Looking Back

Published July 26, 2015

MOUNT CLEMENS — Led by Professor Silas Wood, the Mount Clemens Public Library opened up to the public on the third floor of the old Union School in 1865.

That room, in a building that later became the Alexander Macomb Learning Center and is now the home of St. Mary Catholic School on Union Street, quickly became too small for the popular library. The inventory was relocated to the basement of the then courthouse, which is today the Old Macomb County Administration Building, and the very first librarian was hired.

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Published July 22, 2015

EASTPOINTE — This month’s historical picture is a drawing of the Templeton Farm, circa 1895, from an old Macomb County plat map atlas. An English immigrant known as Mr. Houghton originally bought the Erin Township property in the mid-1800s and established a farm that stretched from Stephens Road to 10 Mile Road, from Hayes to Phlox. The farmhouse was on the north side of Stephens, between modern-day Grove and Dale streets.

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Published July 17, 2015

Richard and Rose Maison’s farm was located in the Grossedale subdivision near the northern boundary of St. Clair Shores. This photograph was taken around 1900. According to the U.S. Census at that time and from notes on the image, Benjamin was 6; Rosa was 8; mother Rose was holding 2-year-old Archie; and Matilda (known as Tillie) was 4. An older daughter, possibly identified as Mary, stood near her father, Richard, who was holding the reigns of his horse.Read More

Published July 17, 2015

This photograph depicts the city of Berkley in the 1930s from atop the old city water tower, which was located on Bacon Avenue, just south of 12 Mile Road, on the grounds of the Berkley Department of Public Works facility.
In the photo, homes, land and even Pattengill Elementary School, which was built in 1925, can be seen.
James Tong, with the Berkley Historical Museum, came across this photo while compiling it as part of “Images of America: Berkley,” which is available at the Berkley Public Library, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.

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Published July 7, 2015

With the fast-growing popularity of automobiles in the 1910s, Woodward Avenue was already booming from Detroit to Pontiac, despite being two lanes and not fully paved. The busy road caused traffic backups for miles, but business and civic leaders saw potential for economic growth from the travel.

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Published July 7, 2015

CLAWSON — When Mary Dooley married in 1928, she was adorned in a moire satin gown with beaded shoulder detail.

The skirt was held out with panniers worn on the hips, and her netted veil was decorated with handmade shell flowers.

The dress was donated by the Dooley family and is featured in the Clawson Historical Museum’s exhibit, Forever a Bride — Wedding Gowns of Clawson Women.

Generations of wedding gowns are carefully placed and purposefully styled throughout the museum for attendees to view throughout August.

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Published July 2, 2015

EASTPOINTE — St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Eastpointe turned 170 this year after being founded in 1845 — a mere eight years after Michigan became a state.


According to church member Cindy Odren, the church’s origins actually started in modern-day Detroit at Eight Mile Road and Gratiot Avenue. German settlers had started a church there in 1841, but an argument over what name to put on the altar led to the church splitting in 1845.

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Published June 30, 2015

FARMINGTON  — Two countries are joining forces to celebrate a three-term Michigan governor who was born 150 years ago — three months after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.


To honor the late Gov. Fred Warner’s birthday, the Governor Warner Mansion is throwing a birthday bash from 7-9 p.m. July 9. The event precedes a July 20 celebration at his birthplace in Hickling, Nottinghamshire, England.

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Published June 17, 2015

ROSEVILLE — This month’s historical photo is from around 1950 and features the Eastgate Shopping Center in Roseville under construction. The shopping center’s architect is listed as Charles M. Agree, and it still stands in use today at Frazho Road and Gratiot Avenue.


Prior to the shopping center, the location held the Hartung Airport, also known before that time as Packard Field; the airport opened in 1919 and closed in the 1950s so that the shopping center could be built.

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Published June 15, 2015

ST. CLAIR SHORES — When you are enjoying the beach at Veterans Memorial Park, you are on the spot of the old Paradise-on-the-Lake band shell.

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Published June 10, 2015

This photo illustrates members of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Schools Parent-Teacher Organization performing a lively skit for the parents to begin the new school year.

IC first opened in Hamtramck in 1936 with an enrollment of 18 students in two classes. According to the school’s history, new pastor Father Joseph Schmondiuk several years later proposed a new school building to accommodate the growing enrollment. A “dollar-a-Sunday” campaign was created to fund the new school, which eventually opened in September 1951 in Hamtramck.

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Published May 31, 2015

The Star Ballroom, which is now known as the Vintage House, was on Utica Road and was the Fraser hot spot. This photo shows people dancing at a celebration of outdoor gardens in May 1941. The entertainment varied, as some nights would feature an orchestra and others a band. Sometimes dancing was done to the jukebox, which can be seen in the upper right-hand corner. Standing by the jukebox was the photo’s owner, Albert Grambo. Dancing was done not only inside on a handsome wood dance floor, but also outside under the stars, hence the name.

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Published May 29, 2015

A spectacular fire damaged Jefferson Beach Amusement Park 60 years ago on the morning of Friday, April 20, 1955. The damage was estimated at $40,000. According to the St. Clair Shores Herald news report, the blaze started in the fortune teller’s concession. The tower on top of that building collapsed on the fire hose, and the wind helped spread the flames to the pop-gun concession, the archery range and the funhouse. Firefighters from nine communities responded to the alarm. The St.Read More

Published May 27, 2015

This photograph takes us back to sometime between 1916 and 1918 at the old Leader newspaper office that stood at 61 N. Walnut St. in Mount Clemens. The staff was small at this time, and the location later became the home of Nunnley’s Shoe Store. Albert J. Tufnell, pictured far left, operated the print shop with his father, Harold Tufnell, and Arthur West. The others pictured, from left, are Charles D. Straight, editor; Samuel Norton Price, publisher; Maybelle Russell, women’s editor; Bert Lorway; Alan Straight; and Red, otherwise known as the printer’s devil.Read More

Published May 18, 2015

KEEGO HARBOR — Local students will hear the sounds of the past ringing out from a 30-inch historic bell now hanging in a new tower installed in front of Roosevelt Elementary.


The bell is believed to be from Keego Harbor School, which was built in 1914.

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Published May 13, 2015

EASTPOINTE — This month’s Looking Back is a drawing of the Gaukler General Store, which was located in what is now Eastpointe at the southwest corner of Nine Mile Road and Gratiot Avenue. Owned and resided in by Jacob Gaukler, the store was located in the former Erin Township from 1850 to around 1895. Gratiot was a plank road at the time, with wooden planks covering half the street going toward downtown Detroit. The road was used for horse-and-buggy transport of vegetables from local farms to Eastern Market.

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Published May 7, 2015

The 1930 Berkley High School marching band, shown in this photograph, won the state championship that year. The success of the 1930 band led the school to have a variety of musical groups to this day, including choir, jazz band and orchestra.
James Tong, with the Berkley Historical Museum, came across this photo while compiling it as part of “Images of America: Berkley,” which is available at the Berkley Public Library, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.

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Published May 6, 2015

Spring in Michigan today means pothole and orange barrel season. But 100 years ago, around when this photo of a stretch of 22 Mile Road in Shelby Township was taken, spring meant axle-deep mud and sunbaked ruts in the many miles of dirt road. In the 1840s, some roads were paved with planks of wood to help make them passable in most weather. Romeo Plank Road and Utica Road were both plank roads. But plank roads were difficult and expensive to maintain, requiring nearly constant replacement of rotten, warped and cracked boards. Most local roads remained unpaved well into the 20th century.

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Published May 4, 2015

The Ford-Peabody Mansion is one of Birmingham’s most iconic buildings. Frank Ford built this beautiful house in 1878 using his wife’s money. The house was designed by Almon C. Varney, a famous Detroit architect. Ford and his wife lived in the house until their daughter, Alta, and her husband, J. Bert Peabody, took over the property after they were married in 1893.

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Published April 29, 2015

FARMINGTON — The Farmington Masonic Lodge 151 has remained a civic and social bastion in the city since its inception in 1863.


The 12 founders of the then-Farmington Village formed the lodge when they were also busy creating what is now Farmington.


Longtime member Hal Groat, who joined the Redford Masons’ youth division, DeMolay, in 1958, said the lodge’s impressive history isn’t why he became a member at 13 years old. It was because of his father, who joined the Farmington lodge in 1958. 

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