Royal OakAugust 6, 2012
Exhibit takes a trip down Woodward’s memory lane
By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer
ROYAL OAK — For the past 18 years, the Woodward Dream Cruise has delivered thousands of classic cars to the strip of road from Detroit to Pontiac.
But cars were cruising long before it became an official event, and the Royal Oak Historical Society Museum is hosting a special exhibit this month to bring those images back.
The museum, 1411 W. Webster at Crooks, is featuring a “Woodward Memories: Then & Now” exhibit until Aug. 31. It started Aug. 4.
Located inside the 85-year-old Northwood Fire Station next to the First Congregational Church on the corner, the museum is holding special hours all month so patrons can enjoy a look at what Woodward Avenue looked like from the 1910s and beyond. The museum will be open from 2-8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1-4 p.m. Saturdays.
“We have created what we hope is the mile roads, the early years and then what is there now,” said Curator Muriel Versagi. “Where the Big Boy restaurant was on Woodward, we have a pic of Potbelly’s and that strip that’s there now.”
Upon entering from the old fire station’s back door, visitors will be able to walk up a corridor designed in the same vein as Woodward Avenue. With a green patch of carpet dividing two traffic lanes on the ground, visitors will look to their right and see the former businesses that were on the east side of Woodward. As they walk, they travel north from 10 Mile to 14 Mile. Making a Michigan left to look at the rest of the display, patrons will see the businesses that used to reside on the west side of Woodward along the same stretch.
“Probably 90 percent of these things we had,” Versagi said. “A lot of people collected and donated pictures.”
Strolling through the exhibit, former Woodward-based businesses such as Hedge’s Wigwam, Stark Hickey Ford, Matthew Hargreaves Chevrolet, Oak Drive-In Theatre, Ted’s Diner, Maverick’s Drive-In and Vinsetta Garage all make appearances.
Also shown side-by-side are some with how they developed over the years, such as the Coral Gables that became Dillan’s and is now the site of Westborn Market. Other photos show Bill’s BBQ, which became Bill’s Hideout; or the Susie-Q and Oakotel Motel sites that are now called home by a Papa John’s Pizza and Pet Supplies Plus.
“We were having lunch one day and she wanted to know if anyone had any ideas,” said volunteer Randy Burean, who hatched the idea for the Woodward-themed exhibit. “Everyone worked together on this. You have a million of your closest friends coming to town.”
In addition to the month-long stroll down history lane, Burean is putting together a classic car show that will take place from noon-8 p.m. Aug. 15 in the large parking lot behind the church and museum. He said the feature car would be an Imperial Speedster.
“We hope to get about 75 cars,” said Burean, who is currently accepting registrations.
A disc jockey and $1 concessions will accompany the come-and-go strolling car show next week. Cost to register for the car show is $20 by cash or check only.
Cost to attend both the car show or the museum exhibit are free, but donations are gladly accepted for the all-volunteer nonprofit Royal Oak Historical Society. Proceeds will go toward providing the museum with a new rear awning.
For more information on the exhibit, car show or to download a registration form, visit www.royaloakhistorical society.org or stop by the museum.
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