Hotel Statler: 1000 rooms, 1000 baths
The Statler in photos
The Decline: 1959-1975

The Statler HiltonIn 1963 Hilton begins a massive renovation program to modernize the Statler Hilton and make it more compatible with other Hilton hotels. The renovations begin with the removal of the famous Statler Terrace Room and Lounge Bar. These are replaced with three new eateries, the Trophy Room, Candlelight Room, and Surrey Room. They are soon after renamed Beef Barron, Coffee House, and Silver Dollar Buffet, respectively.

The renovations continue along the ground floor with the retail arcade getting a modern treatment. The spacious lobbies are cut down to one floor and redecorated in the modern style. The new space on the mezzanine is given over to meeting rooms referred to as the Hilton Rooms. The Cafe Rouge suffers a similar fate with its ground floor space becoming Trader Vic's, a Polynesian restaurant. Like the lobby its upper space is turned into meeting rooms. They are called the Statler Rooms.

The renovations include the redecorating of the guest room floors. The former sample rooms on the 16th and 17th floors are redone into the Hilton Towers, a 'hotel within a hotel' concept. They offer superior accommodations at a price. A VIP elevator to these floors is installed.

The renovations are successful in modernizing the hotel but will not be enough to combat looming dangers. By the late sixties hotels nationwide are losing the valuable tourist trade to new roadside motels. A declining neighborhood only complicates matters.


The Detroit Hilton in 1971The Detroit Hilton Limited Partnership, a group of 26 local investors headed by Southfield lawyer and financier Fred Gordon, purchases the Statler Hilton from Hilton Hotels Corp. for $7.2 million. The DHLP holds a equity of $1.5 million on the hotel while Hilton continues to hold a $6.2 million mortgage on the property.

The hotel continues under Hilton management but is renamed the Detroit Hilton.


The hotel is again renamed. This time it is the Detroit Heritage Hotel. Hilton ceases its management of the hotel though it still holds onto the $6.2 million mortgage.

Occupancy continues to decline at a dramatic rate. The Heritage is no longer able to pay its property and school taxes nor can it pay its utility bills.

June-July 1975

June 30th brings devastating news for the Heritage and Detroit. With occupancy falling to a staggering 20 percent the hotel has been unable to pay its utility bills. Detroit-Edison threatens to discontinue electric and steam service until payment is made. This threat is withdrawn as a rescue package is drafted.

Mayor Coleman Young and Robert Holmes, president of Teamsters Local 337 and a vice president of the international union, fly to La Costa, California in July to ask the Teamsters Union Central States Pension Fund for a $475,000 loan to help keep the Heritage in operation. It is part of a $950,000 rescue package provided by six local banks and loan organizations.

September 1975

The Heritage in October of 1975.The Heritage gets a dose of good news when the Teamsters Union Central States Pension Fund approves the $475,000 loan requested by Mayor Young and Robert Holmes.

However, this loan falls through when Metropolitan Savings refuses to participate with the Teamsters. The six Detroit banks then fall into a disagreement over their share of the $950,000 total loan. The near million dollar package intended to help the Heritage pay off its debts and make some improvements fails. Again the end looks to be near.

October 8, 1975

Detroit-Edison again threatens to cut off the hotel's utilities. Edison backs off when Muhammad Farouk Kahn, a Pakistani financier, announces plans to buy the Heritage for an undisclosed amount and wires a cash deposit on the hotel. This deposit would allow the Heritage to pay off its debts, then estimated to be $700,000.

However, the sale is dragged out as Kahn's funds get held up by the Bank of England

October 15, 1975

Muhammad Farouk Kahn's deposit still has not arrived. Fed up with the delays Detroit-Edison cuts off the Heritage's steam and electric service.

After over 60 years of operation the former Statler closes its doors to the public.

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Copyright 2001, David Kohrman
Last updated on 11-14-01