Dance studio

Detroit’s Frederick Stearns House reimagined as a hostel and dance studio

Rachel Mitchell, a ballroom dancer, wanted to open a studio. Four years later, she got her wish — plus a historic inn and private club, to boot.

Mitchell and her husband Eric bought Frederick Stearns’ 120-year-old home on East Jefferson Avenue for $1.3 million in 2018 and briefly considered living in the 16,000 square foot mansion. Very briefly.

Instead, they spent four years renovating the house designed by Alpheus W. Chittenden, which had been used as offices before buying it, and preparing the ground to welcome others to view the house and their work.

“It all fell into place within the first half hour” of seeing the house, Mitchell said. She quickly had a vision for the house as “a gathering place for people from all over the world”.

Mitchell, who was born in China, said she fell in love with Detroit – its historic buildings, its culture, its heritage. An interior designer – she owns Rachel’s Home and Garden in Troy – she did much of the renovation and design herself and with her team.

“It’s an investment, but it’s also art; it’s a restoration project,” she said of the home, which opened on June 11. “It’s very satisfying.”

In addition to the 10 flower-themed rooms that rent between $300 and $600 a night and are furnished with antiques and other materials Mitchell sought all over town, the basement has been turned into a pub with darts, a wine and a cigar. storage room and a karaoke machine.

Mitchell charges $100 a month for club membership, with discounts for those in the neighborhood and a one-year commitment, which grants members access to the bar area, as well as the bed and breakfast’s private chef. breakfast. Jeffrey Rakowski, the hostel’s general manager and the studio’s dance director, said there are also plans to play live music on a regular basis. He hopes it will be a draw for artists.

“We want it to be this social club, a gathering place,” he said. “We want to bring the community together.

During a tour of the inn last month, the couple recounted Stearns’ story as president of the Detroit National Baseball Club, founder of the city’s art museum, pharmaceutical executive and avid musician, who was member of the Detroit Philharmonic Society and donated his extensive collection of instruments to the University of Michigan.