Project Description

The University Club was built in 1931 at 1411 East Jefferson Avenue, near the intersection of Rivard Street, on the eastern outskirts of downtown Detroit. The University Club was designed in Collegiate Gothic style by architect, William Knapp, of the Detroit architectural firm of Smith, Hinchman and Grylls. The University Club was a fraternal organization where the city’s educated men could go to hang out and network. The main requirements of membership into the University Club, was that you had to be a man and you had to have graduated from a university or college.

The University Club was a three-story, brick structure with an unmatched, extravagant interior. The University Club featured squash courts, racquet ball courts, a bar/restaurant, a library, a ballroom, and more than two-dozen residential bedrooms for any members that want to stay the night. The University Club also featured intricate stone, mahogany, glass, and tiled detail throughout the entire building. On the interior, above the main entrance of the University Club, the fraternity’s flag was carved into stone and was proudly on display. The ballroom had beautiful glass chandeliers that once hung down from the wood-beamed ceiling. The main staircase leading up also featured beautiful, mahogany-wood, detail. The University Club was truly one of Detroit’s most prominent buildings.

The University Club changed it’s membership policy over the years and this was eventually the catalyst that led to the University Club’s downfall. Membership at the University Club continued to decline through the years and had to file bankruptcy in 1992. Detroit’s Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) operated out of the former University Club until 2008. With the Boll Family YMCA that had opened up in downtown Detroit and the high upkeep costs of the near-one hundred year-old building, the YMCA was forced to close it’s doors in 2008.

The former University Club was sold in 2010 to the owner of a nearby liquor store. The University Club was demolished in 2013.

 

The University Club in 2008-2009:

 

The University Club in 2012:

 

The University Club in 2013: