The Savoyard Club

"The Savoyard River snaked through a willow swamp on the Guoin farm where Riopelle crosses Congress. At Woodward Avenue, a wide bridge spanned it. French settlers depended on the stream to turn the wheels of their mills. It was a favorite of anglers, but over the course of time, the settlers used the stream as a drain. After Fort Shelby was demolished, the bottom and sides of the stream were planked with the lumber from the fort. It became practically an open sewer, growing so offensive that residents along the shores were happy to have the city encase it in stone in 1836, and convert it into a great sewer.

A group of men who had made a habit of lunching together discussed the possibility of an eating club near the Buhl Building, where they worked. The Buhl Building had had been built over the now vanished stream. What began as a joke — a suggestion that the club be built at the top of the building which had displaced the stream — became reality in 1928. The architect, William E. Kapp, named it the Savoyard after the long gone creek. He aimed for the look of a French provicial inn.

An elevator took members to the 28th floor. Ahead was a vaulted stairway, with three turns and landings. Halfway up a flood of sunshine poured through a stained glass window covered with the Savoyard shield: Cadillac’s duck floating in the Savoyard river, with the French Fleur-de-Lis above.

At the head of the stairs was a rusty tin stand holding two candles for lighting cigars. When an attendant found that the members liked to light the candles, he began snuffing them out unobtrusively, so they could have the pleasure."

- Where Detroit's elite meet, Detroit News


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