St. Andrew’s Hall reimagined: The Society Room debuts

The third level of the historic Detroit venue has been redone as part of Live Nation’s $1 million investment in the property

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Saint Andrew’s Hall will become a three-floor venue again this week with the launch of a new third floor space, the Society Room.

Formerly known as the “Burns Room,” the upstairs club had hosted DJs, particularly during the “Three Floors of Fun” days when the building at 431 E. Congress had different dance music blaring from each of its three levels. This also included the basement club the Shelter, which still hosts live music regularly.

Most recently, the Burns Room was closed to the public, and served as an oversized green room for acts playing the Hall.

Live Nation, which owns Saint Andrew’s Hall, will unveil the completely renovated third floor this week, and it’s a stunner. The re-do is part of a $1 million investment in the hall, which is more than 100 years old, and the overhaul includes a new look and new usage, along with the new name.

With sophisticated lighting, plush seating, dark wood floors, exposed brick walls and an advanced sound system, the Society Room is unrecognizable from its former self. The new area has an elegant bar, and seating at communal tables with stools, couches and plaid arm chairs (no doubt a nod to St. Andrew’s Scottish history), plus bistro seating on a balcony above the room.

Even the stairs leading up to the Society Room from the main hall have been redone. Half of the $1 million investment was spent on renovating the third floor.

Live Nation’s executive vice president of club and theater operations, Arich Berghammer, oversaw the renovation and said the vibe of the Society Room will be flexible to complement the vibe of the performer at St. Andrew’s. Whether you’re going to the Hall to see a high energy punk show, a hip-hop battle or a doom metal concert, Berghammer wants all concertgoers to feel comfortable in the Society Room.

“We wanted the room to have a lot of conceptual integrity,” said Berghammer, who also spent a decade working as the chief of staff for House of Blues. “Saint Andrew’s has got a lot of depth and when you talk to people it invokes a lot of emotion and everyone at one time or another can give you a story about their time at Saint Andrew’s, from the taxicab driver all the way through the school teacher.”

The 80-person capacity club will serve as a place to hang out and get a drink before, during and after shows at Saint Andrew’s. It can also be used for meet-and-greets and other VIP events. Berghammer said the goal is to eventually open the Society Room seven nights a week.

Berghammer, who oversees venues large and small nationwide, said in updating the third-floor space they respected the building’s history in an effort to be authentic.

“If you’re an imposter, they’ll smell you a mile away,” he said.

For that reason, rather than selling the name of the new space to a beer or liquor company, they looked into the past for a moniker that meant something.

“The Society of Saint Andrews was a very powerful group of people who got together, and the Burns Room is where they used to meet,” he said. “The Society Room comes from the Society of Saint Andrew’s. It’s paying a bit of conceptual integrity and homage to our culture, where the building came from.”

Other improvements coming to 431 E. Congress will be additional restrooms. In the near future, there will be a set of restrooms on all three floors. Recently, Live Nation built new green rooms for bands in the basement that included laundry and shower facilities.

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Twitter: @melodybaetens