Today’s look at the history of Detroit’s Lafayette Park comes in the form of an October 1961 newsletter. That’s from right around the time this urban renewal project was born.
Now that we know the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will auction Lafayette Towers in two weeks, it’s poignant to read a record from its origins. This newsletter states more than 130 of the 186 townhouses and courthouses in the complex were purchased or rented and “groundbreaking ceremonies were held on Oct. 27 for Lafayette Towers, in the southeast corner. Plans for the two Towers include a shopping center, and, it says here, [sic] a swimming pool.” Anyone who can stomach an estimated $10 million in repairs can have it all now in 2012.
"The Lafayette Sporadic," as this newsletter was called, was put out by the Lafayette Park Community Association, which at its first meeting created a constitution "after much debate, commentary and nitpicking," according to the newsletter.
As with newer editions of the community’s newsletter, there are random editorial gems. For example, residents are instructed to visit the Saturday farmers’ market:
"Take a basket to fill with fat and ruddy fruits and vegetables or bright zinnias and marigolds, all at low prices," it says, adding, "the colors, noise, confusion, and masses of people combine to create a wonderfully rich and gaudy scene. The concensus [sic] among old-time market shoppers is that noontime is best; and you might stop first at Samuel’s on Russell St., or the Roma Cafe, at the north end of the market, or at the Butcher’s Inn on Winder St., for beer and lunch first."
This bulletin also notes “internationally famous woodcutter” Irving Amen would have a show sponsored by “25 art-conscious Lafayette Park families” at the Galerie Galaxie on 132 Madison. Why Amen would be called a woodcutter is puzzling, considering the wealth of media he used in his career. But we suppose this newsletter’s editor was in no position to Google the artist.
Today’s newsletter page, along with other bits of information we will present through July, are courtesy of Betty Brown and the publication, “Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies,” 2012. If you would like to share ephemera from Lafayette Park, send us a copy at email@example.com.
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