This mysterious little commercial building on Chene with sleek, geometric exterior panels and an eye-catching Art Deco font was a 1920’s business called Anthony J. Rathnaw’s Formal Attire for Men, the flagship location for a successful clothing rental and retail business that was a fixture in Detroit until the 1970’s.
This 1989 image, posted by Eddieson on DetroitYes, appears to have been from bruceharkness.com, which is now a broken link. For those of you who don’t read the all the way through the comments, Anthony J. Rathnaw’s granddaughter Carolyn Kinsler found this post and added this to the very little I had been able to find:
My Grandfather was Anthony Rathnaw, the man who owned this business from 1922 until 1971 when he sold to the Valente Bros.. Although my grandfather’s business had many branches (8 to 12) this was his flag-ship location. He provided formal wear rental, and sold general mens wear and bowling/team wear. Shortly before he sold the business, it was broken into, he was assulted and badly injured. For the middle part of the twentieth century, Rathnaw’s was THE place in Detroit to rent tuxedos for proms and weddings.
To those of you who have found places you recognize on this website and offered a memory in the comments, I can’t tell you enough how much it means to hear from you.
Jenny Randazzo’s Chene Party Store was its final incarnation after the clothing store closed. The liquor store lasted a few years, eventually burned and Jenny died shortly after, and the store couldn’t be saved. Indeed, the inside is in terrible shape, with piles of trash among damaged coolers and a collapsing roof, and just a few little stickers and beer posters on the walls from its former life. But, the exterior’s beautiful facade and signage are pretty irresistible, and some of the liquor store’s hand lettering is still visible through a thick layer of graffiti and tagging.