Detroit, U of M, and Charles: A Cass Corridor Story

Detroit, U of M, and Charles: A Cass Corridor Story

bcumdetroityear1Had great fun in my Cass Corridor neighborhood today with University of Michigan students in the “Semester in Detroit” program.  I was one of the local speakers at Source Booksellers, a neighborhood indie bookstore.

I talked with the students about Charles writing his memoir in the city (a Detroit immigrant story), Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance, our meeting and lives in the city before and after meeting.

We walked down the street from the bookstore to my condo in a historic, 1904/5 bccharleschairrehabbed building. The intent was just to let them see the exterior, but that didn’t seem right so even though my living/dining room was in a state of “chaos” with book marketing stuff, etc., I impetuously invited the students inside. They reassured me by remarking they are students and used to such disarray.  It was fun to show them Charles’ favorite writing chair and many of his beautiful paintings.

Pictured above are the students on my front porch with Jonathan Peters an independent Detroit architecture historian. As we walked down the street, Jonathan told a little history of the buildings. Charles wasn’t the only “magic” in the neighborhood. Diagonally across the street from my residence is the site of the former W. R. Hamilton and Company Funeral Home where famed magician Harry Houdini was taken after his death following a performance in Detroit on October 31, 1926.

Semester in Detroit is a program for University of Michigan students that participate by living in Detroit for a semester, take classes in the city, and complete an internship with an organization also in the city. More information can be found at

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