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Fate of Detroit bead museum building awaits ruling

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Fate of Detroit bead museum building awaits ruling


Detroit — The fate of a bejeweled building by Detroit’s African Bead Museum remains is in limbo awaiting a decision on demolition or the chance to turn it into a gallery on the city’s northwest side.

Building 101, located at 6559 Grand River Ave., showcases artwork by Olayami Dabls, who founded the MBAD African Bead Museum. The art is embedded in the brick but the building is in “a state of significant collapse” after the roof and floor caved in, city inspectors said.

The building’s future was debated for three hours during an administrative hearing before the Department of Appeals on Wednesday. Hearing Officer Joilynn Hunt said she would issue a ruling within five days.

During the hearing, the city presented three building inspectors and a project manager who flew a drone over the building. The inspectors noted the building is open to trespassing at the rear, there’s a collapsed roof, and interior walls and floors. Inspectors testified they also observed a slightly leaning façade that could fall over onto the sidewalk.

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“Exterior walls are standing as an empty shell,” said Nabil Jaafar, a city inspector of dangerous buildings. “The building has lost the roof and floors. The exterior walls become structurally unsound and unstable without any support. Being open to the elements can cause further deterioration and you’re going to end up with either total or partial collapse. The corner of Grand River and Vinewood Street is a particular concern as it is near apartments, a school and a church.”

The building was inspected in September and May, when officials noted that Dabls invited inspectors to review the building in its entirety.

Bryce Anderson Small, known professionally as Bryce Detroit who is a member of the museum, assisted Dabls in representation at the hearing saying they are excited and proud that they have been organizing a plan to remedy the site.

“We submitted an appeal to have the demolition order stopped because there’s a plan for how this building is to be stabilized and renovated into an actual museum. We have a structural engineer to show the absolute viability of our immediate solution and a letter of our fiscal sponsor and funds committed to support the necessary step forward,” Small said.

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Still, the city argues that the building is in dire shape with numerous violations and needs to be demolished to protect residents.

“The fact that this is an art installation is not relevant to this building being a danger to the community,” said city attorney Lorinda Lindsay.

The bead museum, which opened 31 years ago, is known for its unique exterior, featuring a large, colorful mural includes beads, African symbols, artwork and jagged mirrors that cover the building. Dabls said he uses mirrors because they give people a chance to look at themselves in perhaps a way they never have.

Since 1998, the museum has drawn thousands of visitors from around the world. But Dabls never got around to opening the museum in the building. He has a retail shop in the next building. The centerpiece of the museum’s campus is a sculpture garden with 18 installations, all conceived and created by Dabls.

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In an online post earlier this month, he issued a call for help to restore the front building, but did not expect the city to be drawn to the fully collapsed roof. Within 48 hours, the city’s Buildings, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department issued an emergency demolition order for the building, which is separate from the Dabls’ retail shop and not slated for demolition.

City officials “moved so fast. I only had a week to respond to the demolition order because they said it was a safety emergency,” said Dabls on Tuesday. “I still appealed but, weirdly, they think this is an emergency when the building has been here for 25 years and has been in a state of collapse for the last 13 years.”

The demolition was delayed after Dabls quickly submitted an appeal. Notable artists and community leaders stopped by early Tuesday to show support of saving the structure, including architectural metal design artist Carlos Nielbock; Jessica Care Moore, the city’s poet laureate; and musician Audra Kubat.

“It’s his life’s work, his purpose,” Nielbock said. “That’s why we come to show support and just because they delayed it, doesn’t mean it’s time to celebrate.”

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Earlier this summer, Dabls launched a GoFundMe to raise $200,000 for the first phase of renovations to the front building to create a space for African-based exhibitions and arts education programs for children and community groups.

“We’ve never had a lot of visitors, but I hope this a resurgence of something new,” Dabls said.

srahal@detroitnews.com

X: @SarahRahal_



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Detroit, MI

Detroit Pistons Second-Rounder Lands Standard NBA Contract

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Detroit Pistons Second-Rounder Lands Standard NBA Contract


It’s been a busy offseason for the Detroit Pistons, who have made major changes across the board. As the roster sees a few tweaks, the Pistons recently added two new young prospects through the 2024 NBA Draft.

With their first-round pick, the Pistons took a chance on Ron Holland of the NBA G League Ignite. In the second round, they traded up to acquire Wake Forest freshman Bobi Klintman.

For many teams, it’s typical for a second-rounder to land a two-way contract, splitting time with the main roster and its NBA G League squad. However, it’s certainly not rare for teams to bet on the future of a second-round selection by offering a standard deal.

In this case with Klintman, it appears that the holdup to sign him was because a standard contract was getting negotiated.

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According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Klintman has inked a deal with the Pistons, signing on for four seasons. As Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported, Klintman has multiple seasons guaranteed.

Per Scotto’s report, the Pistons are intrigued by Klintman’s positional size and his shooting ability. With Detroit still on a rebuilding timeline, they have an opportunity to issue playing time to younger players, allowing them the chance to sharpen their tools on the main stage as early as possible.

Klintman enters the NBA as the 37th overall pick. With Wake Forest, he appeared in 33 games last season. Coming off the bench for most of his appearances, Klintman produced five points and five rebounds in an average of 20 minutes. He was successful on 41 percent of his field goals, and averaged 37 percent from three.

In addition to playing at Wake Forest last year, Klintman had a run in Australia’s NBL. He appeared in 23 games, averaging ten points and five rebounds while hitting on 36 percent of his threes.

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Ron Teasley, 97, a star in Detroit and the Negro Leagues honored at Comerica Park

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Ron Teasley, 97, a star in Detroit and the Negro Leagues honored at Comerica Park



Ron Teasley did the unthinkable, when he batted .500 through an entire season for Wayne University. But the 97-year-old’s greatest contribution has come by using his mind and heart to lift Detroiters.

In this age of data and analytics, the interpretation of baseball statistics has changed significantly. But from the perspective of most pure fans, a .300 batting average still is a measurement for success. 

With that said, a .400 batting average for a season at any level of the game remains rarefied air.  

And a .500 season would be simply unimaginable, for most. Unless your name is Ron “Schoolboy” Teasley, who, before playing professionally for the New York Cubans of the Negro Leagues, batted an even .500 for an entire college season as a member of the Wayne (now Wayne State) University baseball team during the spring of 1945. 

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It’s the same Ron Teasley, now 97 years young, who is the second-oldest living former baseball player from the Negro Leagues. For that reason, and considerably more, Teasley was invited to grace a baseball field once again on Saturday afternoon during the Detroit Tigers’ Negro Leagues Weekend celebration at Comerica Park.

“Dad has a wonderful Detroit legacy that should always be honored,” said Lydia Teasley, who, in addition to being the proud daughter of Ron and the late Marie Teasley, is the executive director of the nonprofit Ron and Marie Teasley Foundation, which is committed to providing scholarships for Detroit youths.

Nearly 80 years ago, readers of the Detroit Free Press were informed that Lydia Teasley’s dad was a rising, versatile athlete worthy of the community’s respect when, in a March 11, 1945, article honoring the Free Press’ 1945 All-City Basketball Team, sports reporter Truman Stacey wrote: “Teasley’s work during the first term was of such a high order that he could not be overlooked.” The visuals accompanying the article included a photo of a smiling Ron Teasley in uniform and knee pads as he prepared to launch a two-handed shot while representing Northwestern High School, where he was vice president of his January 1945 graduating class — the first Black student to captain the basketball team and an outstanding performer on the baseball team.     

A mention of that 1945 Free Press article, and his pose in the accompanying photo, made Ron Teasley chuckle Wednesday evening. And while it is unlikely that Teasley can remember everything that was written about him during the years he starred on the baseball diamond and basketball court, he made it clear that he will never forget the tight-knit Detroit community that inspired him to do great things.  

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“Have you heard of the west-siders? Do you know the boundaries?” Ron Teasley asked with a prideful tone in his voice that could not be denied, as the former Vancourt Street resident reminisced about Detroit’s “old west side,” whose boundaries included Epworth to West Grand Boulevard; Tireman to Warren Avenue; Vinewood to Grand River; Buchanan to West Grand Boulevard, and American, Bryden and Central streets. “We had a lot of doctors, lawyers and teachers in the neighborhood that all of the kids looked up to, and you wanted to be like them.” 

Teasley says he also wanted to be like a group of men that he saw playing baseball near the old Kronk Recreation Center, at 5555 McGraw Ave., when he was 13 years old. This group, which included men that had played in the Negro Leagues, along with Julius Lanier, a supportive neighbor who worked at the nearby Kelsey Hayes plant at Livernois and McGraw, taught Teasley the game and gave him the “Schoolboy” nickname that aligned with Teasley’s studious nature on and off the field. 

“I started practicing with these gentlemen, and then I would wait for my neighbor to come home to play catch, so I was always around people who loved the game,” said Teasley, whose baseball apprenticeship included playing in a national semi-pro tournament at the age of 14, where he declined any payment to maintain his amateur status. “By the time I started playing baseball at Northwestern, the game was kind of like a piece of cake because of the experience I had earlier.” 

The experience Teasley obtained as a teen in Detroit — capped by an exhibition at Dequindre Park, where, as a 19-year-old, he hit a triple off the legendary Satchel Paige — served Teasley well at Wayne. Once there, Teasley’s athletic career was split into two productive and exciting acts, with service in the U.S. Navy that included an overseas tour in the Pacific, sandwiched in-between. Through it all, Teasley, the collegiate athlete, shined while earning three letters in basketball (1945, 1947 and 1948) as a guard/forward; and two letters (1945 and 1947) in baseball, which included setting multiple team records.  

Following his playing days at Wayne, a path to the big leagues seemed like a pretty sure bet. Then, on April 20, 1948, the Free Press reported that the Olean (N.Y.) Oilers, a farm club of the Brooklyn Dodgers, had signed Teasley and former Detroit Miller High School multisport standout Sammy Gee to 1948 contracts. The story, compiled from wire reports, noted in bold type that Teasley and Gee were the “first two Negroes to play in the Eastern circuit.” Teasley’s signing, which occurred after he performed well during a Dodgers spring training tryout in Vero Beach, Florida, made him the eighth Black player to sign with a Major League Baseball franchise in the 20th century, coming on the heels of the debuts of Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby with the Dodgers and the then-Cleveland Indians, respectively, in 1947. Wednesday night, while recounting that period of his life, the former Northwestern Colt explained that his plan for working his way up to the Dodgers’ Major League team from the PONY (Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York) League centered on letting his potent bat do the talking.  

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“In 23 games, I had 23 hits. I was batting .270 and I was leading the league in home runs,” recalled Teasley, who delayed completing his education at Wayne to pursue an opportunity to make the Brooklyn Dodgers. “And I had no problems with the fans in New York. We (Sammy Gee and I) were received well.”  

Nonetheless, Teasley did indeed receive bad news when he, along with Gee, were released from the Oilers after the more than solid start to his minor league career that he described. Teasley and Gee had been vying to make a Dodgers team that by 1949 would have three established Black Major League stars: Robinson, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe — all former Negro Leaguers — at a time when Black players made up less than 2% of all MLB players.  

“(Negro League legend and Hall of Famer) Buck Leonard spoke to us after we were released and he told us that Black players were not going to be kept by Major League teams as bench players,” Teasley ruefully recalled. His tryout with the Dodgers had been arranged by Will Robinson, who also had coached Gee at Miller High School. “You had to be Hank Aaron or Willie Mays to make it at that time, and they knew we weren’t Hank Aaron or Willie Mays when they signed us. I wish I could say that everything was peaches and cream, but that was the saddest part and it was devastating at the time.”  

There would be more games for Teasley after his release from the Dodgers’ farm system, including the time he spent in 1948 with the New York Cubans of the Negro Leagues, where Teasley spent some time roaming the same outfield as Hall of Famer Minnie Minoso. Teasley later was a three-time all star while playing in the independent Manitoba-Dakota League. But it was a move that Teasley later made off the field to return to Wayne State, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, which set the stage for him to be a true impact player in his beloved Detroit community as an educator and coach.

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“Without a doubt, being a teacher and coach was the best thing that came out of my baseball experience,” said Teasley, who worked 35 years with the Detroit Board of Education, where he taught physical education at Garfield Jr. High, Spain Jr. High and Northwestern High School, while also coaching high school baseball, basketball and golf. “I’m in the Hall of Fame (Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame) because of my students. I have so many happy memories.”  

On Wednesday, Teasley confided that when it came to coaching, he was always happiest coaching baseball. In fact, during the 1970s, after coaching future Detroit Pistons Terry Tyler and Alan Hardy, Teasley chose to stop coaching the boys varsity basketball team at Northwestern because he needed to get an earlier start in preparing the baseball team. 

“I just always thought baseball was more interesting,” said Teasley, who also is enshrined in the Northwestern High School Hall of Fame and the Wayne State University Athletic Hall of Fame. “That’s why, as a coach, I timed all of my practices and charted everything. I wanted to make every practice interesting and fun.”  

And with the same precision that her father ran baseball practices at the Northwestern High School baseball field, Lydia Teasley said that she and her brother, Ron Teasley Jr., will make sure that their father has everything he needs to enjoy Saturday’s Negro Leagues celebration, which will include an interview and fan Q&A and an on-field presentation that she expects her father to participate in at Comerica Park before the Tigers face the Los Angeles Dodgers at 1:10 p.m. 

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Thursday afternoon, Lydia Teasley noted the irony of the Tigers hosting the same MLB franchise that her father signed a contract with 76 years ago. And in doing so, she made it clear that it will not be a day of what-ifs for her. Instead, along with her brothers Ron Jr. and Tim, she said she will be celebrating how their father made the absolute most of the opportunity he was given in the game of life.

“We always ask Dad, ‘How did you do all of that?’” Lydia Teasley said while explaining that during her father’s Detroit journey, he never shied away from a new challenge, which led him to take professional photos to accompany his late wife’s stories during her long tenure as a Michigan Chronicle columnist. “Baseball, Navy, back to school; at some point, he pledged Kappa Alpha Psi; then going back to Northwestern to coach and all of the things he did in the community with my mom. It’s just a heck of a legacy and a love story, and a testament to the character of the man. 

“And it never gets old to see him get honored during the celebrations of the Negro Leagues. As a family, we always knew he was great. And now the entire world is getting to know thanks to the MLB and the Tigers. It’s long overdue for all of the men that played in the Negro Leagues to be recognized. And I’m so glad that Dad can represent them and receive his flowers now, because he deserves it.” 

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Scott Talley is a native Detroiter, a proud product of Detroit Public Schools and a lifelong lover of Detroit culture in its diverse forms. In his second tour with the Free Press, which he grew up reading as a child, he is excited and humbled to cover the city’s neighborhoods and the many interesting people who define its various communities. Contact him at stalley@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @STalleyfreep. Read more of Scott’s stories at www.freep.com/mosaic/detroit-is/. Please help us grow great community-focused journalism by becoming a subscriber. 



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Road temporarily closing on Saturday for demolition of Northville Downs

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Road temporarily closing on Saturday for demolition of Northville Downs


Video shows demolition of clubhouse at Northville Downs

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Video shows demolition of clubhouse at Northville Downs

00:13

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NORTHVILLE, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) — The city of Northville announced that S. Center Street between Cady Street and Seven Mile Road will close on Saturday for the demolition of Northville Downs.

Officials said the street will be closed from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Saturday. The closure could extend to Sunday “in the unlikely event there is a conflict,” according to a news release. Crews will also be working on underground utilities.

Last month, residents expressed concerns over a recent oil spill at the site that the city had said was caused by demolition. Some of the spill had entered the Rouge River. In response, the city installed two booms to address the spill and hired a private contractor to clean up. 

In response, the city installed two booms to address the spill and hired a private contractor to clean up. 

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