Project Description

The Salvation Army Harbor Light Building was built in 1924 and was originally the Park Avenue Hotel, as it was a luxury hotel, located at 2643 Park Avenue.  It was located on Park Avenue, between Sproat Street and Sibley Street, in Detroit’s notorious Cass Corridor neighborhood.  The Park Avenue Hotel was a 13-story structure, designed in an Italian Renaissance style, by noted-Detroit architect Louis Kamper.  The Park Avenue Hotel was a huge success and a leading choice for people looking to stay in a Detroit hotel.  By the 1960’s, the Park Avenue Hotel’s business began to decline.  The neighborhood where the Park Avenue Hotel was located started to have crime and drug use.  Most people that wanted to stay in a hotel in Detroit, went downtown.  The Hotel Park Avenue was not located directly downtown, so his was another reason why business began to slow down.

In 1957, the Salvation Army purchased the Park Avenue Hotel and changed the building from a luxury hotel, into a luxury senior citizen’s home, known as The Eventide Residence.  The Eventide Residence was sought by many of the senior citizens that still wanted to live near downtown Detroit.

In the 1980’s, the Cass Corridor neighborhood that the Eventide Residence was located was becoming infested with violence, alcohol, poverty, crime, prostitution, homelessness, and drugs.  The Eventide Residence was directly in the middle of it all and many of the senior citizen’s began to leave and they also had a hard time getting new residents to move in.  The Salvation saw more of a need for substance abuse treatment and a homeless shelter.  The Salvation Army moved all of the senior citizens out of the building and housed them in their other housing programs.  The building then was renovated and became a substance abuse treatment center, known as Harbor Light.

The Salvation Army Harbor Light was opened in 1986.  When Harbor Light opened, it was the largest substance abuse treatment center in the country.  Despite the Salvation Army being a very successful agency that helps millions of people, Detroit’s Harbor Light struggled for many years.  There main reasons were because of the location and the building costs.  Harbor Light served as a “beacon of hope” in a blighted neighborhood, but it eventually became a product of the environment.  Harbor Light’s structure was also getting older and the maintenance costs were sky-high.  The building eventually became to expensive to operate and Harbor Light was moved to a brand new location in 2003.  The Salvation Army moved Harbor Light to the current “Acres of Hope” site at 3737 Lawton Street, on Detroit’s west side.

The Salvation Army closed Harbor Light in 2003.  The building has been abandoned ever since.  The old apartments that used to be connected to Harbor Light were demolished in 2008, but the 13-story, towering structure remained until 2015.

The Park Avenue Hotel was demolished by implosion on July 11, 2015. Scroll down to see photos of the demolition.