July 27, 2021


Lee Plaza, Detroit – The abandoned hotel


Lee Plaza

Much of the city of Detroit is a dystopian wasteland of abandoned structures. According to the White House Blight Task Force, some 80,000 buildings sit empty in the city. One of the most magnificent and eerie is the Lee Plaza, a 15-story art deco behemoth built in 1929. This residential hotel was a marvel for its time, designed so that tenants never had to leave. The Lee contained a library, a daycare, a beauty parlor, a grocer, and even a netted driving range, among other amenities. The lobby was exquisitely appointed with fine woods, marble, and beautiful frescoes.

As the fortunes of the Motor City waned, so did those of Lee Plaza. The property was too exorbitant for its own good and frequently switched hands during its history. In the late 1960s, it became a home for low-income senior citizens, but problems continued to plague the building, including the murder of one of its elderly residents. It was finally closed in 1997.

The exterior entrances and ground floor windows have been bricked up and the panes of the upper windows have all been removed, leaving the brutal Michigan winds to howl through the structure throughout the year. Vandals soon made their way inside and the ornate lobby area and ballroom have been thoroughly demolished, featuring an overturned piano, cracked marble, and derelict 1970s-era furniture. Someone even managed to strip the copper from the roof. Lee Plaza seems to be an ideal candidate for razing to the ground, but it is actually on the National Register of Historic Places.