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Carlton Plaza Hotel

The Carlton Plaza was designed by Louis Kamper and built by the Bollin-McKinney Hotel Company, opening on May 31, 1924. A Free Press ad said, “Aristocratic in Appearance, Although Exceedingly Democratic in Price.” During the 1920s and 1930s, it became a go-to spot for jazz artists and affluent Black visitors. In particular, Della Reese was noticed for her singing there while working as a telephone operator.

A March 13, 1955 police raid on a party held in one of the hotel’s suites led to a court order to close the hotel as a site of “public nuisance,” to the shock of owner Edward Swan. Eventually, it was purchased, refurbished, and (temporarily) renamed the Capri Plaza by Arthur Cartwright, a leading Black hotel owner from the period. Its name was apparently changed back to the Carlton by 1960, when Jet magazine called it “the premier destination for the discriminating negro.”



“Carlton Plaza Hotel Has Informal Opening.” The Detroit Free Press. June 1, 1924, p. 7.

“Court May Close Carlton Plaza.” The Chicago Defender. Apr 30, 1955, p. 1.

“Group Gets New Hotel in Detroit.” The Atlanta Daily World. Sep 4, 1957, p. 2.

Lucas McGrail. “The Carlton.” HistoricDetroit.Org. Accessed 19 July 2020.

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