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J-Hud a wow for Art Van

Nobody appreciates the "wow" factor more than furniture mogul Art Van Elslander. So making it the theme of his next big happening seemed natural. Art Van Furniture will open its eighth store in Chicago and it's the largest location in the 92-store chain (it is two-stories tall and 112,000 square feet). On July 30, singer/actress Jennifer Hudson will perform live at an invitation-only grand opening party at the new store in Downers Grove, outside Chicago. The party will feature cocktails and cuisine, special appearances from Art Van style ambassadors, interior designer Hilary Farr and fashion photographer Nigel Barker. "We've always done things in a big way," says Van Elslander, founder and chairman of Art Van.

"The biggest store, the biggest star, the biggest party. Downers Grove will be Art Van Furniture's crown jewel in Chicagoland and the Midwest, and we are planning the hottest, most-talked-about event of the year to celebrate the grand opening."

Jazz age artifacts preserved

Some priceless artifacts from Detroit's legendary Graystone Ballroom were saved this week when the Detroit Sound Conservancy's Carleton Gholz and a posse of volunteers went foraging (with permission) in a dusty, long-abandoned office at downtown Detroit's Book Building that once housed the Graystone International Museum of Jazz. The crew took the artifacts (including musical instruments, ads, vintage signs and windows) out, and they will sort through and store them until they can find a permanent home. The Graystone, on Woodward Avenue, was where the famed Jean Goldkette and his Orchestra played for years, starting in the '20s. After the big band era faded, Berry Gordy owned it at one time, then later it fell into disrepair and was razed in 1980.

Many happy returns

Tom Schoenith celebrated his 72nd birthday with a bang on the 4th of July — literally. The crescendo to the fancy bash hosted in his honor by wife Diane and their children, Michael, Mary Kay and John, was an over-the-top fireworks display that had many guests insisting it was as spectacular as Detroit's Ford Fireworks. "It was a magic trick. It was really just a bunch of large sparklers with mirrors," Tom joked. "In actuality, they looked so large and amazing mostly because we were only a few feet away. Being that close, of course they would seem bigger than anything you've ever seen." The 100 or so guests also enjoyed a constant flow of champagne, lobster, crab and beef tenderloin. And A bit of trivia: This 72nd birthday party was held in the same room at the Schoenith family's Roostertail as Tom's 16th birthday celebration.

Burton honored

The Adcraft Club of Detroit is honoring the late Detroit radio legend Bill Burton by building a playground at Mason Elementary-Middle School on Detroit's west side in his memory on July 25. The playground will be immediately dedicated to Burton, president and COO of the Radio Advertising Group. Mason doesn't have a playground, so children who attend the school have been are unable to play outside.

swhitall@detroitnews.com

chuckbennett@hotmail.com

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