Oakland Hills plans to build replica clubhouse after fire; could take until 2024

Historic clubhouse caught on fire last week; club prepping as if it's a total loss
Country Club Fire
Posted at 11:59 AM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-21 12:08:50-05

(WXYZ) — Oakland Hills Country Club officials plan to build a replica clubhouse following a massive fire last week at the historic club.

Oakland Hills President Rick Palmer gave an update to the media on Monday, saying the club's board met over the weekend.

According to Palmer, the board made the "easy decision" and unanimously voted that a new clubhouse will be a replica of the old clubhouse.

Right now, it's not clear how long a rebuild would take, but according to Palmer, they are making plans for what 2022 and 2023 look like in terms of a temporary clubhouse, and it could even go into 2024. The United States Golf Association has also offered help and the contractor they use for temporary setup for USGA events.

"We want to move quickly but we want to move slowly, too, in order to move fast," Palmer said. "We're really making not just a 2022 decision, but a 2023 and potentially 2024 decision on the process."

Oakland Hills
Oakland Hills Country Club after fire destroyed clubhouse

Last Thursday, a fire broke out in the attic of the clubhouse in Bloomfield Township and quickly spread throughout most of the clubhouse. The tennis building, pro shop, golf operations building and golf maintenance facility were untouched, according to Palmer, and the 2022 golf season should be unaffected by the fire.

On Monday, fire officials were at the scene of the clubhouse for an investigation. According to Palmer, there is no damage estimate, and the insurance company will make the final determination on if it is a total loss or not. Palmer said they are planning and operating internally as if it is a total loss.

It was also reported last week that memorabilia inside the clubhouse was saved by firefighters and Oakland Hills workers and members. According to Palmer, firefighters found a window they could use and asked them where the memorabilia was.

Oakland Hills CC Fire

That memorabilia was passed through the window to employees and loaded into a van. According to Palmer, they were able to save several items, but he did not say what was saved. Palmer said the restoration company is working with the insurance company to see what was recovered and is able to be restored depending on the condition it is in.

About 25 employees work full-time in the club during the off-season, but thankfully no one was injured.

While the insurance company still works on the investigation, Palmer said they are fully insured and feel comfortable with the amount they have on the club for a rebuild.

Oakland Hills Country Club history

Oakland Hills opened in 1916 and features two courses designed by legendary golf course architect Donald Ross. The clubhouse was build and completed in August 1922 and was nearly its 100-year anniversary when the fire happened.

C. Howard Crane designed the clubhouse at a cost of $650,000, according to the club. He was also the architect behind Orchestra Hall, the Fox Theatre, Olympia Stadium and the Capitol Theatre, which is now the Detroit Opera House.

The club was modeled after Mount Vernon, the Virginia home of George Washington.

It has hosted 17 Major Championships, including six U.S. Opens and the 2004 Ryder Cup. It's set to host the U.S. Women's Open in 2031 and 2042, and the club is hoping to get another U.S. Open in the future after a South Course restoration was completed last year.