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People have been yelling out their car windows at us "My Grandmother used to work there!" or telling us the photos we have in our window of people sitting at Martha Washington Cafe are their relatives. Or scary stories about cats in the kitchen.
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Sulesky's Tap Room
Steve Babson, the author of an 1979 article on Detroit Banks reached out. "After the Crash" talks about repurposed banks, and the history of banking in Detroit. The intro shares an excellent anecdote about our building which we'll share below. You can view and dowload the entire article here: After the Crash, By Steve Babson, Photos Henry Babso, September 1979 issue of Monthly Detroit
In Sulesky’s Tap Room in Hamtramck, Jacob and Willie are watching Woody Woodpecker cartoons on the color tv above the bar. Several Miles away on Mack Avenue, the Mount Nebo Missionary Baptist Church choir harmonizes to “Rock of Ages.” The American Legion Post 120 on Woodward near Cortland routinely prepares for the post’s weekly bingo night, and two miles up the street, the Wood-six Theater is already nine hours into its day-long bill of adult movies.
Nothing unusual. Except one detail: All four of these otherwise unrelated establishments are housed in former banks.
And they aren’t alone. Scattered throughout Detroit are dozens of stately, granite bank facades with fluted columns and high, vaulted doorways, opening into churches, surplus-goods stores, welfare agencies, fraternal organizations – even a local chapter of the Urban League. More often than not, the old bank’s name is still prominently etched in the greyish stone, a gesture of permanence mocked by the new tenant’s hand-painted shingle or neon sign: “Happy Hours, 4-6 p.m.”
Willie & Jacob don’t know –or care – When the Bank of Hamtramck made way for Sulesky’s Tap Room. But Norm Comack, sipping a beer while watching the pool table, does. “Hell, I remember when Hamtramck went all the way to Eight Mile Road,” he recalls, wiping the froth from his lips. “The bank here folded in the 1930s, but Sulesky didn’t move in ‘til way after the war. And it isn’t Sulesky’s anymore, you know. He used to work at the Dodge plant down the road and had a couple of gals tend the bar. Then he ran for steward or some position. He sold the place about then, maybe ten years ago.”
Sulesky’s faded name is still on the door’s awning. The present barkeep hasn’t bothered with a new one."