In 1894, University of Michigan alumnus and regent Levi Lewis Barbour gifted the university a patch of property along Woodward Avenue in Detroit. After forgoing plans to build a luxury apartment building on the site, the university sublet the property, leading to the eventual construction of the Graystone Ballroom on the site. The ballroom was a spectacular space, complete with a domed ceiling, a sprawling dance floor, a stage, a state-of-the-art lighting system, a balcony with lounge chairs and divans, and a large mural depicting an old English hunting scene. During its heyday, the ballroom showcased the country’s finest jazz players, including Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington, Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington.
— Adapted from “Backstage at the Graystone” by Kim Clarke, U-M Heritage Project