Weekend bus tour features kit homes, unique history

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published April 15, 2015

 Kit homes — like this Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog model home in the city — will be highlighted on the Historic Clawson Bus Tour at 1 p.m. April 18. Kit homes were available through mail orders from 1908-1940, and many have been identified in Clawson.

Kit homes — like this Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog model home in the city — will be highlighted on the Historic Clawson Bus Tour at 1 p.m. April 18. Kit homes were available through mail orders from 1908-1940, and many have been identified in Clawson.

Photo by Victoria Mitchell

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CLAWSON — Residents are invited to take a trip back in time on Saturday with a guided bus tour of the city.

The Historic Clawson Bus Tour will take place at 1 p.m. April 18 and will feature a tour of some of the city’s kit houses, the history of its streets and early settlers, and other local tidbits.

“It’s an hourlong tour of our favorite city,” Clawson Historical Museum Curator Melodie Nichols said. “And a lot of focus is on the kit houses. … I’ve done a lot of research, and we have a lot of them in town, and we’re finding more every day.”

Nichols has been completing research with the help of Oakland County historian Andrew Mutch to determine the kit homes in the city. She is excited to share Clawson’s historical character.

“I really hope that some people who haven’t necessarily been interested in history will come out and want to look at the city, and it will give them kind of an insight into maybe how the city used to be and how it grew, and give an appreciation for how each little town is unique,” Nichols said. “Driving up and down the streets and looking at some things kind of gives you a new perspective on it.”

Highlighting the history of Clawson will take on new meaning this year as the city celebrates its 75th anniversary with a series of events as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebration.

“We all live in what history has created, so we all have an interest in understanding where this all came from,” Nichols said. “And with this being the jubilee, it is a good year to step back and look at the city.”

Nichols said that other collaborative events happening throughout the year will include a Memorial Day weekend scavenger hunt and an early-June celebration featuring an all-1940s theme. The June celebration’s events will include music, games, contests, photographs and the city’s history walk.

“We have 17 permanent markers up all around town, and each one gives photographs and history,” Nichols said. “And that’s a permanent history walk that you can kind of go up and down in what I call the little cloverleaf in downtown.”

Nichols is helping with the process to create a 20-page anniversary book with photographs and history that will be mailed to all residents at no cost. Online galleries are in the works at clawson historicalsociety.org. The museum has about 5,000 photographs.

“It’s probably our most important collection,” Nichols said.

Nichols will be speaking at 7 p.m. May 4 at the Blair Memorial Library, located at 416 N. Main St., during a program titled “Clawson’s 75th Anniversary — How We Got Where We Are.”

“We are having this program because we want to collaborate with the museum in not only celebrating this important anniversary, but also to help showcase Clawson’s rich history,” said Blair Memorial Library Director Jenni Gannod.

Gannod said the free talk will explore the history of Clawson from its early days to the city it is today.

“We will have paintings, etchings, maps, some photographs, even a couple of quilts that tell the story,” Nichols said. “We’re just trying to find a different way to show the history through the eyes of artisans and craftspeople — what they saw.”

Nichols said she’s enjoying preparing for the upcoming anniversary events, including the bus tour.

“What’s neat to me is that now there are a lot of other people asking questions,” Nichols said. “More people, I think, are getting interested in it.”

Space is limited for the Historic Clawson Bus Tour and registration is required. Tickets cost $10 and the tour leaves from the Clawson Historical Museum, 41 Fisher Court. Attendees may leave their cars in the library parking lot.

“It’s basically covering our costs and maybe making a little money for the Historical Society. We want to make it affordable,” Nichols said.

Registration may be completed at the Hunter Community Center by calling (248) 589-0334 or emailing parksrec@cityofclawson.com.

A drawing to win local history books will be included during the event.

For more information, contact the Clawson Historical Museum at (248) 588-9169 or via email at historicalmuseum@cityofclawson.com.

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