Jan 27, 2023 - News

Remembering history: The 1976 Addison Hotel shooting

Addison apartments

The Addison apartment building on Woodward and Charlotte used to be a luxury hotel. Photos: Samuel Robinson/Axios

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  • You never know what sort of bizarre history exists — like that time in 1976 when a police chaplain was shot and killed by a barricaded gunman on the sixth floor of my building.

The intrigue: "I remember seeing police outside right near the front door with big revolvers in their hands," wrote Bruce Harkness, a photographer and frequent poster on the Cass Corridor Forever Facebook group. "It was a wild scene with hundreds of gawkers being held back by the police."

  • Harkness was unable to find anything online about this memory until Detroit News reporter George Hunter turned up gold. He posted the News clip from March 6, 1976, recounting the event in detail in the comments of Harkness' post.

Zoom in: The News' Norman Sinclair described the building as a "rundown hotel, where Chauncey West Jr. had shot one man and was holding police at bay in a sixth-floor stairwell."

  • Another police officer and the part-owner of what was then a hotel were wounded by West before he was killed by a sharpshooter while on the roof of the Addison, Sinclair reported.
  • 47 years later, I spend lots of time in the Addion's sixth-floor stairwell and roof — which made these details especially remarkable to read.

Of note: A commemorative plaque honoring Chaplain William Paris still exists outside the now-residential building today.

The intrigue: Nine years after it opened in 1914, the building was fitted with an addition designed by Albert Kahn.

  • It has since been demolished.
Plaque commemorating Chaplain William Paris, who was killed on March 3, 1976 inside the Addsion Hotel.
Plaque commemorating Chaplain William Paris, who was killed on March 3, 1976, inside the Addison Hotel.
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