A City Rich With History
The city of Detroit is rich with history and the Shinola Hotel property is no exception. Explore the past of 1400 Woodward Avenue and enjoy everything the present has to offer.
In the early 1900s, the dawn of the automotive industry put Detroit at the center of the world. Downtown was bustling in a city that symbolized opportunity and the hope of the American dream. Iconic buildings were constructed all over the city, and their craft and durability are evidenced by their lasting presence in downtown—even to this day.
Today, the Shinola Hotel property occupies five buildings, including the historic former Singer Building and the T.B. Rayl Co. store (Rayl's).
The main structure that is now occupied by the Shinola Hotel was built by the T.B. Rayl Company in 1915. Wirt Rowland was the architect behind the elaborate red-tiled façade on the hardware and sporting goods store. Rowland was known for exploring new design methods and materials, and his use of terra cotta on Rayl’s became distinctive in Detroit. Rowland would later go on to design some of Detroit’s most recognizable structures: the Guardian Building—adorned with Pewabic tile and Parducci sculpture—and the Penobscot Building—known for the glowing red sphere topping its spire.
While the detailed red-tiled façade gave the building its undeniable charm, Rayl’s wasn’t the only eye-catching structure on the block.
With an understated, limestone-clad neoclassical exterior, the adjacent Singer Building was home to the Singer Sewing Machine Company in 1936. The company sold sewing machines, fabric and patterns. It was designed by Detroit-based Smith, Hinchman and Grylls—now known as the SmithGroup—the nation’s oldest continuously operating architectural engineering planning firm.
Over the years, the current Shinola Hotel property housed many retailers, including Liggett's Drug Store, Lloyd's Furs, Sally Frocks and the Meyer Jewelry Company - the Meyer Treasure Chest of Jewels.
Now, more than a century later, Shinola and Bedrock are honoring the era when quality craftsmanship and pride of work ruled the land.
Throughout the construction of the Shinola Hotel, there was an underlying commitment to restore the two buildings to their original look and feel, ensuring these structures would shine in a new century.
The Shinola Hotel Parker’s Alley, which is lined with specially-curated shopping options, offers a mix of global brands and homegrown businesses that celebrate Detroit’s entrepreneurial spirit.
While currently nestled in the city’s shopping district, its namesake honors a history long before the bustling storefronts of Woodward. The alley name is an homage to Thomas Parker, a free black man who became one of the first black landowners in the city of Detroit. He obtained the lot for $1 in a land drawing after Detroit’s Great Fire of 1805, which decimated the city.
The Shinola Hotel property encompasses lot 70 in section 7 of the Plan of Detroit, the very piece of land that belonged to Parker in 1809.