The push to preserve the building that once housed a historic jazz club finally kicked off earlier this month. Detroit Sound Conservancy (DSC) has been working to raise funds to renovate The Blue Bird Inn since 2019 when it bought the building on Tireman Avenue. After raising $400,000 to turn it back into a venue, the nonprofit started work on the preservation earlier this month. DSC says it will likely need another $400,000 to fully complete the work.
The business first opened in 1937 as a bar and restaurant. It eventually became a jazz club after its second owner put together a house band in 1948. The venue hosted some legendary acts, including Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan, and Detroit’s own harpist (and Cass Tech alumnus) Dorothy Ashby, pianist Alice Coltrane and trumpeter Donald Byrd. By 1970, it stopped putting on live music, but the business managed to stay open for another 30 years.
Wayne County put the building up for auction in 2007, by which time it was vacant and neglected. DSC managed to spare it from demolition after successfully lobbying to have it designated as a historic district.
Read a detailed history of The Blue Bird Inn from BridgeDetroit.