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In 1907, Louis Schlussel opened a Russian and Turkish bath house at the corner of Alfred Street and St. Antoine. Schlussel was born in either Austria or Poland in 1877, immigrated to the United States in 1890, and married his wife, Anna, in 1897. The Schlussels moved to 501 St. Antoine in 1905, and in 1907 the bath house was opened around the corner at 186 Alfred Street. The bath house included Detroit’s first mikveh* or Jewish ritual bath.
The baths were located in the basement of the building; tile-lined walls were recorded during MSG’s excavations in 2019. Although mikvehs must traditionally be filled with “living water” as opposed to tap water, no evidence for collection of natural water collection (such as rain barrels) was encountered during the excavations or archival research. This brings into question the method of water collection for the mikveh. Does the missing evidence point towards water being piped in? Or is the natural rain collection evidence yet to be uncovered?
Between 1916 and 1919, Schlussel sold the bath house to fellow Jewish immigrant Julius Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld, who had immigrated to the U.S. from Russia in 1900, owned the bath house until its demolition in the late 1940s. Upon purchasing the bath house Rosenfeld moved into the neighboring house at 497 St. Antoine. Many of the artifacts collected from the bath house site by MSG date to the period of Rosenfeld’s ownership. Test units located along the side of the bath house where it adjoined the house at 501 St. Antoine yielded numerous glass bottles from local companies such as the East Side Bottling Works, the West Side, the Stroh, the Trivoli, and P.H. Kling Brewing Companies, and Feigenson Brothers (later rebranded as Faygo). Numerous medicine bottles came both from local pharmacies (Kruger Bros., Davy Jones Drug Co.) and national brands (Lyric, Richter). It is likely that these products were consumed at the bath house.