Honor’s Colloquium Students on a Detroit Adventure

November 8, 2014 the Henry Ford College Colloquium Honor’s Students were, once again, reminded about the rare opportunities they’re presented with as being a part of the Honor’s Program. After a semester filled with guest speakers and field trips tailored around the history, life, and labor of Detroit and its surrounding areas; the Colloquium students were finally taken on a trip around Downtown Detroit. Francis Grunow, of Global Detroit, was the tour guide of the day. Global Detroit is a “non-profit corporation that revitalizes Michigan’s economy by pursuing strategies that strengthen Detroit’s connections to the world” (GlobalDetroit.com).

The day started with a lunch provided by Peter Kim, a Colloquium Instructor, and an introductory presentation by Grunow giving the students a quick overview about the plan for the day.

The Colloquium adventure started off with a visit to the Detroit Opera Theatre. The Opera House left the students in a daze. As the tour guide spoke about how it came to be, the re-construction, and the ever-lasting chandeliers; the students were brought inside where they were given the opportunity to go on stage. Being on the production side of the curtain where the worker bees for great musicals like The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked run around, was a first time experience for many on the tour, including teachers. Reluctantly, the students followed Grunow down the streets. Passing landmarks; great works of architecture; and buildings that have stood the test of time; the students were led onward, into the Guardian Building.

The Guardian Building is a tall, proud and unique construct when compared to the rest. The interior was exquisite and as descried by HistoricDetroit.com:

Upon stepping through the doors, clients of the bank would enter the 150-foot-long main lobby, with a three-story vaulted ceiling above them that consisted of an Aztec design with multicolor, interlocking hexagons of Rookwood pottery and pewabic tile. The giant columns in the room are formed from travertine marble imported from Italy. At the base of each of these columns is a block of black marble imported from Belgium. No more of this black marble remains in the quarries from which it was mined.

Not only was the design astonishing, but even more intriguing about the building was its unusual sound. The second they entered the building, the sound was loud and a bit noisy, but the second they entered the main lobby, it was quiet. Historic Detroit explains sudden change saying, “And for a ceiling of such height, the main banking lobby is unusually quiet. That’s because the ceiling is entirely acoustical, absorbing sound. A 3/4-inch mat of horsehair covered the cement-plaster ceiling. A perforated canvas was placed over that layer and painted.”

Needless to say, it was a grand experience.

The tour ended with the most artistic, controversial, and unique destination: The Heidleburg Project. “The Heidelberg Project (“HP”) is a Detroit-based community organization designed to improve the lives of people and neighborhoods through art” (heidelberg.org). As the bus came to a stop, the students were met by a kind woman who was fundraising for the project through collecting signatures on her home. The walls were covered by people from all over the world - from Norway to Iraq.

Soon after that, the students dispersed. Walking the streets covered with polka dots, to the lawn with a fence filled from top to bottom with shoes. Across from it, was a property covered with rusty car hoods. Heidleburg Street was filled with clocks, as if they were reminding the students that this experience would be over too soon and that time flies by with memories left in its absence for future stories to be told.

Photos By: Dean Ravida

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