Farmington reflects on 150th anniversary

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published February 6, 2017

 A landmark at Buckhorn Corners, at 12 Mile and Inkster roads in the city of Farmington, highlights history.

A landmark at Buckhorn Corners, at 12 Mile and Inkster roads in the city of Farmington, highlights history.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Advertisement

FARMINGTON — Happy anniversary, Farmington. 

This year marks the 150th since the city’s incorporation in 1867. Farmington’s rich history spans even further back to its founding in 1824 — 193 years ago.

Don’t pop open the bubbly and cut the cake just yet, though, because city officials plan to have a big to-do to celebrate the city’s founding in seven years, when it turns 200 years old. 

Farmington has grown around the heart of commercial activity along Grand River Avenue, once a main trail for American Indian tribes that originally inhabited the area.

Farmington resident Maria Taylor, co-founder of the Preservation Farmington group, said that Farmington started out along Shiawassee Road — the city’s original downtown.

“The downtown shifted because the stagecoach came through downtown Farmington,” she said, adding that the city naturally has a lot of older buildings downtown, and a few houses downtown are the only remnants of what used to line the downtown strip. 

“The fact that Farmington is a historic town is a big part of its identity.” 

Taylor, also the publicity coordinator for the Governor Warner Mansion, said that the mansion, built in 1867, is celebrating its 150th year too.

Taylor said the Warner Mansion was completed in 1867 by P.D. Warner, Gov. Fred Warner’s father.

“When it was originally built, it was not white and it did not have a wraparound porch; it was brick,” Taylor said.

The city’s history began when a 40-something-year-old Quaker man named Arthur Power, of Massachusetts, moved to the Territory of Michigan in the early 1800s by way of New York and — several years later — founded the township of Farmington in 1824, all with the help of his mother, who gave him $100.

He turned the money into greater wealth while in Farmington, N.Y., by purchasing property and selling it at a higher rate.

Farmington is the oldest community on the western side of Oakland County.

A number of people followed Power to Michigan, and many Quakers founded other places named Farmington throughout the country; there are 13 Farmingtons across the United States. Many of them were founded by Quakers. 

Farmington Mayor Bill Galvin said that being incorporated from a village to a city is something to note.

“(The) 150th year is certainly a milestone, but we’re waiting for the big milestone that will be in 2024,” he said. “We’ll have significant community plans to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Farmington community.”

Farmington Public Safety Director Frank Demers said that the times have changed in the city since its incorporation, and the Public Safety Department has kept up with the times.

“We’ve certainly evolved since the city was incorporated — certainly kept up to speed with the advances in technology,” Demers said, adding that, specifically over the last 20 years, changes in technology have been very noticeable. 

“Before, the job used to be about pencil and paper — it has all transitioned to some type of computer.”

Demers said training public safety officers has always been paramount.

“Training has been a focus of our department since its inception,” he said, adding that keeping up with changing trends is “something we’re committed to.”

He noted that doing so allows the Public Safety Department to be in a better position to offer excellent public services.

“That is what we’re committed to doing and what we’ve always had a history of doing, and (we) want to carry on that tradition,” he said.

Taylor, 26, said she has lived in the city for 16 years, and she likes the fact that Farmington’s long history makes it unique.

“Farmington could be quite similar to other towns,” she said, citing Northville, Novi and Plymouth. “But the fact that it has this long history makes it different.”

She added that residents make the town what it is today.

“I think it is a great community full of great people,” she said, adding that the city makes great use of historic buildings, such as the Farmington Civic Theatre, Farmington Masonic Lodge 151 and others. “I think it really gives the community a sense of place.”

For more information on the city’s history, go to www.ci.farmington.mi.us/Community/History.aspx.

Advertisement