Commission to dedicate third historic landmark

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 26, 2016

 A historic landmark sign stands at the corner of Nine Mile Road and Harper Avenue honoring Richards Automotive. A dedication will be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 30 on the site.

A historic landmark sign stands at the corner of Nine Mile Road and Harper Avenue honoring Richards Automotive. A dedication will be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 30 on the site.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — The St. Clair Shores Historical Commission is inviting residents to take a look back with the dedication of a third historical landmark in the city.

The commission will dedicate a marker where Richards Automotive once stood on the northeast corner of Nine Mile Road and Harper Avenue. Richards Automotive operated in the city from 1928 to 2005. The commission says that the Richards family played a significant role in the successful development of business culture in St. Clair Shores.

“In choosing locations, we try to identify locations around St. Clair Shores that people can relate to and also have a story to tell,” said Jerry Sielagoski, chair of the St. Clair Shores Historical Commission. “It closed in 2005. ... That’s recent enough that most residents remember it.”

He said the historical marker project was created to promote an awareness of places’ historical significance to visitors and new residents, as well as to spark the memories of longtime residents.

The project was launched in 2015 with a historical marker placed at Kyte Monroe Memorial Park and also on the “Davis block” of 11 Mile Road and Harper Avenue.

Historical Commission member Ann Powell said the Davis block included the city’s first strip mall with different stores. Richards Automotive, she said, “was a landmark.”

“Everybody knew if you needed anything and everything in automotive, you went to Richards Automotive,” she said.

This will be the commission’s third historical marker placed. The dedication is scheduled for 10 a.m. Jan. 30 and is open to the public. While the red and white landmark was demolished in 2007, Flagstar Bank now stands on the location. The business will open its doors for the ceremony if weather does not permit the dedication to take place outside.

Sielagoski said that Richards Automotive began as a filling station and evolved into a Firestone tire store and then into a shop offering automotive and mechanic services. 

With this marker, Sielagoski said, the grandson of owner Russ Richards came forward to help the Historical Commission piece the story of the business together.

“We look for locations that will be of interest and that we can tap into resources to provide the story,” he said. “When we put those together on the marker, it rekindles the memory.”

Sielagoski said that the commission is trying to dedicate two historical landmarks per year and is exploring the Nautical Mile area for the next marker.

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