifth Avenue of the Midwest.” In 1918, the Book brothers purchased the Cadillac Hotel at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Michigan Avenue and operated it until 1923 when they finalized their plans for grander hotel. They commissioned local architect Louis Kamper, who also designed the Book Building and Tower, for the project.

Kamper designed the Book-Cadillac Hotel in the Italian Renaissance style with Venetian decoration, topped on each corner by ziggurats of Mesopotamian and Egyptian influence. He adorned the Michigan Avenue entrance with statues of figures from Detroit’s early history including General Anthony Wayne, Chief Pontiac, and Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac.

When it opened on December 8, 1924, the hotel was the tallest building in the city and the tallest hotel in the world. The thirty-three-story building included 1,136 rooms, each with a bath; facilities for the growing convention business; and a WCX radio (the predecessor to WJR) broadcast station. The hotel’s most elegant features were its ballrooms, the most stunning being the Italian Garden. This glass-ceilinged room was designed to give guests the feeling of standing in the garden of an Italian villa by employing special lighting and sound devices that could simulate sunshine, clouds, and thunderstorms in ever-changing display. The hotel operated successfully until 1931 when the Book brothers lost control of the property due to financial difficulties brought on by the Great Depression.

Ownership of the building changed hands numerous times throughout the next five decades. A 1984 plan to renovate the building and create a mixed-use space was ultimately scrapped due to Detroit’s tough economic climate and the hotel was closed and sat empty for nearly two decades despite the fact that in 1982 the Washington Boulevard Historic District, which included the Book Cadillac Hotel, had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In June 2006, a renovation plan was announced by the Cleveland-based Ferchill Group to turn the Book-Cadillac Hotel into a 453-room Westin hotel with 67 condominium units. After a nearly $200 million renovation, the hotel reopened in October 2008 as the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel. In 2009, the Ferchill Group and its partners received an Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation for their restoration of the hotel.



Book-Cadillac Postcard, 1924

Book-Cadillac Photograph, 1927

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