The Rowe Hotel that opened in January 1923 was designed to be a very modern answer to answer a very specific need. It was built by Fred N. Rowe, president of the Valley City Milling Company, on Monroe and Michigan. He built this modern "fire-proof" hotel because at that time the city was faced with the possibility that the semi-annual Furniture Market might move due to Grand Rapids lack of downtown accommodations.
During World War II, the hotel served briefly along with the Pantlind and Civic Auditorium as Army weather school. And lucky it escaped demotion during urban renewal. In 1963, the building began a new chapter in its history when it was repurposed as a home for the elderly known as Olds Manor until 2001 when it closed. The building stood vacant until CDW Real Estate's Managing Partner Sam Cummings announced plans to restore the building and convert it to "The Rowe," a mixed-use residential and retail building featuring both apartments and condos complete with a rooftop deck for a view of the city.
One of the wonderful parts of this renovation success story is that the beautiful terra cotta tile trim has been restored and damaged pieces replaced.
We had a chance to visit the construction site in the late fall 2015 and tour the new apartment model. We toured the building including the top floor which at the time was "open-air" in the midst of construction so we were really able to appreciate the amazing views of downtown. Our impetus for touring was the visit of our friend Betty Weiss to Grand Rapids. As a young girl Betty lived briefly with her family in the hotel when her father Max Bricker served as manager of the Rowe Hotel. This photo was taken in 1958 and shows Max Bricker greeting then Senator John F. Kennedy who visited Grand Rapids during his presidential campaign. For more on the history of the building link here http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2014/12/91_years_of_history_key_dates.html
(Photo courtesy of Bricker's daughter Betty Weiss and is a copy of the original photo held at the Grand Rapids Local History Department).