Baptist Church

img_5723-copy3I’m sad to report that we got caught trespassing at this location by the property owners. Luckily we got caught on our way OUT and we were only scolded (not detained). Once they saw that we were only there to take pictures and not to cause problems or destroy anything they let us go with no incident. Now don’t get me wrong…they were still not happy that we were there, but they let us go with a few words and an evil eye or two lol.

Now before we got caught…whilst we were exploring, I must say that my favorite parts of this explore were all downstairs. The main floor which housed the church was not interesting to photograph [to me] at all 😦 Now that I think about it, it’s probably because it was still in good condition with the exception of a few broken chairs. I prefer large amounts of peely paint crumbling walls which give a structure “character” and tell a story 🙂

The basement was definitely neglected and smelled of mildew from years of rain water accumulating and seeping into the walls and foundation. The remnants of the boxing ring were still there and I was able to get a really good shot of the ropes, laying on the wood floor. The basement also housed classrooms, with a few desks, chairs and books scattered around. A few of the rooms had windows covered with delicate sheer curtains, in lavender, lime green/yellow and turquoise.

Now for a word to the wise… I have learned that we were not the only explorers to get caught/run out of this location within the past few months. The property owners are very actively around, all the time. Apparently the auditorium right across the street (which is owned by the church) is still in use. Coincidentally the day we explored, there was some type of meeting being held there. Which is why we most likely got caught. I highly recommend NOT trying to explore this location without permission.

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LOCATION HISTORY:
In the early 1920’s, Detroit had several dozen Baptist churches scattered around the city. One of the largest was a thriving congregation in a Northwest neighborhood of Detroit. It was during this time that the Baptist faith in Detroit started to take hold, as white southerners were drawn to the city in large numbers by the high wages offered by the auto industry.

Construction of the Gothic-styled church building began in 1915, concluding in 1920. Originally built for another, more conservative Baptist church, it would later become home to a Missionary Baptist Church, where Malcolm X message delivered his famous, “Message for the Grass Roots”, where he called for a violent “black revolution”, the building boasted a main floor which provided an auditorium with a capacity of 1,300, included many rooms, such as robing rooms, baptistery, study, library, organ loft, and choir. The basement was equipped to fulfill the needs of a modern church organization containing a complete gymnasium, shower baths, a banquet hall and kitchen. In 1937, shortly after Temple Baptist moved in, an Art Deco-styled auditorium was completed across the street from the church. Like many churches, it was home to a corner pharmacy which helped pay off the construction bonds of the building and to help cover future maintenance costs.

Temple Baptist was a conservative, pro-segregationist church that [originally] barred African Americans from attending and at its peak, boasted a congregation of 5,000 members. Eventually the black community began to dominate the demographics in the Northwest neighborhood, Temple Baptist relocated to a large facility on a side of town where there was a sizable white population. However, the new neighborhood [also] became mixed demographically and Temple Baptist once again relocated. In September 1985, the deacons of the church voted 29 to 7 to end the anti-black policy of the church, allowing them membership. The 9,500-member congregation was informed of the decision and as expected, there was much resistance. Ultimately the church lost 90% of its members. Temple Baptist Church moved out of the building in 1951.

King Solomon Baptist Church, originally located on Delmar Street, relocated in 1952 to the former home of Temple Baptist after it had moved out of the city. It was the first African American church in the city to be located on a major thoroughfare. The basement served as a youth boxing center and held youth activities that included roller skating and dances. The auditorium across the street soon became a popular venue for influential black leaders, and was where Malcolm X delivered his “Message for the Grass Roots”, where he attacked the non-violent civil rights movement an called for a violent “black revolution.” In his speech, he noted that Black Americans had a common enemy: white people. The church was also host to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall, who was the chief council for the NAACP and later appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Johnson.

Many houses on the street and surrounding area became abandoned, eventually succumbing to arson and demolition, leaving large gaps in the neighborhood and population. By the end of its existence, King Solomon Baptist church had fewer than 100 members. Unable to pay electrical bills, the church was heated by propane gas and powered by a generator. The original 1917 church building, which had been used as an education and recreation center closed around 1999 and has been vacant since. On March 22, 2011, the importance of the now-decaying Temple Baptist / King Solomon Church building was recognized when the Detroit City Council awarded it historic designation in 2011. Though there are no plans to reopen the church, it will hopefully follow the course of the city as it rises again and find a new use.

Here are a few of my favorite photographs from this location:

Lee Plaza Hotel (Part II)

This is my second visit to what remains of the once majestic Lee Plaza Hotel. As always, I was happy to see that it was still standing, but saddened to see that more destruction has occurred since my last visit in late 2013.  Sometimes it baffles me that people feel the need to be destructive :/  I love this building…and this trip I was fortunate to find a lot more furniture than before, which is always awesome!

I find this building to be absolutely beautiful and I feel a slight sense of peace and reverence as I walk down the hallways (stepping on top of and over tons and tons of broken concrete, pieces of broken doors and other assorted debris).  Now don’t get me wrong, it’s scary – for a few different reasons!  One of the reasons is the creepy sound the wind makes (which gets stronger the higher you go up) as it billows in and out of every single window frame, making hanging debris clang together.  It’s almost like a spooky wind tunnel lol. The other reason is because if something were to happen to you inside of this building (i.e. you were attacked, you hurt yourself, etc), NOBODY WOULD KNOW so NOBODY WOULD COME TO HELP!  So needless to say, it’s safe to explore with a buddy, keep quiet when possible (respect your surroundings) and don’t lag…meaning – get in, shoot, get out.  I hope you enjoy this latest round of pics from the infamous Lee Plaza.

@FilthyBean

LOCATION HISTORY:

Built in 1929 as an upscale residential hotel, closed it’s doors to residents in 1997.  During the final years of the 19th century, society’s view of hotel life transformed from one of disgust and disdain to admiration. No longer the abode of the damned, they were, where one went, for all manner of functions. By the early 20th century it was actually fashionable to reside permanently in hotels. Thus it seems natural that hotels would be built specially for residents. Such was the case with the this hotel. Essentially an apartment building with hotel services. On May 1 (circa 1928), ground was broken on the art deco masterpiece that would rise above the stately elms of the boulevard below. The price tag would be $2.5 million (a whopping $31 million today). The idea of residential hotels was a popular one at the time. In residential hotels, well-off residents could live in luxurious apartments that had many of the features of hotels, such as room service and concierges.

The hotel opened with 220 luxury-class apartments ranging from one to four rooms. The one and two-room apartments came furnished; the three- and four-room option did not. The basement had a beauty parlor, a game room with driving nets for golfers and billiards; a white-walled playroom for children at the front of the building with a specially trained supervisor; and a meat market and grocer for the tenants so they didn’t have to leave the hotels comfy confines. There also was a circulating library, a flower shop, a cigar stand and a beauty parlor.

But with the onset of the Great Depression, the hotel was plagued by problems almost from the start because of the owner’s lavish spending. The hotel would help bring down one of Detroit’s biggest real estate barons. Shortly after it was built, it was sold, however the new company/owner was delinquent on payments. By fall 1935 the hotel was bankrupt, and would be the subject of over 8yrs of court battles. In 1969 it became housing for low-income senior citizens. However, in February of 1987 tragedy struck when an 84-year-old resident was found murdered in her room, suffocated with a pillow. The hotel continued to lose residents and head downhill.

In 1997, its entrances and ground-floor windows were barricaded with cinder blocks, but they couldn’t keep the scavengers at bay. For five years a solid fortification of cinder block held off the thieves and protected the 1920’s elegance inside. However, as the mighty walls of Rome failed, so did the hotel’s fortifications. Once the walls were breached, nothing could spare the landmark from trespass and from that point on, few buildings in Detroit have been more ravaged than this hotel. By the fall of 2000 countless exterior terra-cotta pieces as well as interior plaster work were gone. Gradually the aluminum framed windows disappeared and only gaping holes remained.

Nuclear Training School | Military Base

I have lost count of how many times I have ventured through this building. Much to my surprise, I see something new every time I visit. This can most likely be attributed to the fact that people are always “decorating” the walls (or what’s left of them) with new art work/graffiti…and of course because of a few dingbats that feel the need to destroy anything and everything they see, by smashing holes in walls, breaking what furniture remains and throwing things out of the windows to break them and just be stupid.

Now if you know me at all or have read any previous posts about locations I’ve been too, you’ve heard me say “I find it peaceful and humbling…” well that does most definitely NOT apply to this building lol. This building, as intriguing as it is, makes me very uncomfortable. I am not at ease, by any means, in this building. It kinda scares me…for a few different reasons. One of the reasons is the creepy sound the wind makes as it blows through every broken out window, making hanging debris clang together and door slam shut. It’s almost like a spooky wind tunnel lol.
The other reason is because if something were to happen to you inside of this building (i.e. you were attacked, you hurt yourself, etc), chances are that nobody would know, or help may come too late. So needless to say, it’s safe to explore with a buddy, keep quiet when possible. Not only because you’re not supposed to be there, but you need to be aware and not draw attention to yourself. Every floor has several rooms and hallways that display how the building is frequented by transients and drug users. It’s evident as you walk over torn out pages from pornography magazines, drug paraphernalia, dirty clothes, empty food cans and paper plates.

During one visit I observed a handful of guys making a music video lol, and during another visit, my sister and I were exploring the 3rd floor when we saw some stupid kids throwing a chair out of the window. This is not only dumb and disrespectful but it’s going to draw unwanted attention to the building. This property is heavily patrolled by security as many parts of it are still in use (by either the Navy or civilian businesses). We immediately left because we didn’t want to be associated with that at all.

Everyone non Urbex’r who is reading this – Please know that this is not how we behave. Many of us follow the unwritten code that we are to “leave nothing but footprints”. Meaning, we don’t take things, we don’t destroy, and we don’t leave garbage…we simply enter, shoot, leave. Simple as that. We leave the location, the same way we found it. Anyone who does not, is not a true Urban Explorer.

Helpful Tip: As always, be respectful of your surroundings and don’t lag…meaning – get in, shoot, get out. You could be invading someone’s “privacy” or sense of security and they may not like it. Or you can simply look vulnerable, by yourself, with expensive camera equipment.

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I couldn’t find much history on the building beside the fact that the facility was once a Navy Nuclear Power School that operated from January 1959 until 1977 when nuclear training was consolidated and moved to a Naval Base in Orlando, Florida. It is believed that from 1977 until its closure in the 90’s it served as a Training [Apprentice] Building / Re-Employment Center. The city acquired the building after the base closure in 1996 closure. The city’s abandoned buildings [on the base] consist of barracks, apartments, commissary, plus many other structures.

Nuclear Power School is a technical school operated by the U.S. Navy to train enlisted sailors, officers and civilians for shipboard nuclear power plant operation and maintenance of surface ships and submarines in the U.S. nuclear navy.

There are currently demolition & abatement plans for this building (and probably many others on the base). City officials say the buildings should be demolished as soon as possible but the $8 million is not available to pay for the work. Demolition was set to begin in September [2014], however I cannot confirm if it has begun as I have not visited the site since the beginning of the year.

As far as I know, it is still the same old intimidating building 🙂
Here are a few pics from my many visits to this location…