The Grande Ballroom has been nationally recognized as a historic site.
After a final effort from supporters in September, the former rock ‘n’ roll hub at Grand River Avenue and Joy Road was added to the National Register of Historic Places last week.
Nabbing the designation will help the property qualify for tax credits and grants. Leo Early, who pushed for the listing alongside the building’s owner, Chapel Hill Missionary Baptist Church, said that next steps include reviewing the results of a structural integrity report and drawing up plans for the building’s use.
“It’s awesome. … Being on the list itself doesn’t really offer protection, but it’s definitely an asset for seeking funding or grants or things of that nature,” Early said.
The arduous process has been in the works for about a decade. Supporters first had to secure approval with advisory agencies in Detroit and Lansing earlier this fall before making the national list on Dec. 10.
The National Park Service oversees the registry.
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Early’s connection to the property came from authoring “The Grande Ballroom: Detroit’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Palace,” a 2016 book that captured the site’s history.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the venue hosted national stars like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the Who, as well as locals like MC5, the Stooges and Alice Cooper. A 2012 documentary “Louder Than Love” chronicled the site’s fame, and in October, a new 2,000-square-foot mural was painted on the building’s west side to pay homage to MC5.
But the building fell into disrepair in the 1980s, and Chapel Hill bought it out more than 10 years ago. The new designation could help get the site back on track.
That could go in myriad directions depending on the viability of the building, Early said. With the recent announcement of funding for the nearby Livernois corridor, Early would like to see the building become a “keystone property” that anchors the neighborhood.
“Something combined with the space, serving as a community space, weddings on the second floor — something to kind of attach that neighborhood with what’s going on further up Grand River,” Early said.
The church would have to sign off on any plans, but leaders are amenable to providing secular community space, he added. And it all depends on the integrity of the building and what needs to be done structurally.
But for now, Early’s relieved that the 10-year effort came together.
“We’re hopeful,” Early said.