Knights of Columbus Hall & The Auditorium Building

September 21, 2009

This building fronting on Ouellette at the end of Tuscarora Street, was known as the Auditorium Building as was designed by local Architect J.C. Pennington in 1916.

In November of 1922, ground was broken on the new Knights of Columbus hall on the backside of the Auditorium Building. The building was opened to the public, January 3, 1923. The hall was designed by the firm of Pennington & Boyde.

In this map from 1937, you can see the connection between the old and new buildings. The Knights sold the building in 1928 after only 6 years to developers.

Today the building is 86 years old, and despite being a Knights of Columbus hall for only the first six years of its existence, it’s amazing that the crests have survived.

Above is a rendering of the building as prepared by Pennington & Boyde. When it opened, it had a gymnasium, dining room, bowling alley and swimming pool.

In 1928 Fred Martin, the man behind the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel and Martin’s Marketerium outbid two other bidders paying $145,000 for the Auditorium Building & K of C hall (about $1.8 million in 2009 dollars). Eaton’s had recently announced that they were going to build a store downtown at the n.e. corner of Tuscarora & Ouellette. With the prospect of Eaton’s moving in across the street this site became extremely desirable for retail use.

The terms of the sale (Feb. 2, 1928) were as follows:

A cheque for $1000 with the offer; $24,000 more to be paid on March 10, 1928, when Mr. Martin takes possession. The balance is to be paid in half yearly installments of $5,000 until August 1, 1932, when the balance comes due and payable.

I wonder how much money the Knights actually received? I’m going to hazard a guess that the Depression and crash of October 1929 may have affected this deal.

Oh and despite the hype, the Eaton’s store was never built.

As a side note the 1937 Fire Map shows the Knights as occupying the space on the second floor in the building that is today home to Dr. Disc, a few doors north of the Auditorium Building.

9 Responses to Knights of Columbus Hall & The Auditorium Building

  1. David Staunton on September 21, 2009 at 9:56 am

    As an update, the building is vacant and currently for lease or for sale for a quarter of the 2009 adjusted cost. Priced well below the tax assessed value and current for sale buildings like the Beaches building for $3mil and the vacant bingo hall across Ouellette Ave for $1.3mil. The dance hall can still be a banquet hall, but can no longer be a licensed nightclub, bingo hall or entertainment complex under the new city by-law.

    The concrete foundation is still there for a 20×40′ pool in the basement.

    Also to note, banks and private lenders will not lend a penny to see downtown buildings like this rehabbed without long-term leases signed (and even then it’s iffy). Quite unlike downtown Detroit, where the DEGC will guarantee and/or offer low interest loans or grants to rehab downtown properties, which they have like the restoration of the Book Cadillac, Cliff’s Bells, etc. Something our city hall needs to offer (in addition to lowering taxes) if downtown is ever to be revitalizated.

  2. UrbanRat on September 21, 2009 at 11:38 am

    I walk past the building every day and for sale or not, I just wish someone, anyone put a coat of grey paint on the front of that building or maybe our midnight urban artists could tag that building with the my and the city’s blessing!

  3. ME on September 21, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Yeah because graffitti solves our answers. Hey while we are calling for grey what about taupe or brown? Everything else downtown is that colour so why not. By the way I’m not a fan of that pink colour either but cripes, enough with the dull colours downtown.

    David Staunton. Now you are thinking outside of the box and we can’t have that here. Not in glorious back assward Windsor.

  4. David Staunton on September 21, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    We had a great idea for the building earlier this year. The building was modernized with three rooftop HVACS when it was called Hollywood Bingo and had the perfect layout and size to do a Motor City Wax Museum, which would have been a collection of local wax celebrities from the motor cities like statues of Henry Ford and Jimmy Hoffa, another area with a statue of Al Capone making deals the Purple Gang, etc. Something to motivate some of the tourists to walk out of the casino and around downtown Windsor. But, when it came to putting the money down, everyone walked away. Lenders and investors weren’t interested in Windsor. I even called some of the big wax museum outfits like Ripley’s Entertainment, which owns Tussad’s in Niagara Falls, but no one’s interested in investing in Windsor. Everybody thinks downtown Windsor is a bad risk. If we had a DEGC like Detroit does to help out, things might be different. So sad.

  5. Shawn Micallef on September 23, 2009 at 9:14 am

    In the late 1970s and early 1980s the basement at the back held Windsor’s Maltese Canadian Club. For big events they would use the upstairs hall (Christmas parties, in particular — we’ve pictures of us sitting on a very tanned Maltese Santa’s lap). For the longest time after the Maltese Cross was still affixed near the back door (the club moved east to a few locations and is currently on Seminole).

    Was too young to explore, so I don’t remember the pool or any trace of it. I do remember the slightly-shabby 1970s quality to it (a good thing – like the set of All in the Family – things built in the 20s and previous that were old by then and hadn’t been reno’d much).

  6. David Staunton on September 23, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    I bet the place looked something like the Masonic temple before they modernized the interior. I can just imagine how amazing it looked like in its day. I’d love to see old pictures of it, which I can’t find anywhere. When I looked under the drop ceilings in the upper dance hall, I saw some beautiful gold colored arched coves that made up the original 18′ high ceiling with foot wide leaf and vine mouldings that ran along the original walls behind the steel studs and drywall. They even glued commercial carpet on top of the hardwood floors. On the ground of the north cut, I found several sheets of broken Carerra marble that I suspect once adorned the walls of the Ouellette Ave. entrance hallway to the rear dance hall along with gallery windows that were drywalled over. From the inside, you really can’t tell that it’s an 83 year old building.

  7. neelie on September 28, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Wow, how could I have missed knowing about this building !! Thanks for the post. I am new to viewing this site and and really enjoying the reads.

  8. shirley on October 1, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    If I’m not mistaken, the part of the bldg facing Ouellette was the Crystal Ballroom in the late 50s. Teen dances on Sat night.

  9. Dave on May 6, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Looking at the fire map I am intrigued at the Clifford Apartments. Would that building be the The Cook Shop/Pasta Shop?

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