Venue Spotlight: Saint Andrew’s Hall

By: Aaron B. Cohen | July 23, 2021
St. Andrew's Hall

Photo via St. Andrew's Hall on Facebook.

From the earliest days of Motown to the electronic frontier, Detroit is recognized globally as one of music’s most hallowed destinations. As the city’s sounds reverberate throughout the world, so too, do they emanate from the multitude of legendary stages that present local and international touring acts live. Here at Chevy in the D, we think it’s time to acknowledge the institutions that have and continue to serve as the beating heart of Metro Detroit’s musical identity. Welcome to our newest series, Venue Spotlight.

Our first venue is not Detroit’s most famous. Nor is it the largest. But to the hundreds of thousands who have experienced a performance in this sacred space, it just may be the most special. This is Saint Andrew’s Hall.

In 1907, the Saint Andrew’s Society of Detroit commenced construction on a brownstone-style building at 413 E Congress. The society, founded in 1849 by 35 Scotsmen, had outgrown their previous space and, due to increasing membership, required an upgrade for their meetings and events. The structure centered around a massive ballroom and featured additional meeting rooms and a large basement to host informal gatherings.

Membership continued to skyrocket throughout the ‘20s and early ‘30s but declined rapidly with the onset of WWII. The ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s continued to see a drop off and as a result, the Saint Andrew’s Society began renting the space for events and performances.

During the late ‘60s and ‘70s, Saint Andrew’s became a hot-spot for Detroit’s rock and punk scenes, often utilizing the dark, 400-capacity basement space that would come to be known as The Shelter.

By the ‘80s, Saint Andrew’s was considered one of Detroit’s trendiest venues, holding host to breakthrough acts on the verge of superstardom. This trend continued into the ‘90s, helping to launch the careers of iconic grunge bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Jane’s Addiction, along with alternative acts like R.E.M, Green Day and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It was also during this time that the venue established itself as a ground zero for Detroit’s thriving hip-hop scene, culminating in Eminem’s legendary 8 Mile rap battle, which was filmed in The Shelter.

Today, Saint Andrew’s Hall continues to present some of the world’s most exciting artists. While the live music hiatus of 2020 put a halt to their operations, the venue looks forward to welcoming music lovers back August 4 with a performance from indie heavy-hitters, Japanese Breakfast. ‘Til then, Metro Detroiters countdown the days until they can safely return to the city’s live music hub.