Detroit Sound Conservancy seeks volunteers to help salvage Detroit jazz history

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COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo

A group dedicated to preserving Detroit music history is attempting to salvage the last remaining artifacts from Detroit's Graystone Ballroom.

Before the long-abandoned club was demolished in 1980, admirers formed the Graystone International Jazz Museum, which recovered photographs, paperwork, and other artifacts from the ballroom. Today, many of those items are stored in downtown's Book Building — the museum's last location — which now face destruction due to to impending redevelopment at the Book. 

The Detroit Sound Conservancy is gearing up to salvage those materials from the Book, intended for an ultimate destination as part of a new DSC museum. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 7 and July 8 they will remove the items from the Book in downtown Detroit and take inventory. Anyone interested in helping out is advised to contact (occasional MT contributor) Carleton S. Gholz by calling 313-444-8242 or dropping him an email. The group is also accepting donations.

When it opened in 1922, the Graystone was the city's largest ballroom, able to accommodate 3,000 guests. In its heyday, the club hosted the likes of Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Count Basie.

As jazz and ballroom dancing went out of style, the venue switched ownership to Motown's Berry Gordy in 1963, who hosted his own Motown acts at the venue. But as Motown took off, the venue became abandoned and was demolished in 1980.

Learn more about the Graystone — and check out archival photos of its heyday — here.




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