Detroit has an abundance of well-preserved historical wonders, and many served as bars, both in the past, up through the present day. Some of these historically-significant bars were around the boom time and some weathered various struggles to serve patrons through the years. The bars listed below serve up tasty drinks and offer customers a first hand look at Detroit history at the same time.
19803 Ralston St.
Detroit, MI 48203
Known as the “Longest Bar in Continuous Operation” within the city limits, this biker bar started out as a farmhouse built in the 1860s. During the prohibition era, the property served as a meeting place for Al Capone’s Detroit mobsters, “The Purple Gang,” who used the downstairs portion as a clubhouse of sorts, while the upstairs served as a brothel. After prohibition ended, the farm’s owner decided to cash in and transformed the old homestead into a tavern called The Sportsman’s Rendezvous Bar. In the mid-40s, the name was changed to The Stonehouse Bar and Grille. Now a local hideaway for bikers, this low-key bar has a jukebox, cold brews, and is just the place to engage in some interesting conversations or to listen to a local band perform some tunes.
3500 Gilbert St.
Abick’s Bar touts itself as “Detroit’s Oldest Continuously Operating Family-owned Bar.” Built in 1907, the place began operating as a bar, and has been ever since. The deed changed hands in 1910 and again in 1919, when the Abick’s took hold of the reigns from a family member and turned it into a saloon. The bar served as a gathering place for factory workers as they finished up the late shift. The bar still caters to neighborhood fixtures, but also attracts a mixed set of new clientele as the landscape of the area changes. Today there’s a designated trivia night, some dart boards and a pool table to provide entertainment, while a back-room cigar lounge offers patrons a chance to savor scotch and cigars.
Related: Best Bars With History In Detroit
17897 Mt. Elliot St.
Detroit, MI 48212
Established in 1876, this bar has continuously evolved with the changing times. Often referred to as “Detroit’s Oldest Bar,” the 2-Way Inn has served as more that just a watering hole during that extended period of time. The 2-Way has spent its days as a jail, an inn, general store and a house of ill repute. It received its name as the result of an unusual selling point: the two exits found in every room of the inn. Although its past forays have ended, the tavern still serves thirsty patrons to this day. Just ring the bell, and the bartender will buss you in. Grand fun can be had for a reasonable price- the pool tables invite friendly competition or stop in on the first Sunday of the month for a brunch special like no other- for 5 bucks.
300 Adams Ave.
Detroit, MI 48226
Built in 1936, this Detroit institution has served up good times and cold drinks to the residents of Detroit for decades. Designed in the Art Moderne style by noted architect Charles Noble, this bar serves as a prime example of this style in Detroit and reserved its place on the National Register of Historic Places. The Elwood once called Woodward Avenue home. In 1997, the building itself was transported to a new location on Adams Avenue, where it now sits next to Comerica Park and Ford Field. Prior to re-opening in its new location, the diner was restored back to its former glory. This Art Deco gem still serves up drinks and traditional fare, and continues to attract crowds of fans as they frequent this favorite watering hole on game days.
612 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48226
The Grand Trunk Pub is seeped in history. Once upon a time, in the late 1800s, the building housed a jewelry store. In 1910, the space was converted into a ticketing office for the Grand Truck Railroad line. At some point in time, the building was rumored to contain a magic shop, operated by none other than legendary magician Harry Houdini. In 1935, the Metropole Hotel turned the space into a bar and has been lauded as a drinking establishment ever since. The stunning vaulted ceilings and historical architecture that dates back to 1879 continues to attract crowds today. The Grand Trunk Pub is listed as a Michigan historical landmark and features microbrews brewed locally and statewide.