The Siren Hotel in Detroit pays homage to local street photographer Bill Rauhauser and the building’s past as a music store through art installations and programming.
DETROIT—The Wurlitzer building was nearly unsalvageable and headed for demolition until a developer acquired the building in 2015 and turned it into the boutique Siren Hotel.
The Wurlitzer building was built in 1926 and served as the headquarters for music company Wurlitzer, which was one of the largest music stores of its time, Sarah Berger, director of brand and culture at The Siren, said in an email interview.
The company left the building before the 1970s and the building changed ownership several times over the next few decades. It was poorly tended and nearing demolition until developer Ash NYC stepped in and created the 106-room hotel that stands today.
“The Siren Hotel is proud to carry on the musical legacy of the building throughout its tenant partnerships … a record store, and six other retail and food-and-beverage outlets,” Berger said.
The hotel also pays homage to street photographer Bill Rauhauser, who was well-known for his work in Detroit in the ‘50s and ‘60s. He was “a pioneer in developing the photographic culture in the city of Detroit and his work provides a unique historic archive of the city during a time of major urban and social change,” Berger said.
The hotel has an agreement with Rauhauser Estate and Hill Gallery for the exclusive rights to show Rauhauser’s prints throughout the hotel and is “the sole location for the distribution of his work, in collaboration with his team," she said.
Art throughout the hotel
When The Siren Hotel discovered Rauhauser’s work, the team knew it was the embodiment of Detroit they wanted to remember at the hotel, which is infused through different touchpoints at the hotel.
“Incorporating one of his photos into every guestroom reminds our guests of the romantic yesteryears of Detroit,” she said. “The hotel's design and brand centers around a more soft and intimate feel, which is carried throughout Bill's photographs by a strong female presence in his work.”
“All of the work we do internally and as a company is geared toward embodying the current zeitgeist of a town and society at large and combining it with historical references or motifs that speak to it. In this case, Bill Rauhauser had both the irreverence and sophistication in his work that we wished to imprint in the way we provide hospitality and experiences.”
The Siren also celebrates the building’s musical origins through regular music programming at outlets throughout the hotel as well as in the record store, Paramita. The hotel also is working on the launch of “art installations on our stretch of Broadway” with a project piece based in the micro urban park, she said.
What makes the hotel stand out
The Siren has seven offerings that span from entertainment to F&B to shopping, and the main goal is to make “someone’s choice for a stay at The Siren worth it” through theses spaces and experiences, GM Nick Knight said in an email interview.
Having these offerings helps set the hotel apart from its competitors in the market.
“We work daily on prioritizing a service culture and a spirit of getaway and engagement with Detroit,” he said. “We understand that there are ‘typical’ experiences people will be expecting when going to Detroit but we try to go beyond that and provide genuine and personal guidance on how best to enjoy the city. We put an emphasis on letting guests know of experiences that are not solely focused within our walls or downtown because the city is way too large and there's way too many people doing cool things than what's in this one-mile radius.”