Township’s Historic Village celebrates 25th anniversary

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published August 3, 2015

 Hungerford holds up a donation in honor of the event, while Green explains the backstory.

Hungerford holds up a donation in honor of the event, while Green explains the backstory.

Photo by Deb Jacques


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Yesterday is history and tomorrow is a mystery, but it’s important to never forget how the past has impacted the present.

Clinton Township, which now boasts more than 100,000 residents and is among the largest municipalities in all of Michigan, has a rich history that has shaped its place in Macomb County and around the state.

The Clinton Township Historic Village helps residents and out-of-towners understand the past in a different light. Located at the township’s Civic Center, the village invokes a feeling of yesteryear — a time before the digital age, even prior to the accessibility of electricity.

The Historic Village is actually composed of the Old Moravian Town Hall, which originally stood on Moravian Road, near the Moravian Missionary Settlement, in the 1880s. The restored Williams Log Cabin, which was originally located on the corner of Romeo Plank and Canal roads in the 1840s, also makes up a part of the village.

On July 29, the Historic Village celebrated a rededication ceremony for its 25th anniversary at the Civic Center.

It was held near the front steps of Old Moravian Hall, where longtime residents discussed the history and evolution of the township.

A Clinton Township Parks and Recreation concert featuring the Dan Rafferty Band took place shortly thereafter.

Township Supervisor Bob Cannon said the ceremony was a means for the township to honor individuals who have volunteered their time and efforts to make Clinton Township a better place to inhabit.

“The Historic Village has evolved over the years with many other unique structures, such as a wishing well and the Rose Gardens Pergola,” Cannon said. “Each of these structures has a unique story of its own.”

The Williams Log Cabin, for example, was hidden for decades under modern building materials. It was owned by brothers Tony and Larry Garrisi, and later was donated to the Clinton Township Fire Department to be used for a controlled burn.

The Department of Public Works first wanted to make sure using the cabin in such a way was appropriate in terms of safety. When former DPW Director George Westerman advised the department to pull off old layers of drywall and siding encasing the cabin, they discovered the cabin.

Don Green, a community historian, said that in 1782, one of the first three nonmilitary inland settlements in Michigan was the Moravian settlement, known as New Gnadenhutten, translating to “Tents of Peace.”

It was located near the Moravian Bridge on Moravian Road, across from what is currently George George Memorial Park.

The settlement, which was ministered by the Moravian missionaries, totaled more than 100 individuals at that time. Moravian Road was built in 1783 and became the first inland road built by settlers in the Michigan territory.

The road was laid out in the winter of 1785-86 to connect the settlement with the fort in Detroit, which was 23 miles away.

“Many people don’t realize how much history is here,” Green said. “Clinton Township has one of the oldest and most documented histories of all the Michigan townships and communities.”