MACOMB TOWNSHIP — A piece of Macomb Township history that has stood for more than a century will soon be no more.
At press time, the 110-year-old former Stier’s Hardware building at 22 Mile and Romeo Plank roads was scheduled to be demolished this week. The original deadline for the court-ordered demolition was June 28, but numerous factors have contributed to the delay, according to Dan Fairless, building official for Macomb Township.
Fairless said that township officials had to wait until the electrical and gas companies gave them clearance to tear down the dilapidated store. It then took a few more weeks to gain approval from the Macomb County Health Department, which was needed because Stier’s Hardware used well water and septic sewage since it was not hooked up to the township’s water and sewer system. The demolition was further postponed by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), which determined that asbestos abatement was needed before the building came down.
“The DEQ actually found very little asbestos in the building,” Fairless explained, “but it was enough to create an issue. On our end, we received the electrical and gas clearances relatively quickly, but it took a little while to get the water and septic clearances from the Health Department.”
Fairless stressed that the property owners are responsible for the cost of the demolition.
“They have been working with us and with the DEQ, and they have met all of our requirements for getting the building ready,” he said.
Still, township officials had a backup plan prepared in case things did not go so smoothly. On June 26, the Board of Trustees authorized the Building Department to hire a contractor to demolish Stier’s Hardware if the property owners refused to do it themselves.
The current property owner, Jeff Stier, could not be reached for comment at press time, and his sister, Shelley Henshaw, could not provide any additional information about the demolition. Family members have previously described Stier as a recluse and said that he had distanced himself from the rest of the family. Henshaw pointed out that she has not seen her brother in about 20 years.
Stier’s Hardware closed for business a few years ago and was declared unsafe for human occupancy in February 2012. According to the Macomb County Treasurer’s Office, the store is a tax-delinquent property that still owes $2,405.45 on its 2011 taxes and $1,853.04 on its 2012 taxes.
Fairless explained that because Stier did not follow a township order to demolish the building, township officials had to file a lawsuit and take him to court. A Macomb County Circuit Court judge ruled in the township’s favor earlier this year and ordered that the building be torn down.
The history of the Stier family in Macomb Township spans more than 150 years. Henshaw’s great-great-grandfather, George Stier, moved the family there in 1857. At that time, the area was known to locals as Waldenburg and was populated mostly by immigrant German farmers. George Stier purchased about 40 acres of farmland near what is now 22 Mile and Romeo Plank roads, a crossroads that acted as the business center of Waldenburg.
In 1903, Henshaw’s great-grandfather, Louis Stier, opened Stier’s Hardware in a former post office building located at the southeast corner of the intersection. The business would later be passed down to her grandfather, William Stier; her father, Carl Stier; and finally, to Jeff Stier.
The Waldenburg name still survives at the Waldenburg Tavern, located adjacent to Stier’s Hardware. Henshaw noted that the tavern used to be situated on the first floor of the building that now houses Mario’s Corner Market on the northwest corner, while a popular dance hall made its home on the second floor.
But a big piece of Waldenburg history was slated to meet the wrecking ball this week. According to Fairless, the process would be quick, if not necessarily painless for the generations of people with fond memories of Stier’s Hardware.
“Demolition is usually pretty fast,” he said. “They should be in and out of there within a couple days.”