Traction and Electrical Company, Power Station
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HAER No. MI-76-A, Page 5
Until 1907 electric railways were top earners for the stock holders of the various utility companies of Michigan, natural gas was second and electric service as third. By 1921 electric service was the top money maker and traction was a very poor third. Operation costs of traction companies increased; however, rate increases were (predictably) unpopular among the users of the electric streetcars. Thus, additional operating revenue was difficult to acquire. Furthermore, the success of early internal combustion engine powered jitney buses led to significantly decreased ridership on the more expensive electric streetcars. Jitney buses acquired their name as a result of the 5 cent "jitney" or fare charged on these vehicles. Increasing competition from these so-called jitney buses ultimately led to the discontinuation of the electric street car service in Bay City on August 10, 1921.
BAY CITY TRACTION AND ELECTRIC COMPANY POWER BUILDING
The Bay City Traction and Electric Company Power Station was constructed in 1893 and first documented on an 1895 Sanborn Insurance map of Bay City. The structure operated as a generating plant until 1913 when Consumers Power Company of Michigan took control of the property. Industrial Brownhoist Company occupied the building during the 1960s and 1970s. Sometime in the 1980s the building was sold to Bay Aggregate Company who leased it to the Bay City Boat Company. The building is currently owned by the City of Bay City, Michigan.
The original 1893 structure consisted of a rectangular brick building with a gabled slate shingle root. The building measures 66 feet in width, 89 feet 1 inch in length, and is built on a found of cut stone. The 1908 addition is shorter than the large gabled section of the building. The addition has a depth of 15 feet 5 inches. The roof of the addition is flat.
The 1893 portion of the power station building contained rows of six double-hung leaded glass windows on the building's north and south elevations. A pair of double hung leaded glass windows was located on the eastern elevation, and nine additional windows were located along the southern elevation. A personnel door is located at the southern end of the east elevation, 48 inches above ground level. Access to the door originally was provided by a raised concrete porch and a concrete stairway. The stairs and porch have been replace with a concrete ramp leading from the door to a set of set of abandoned railroad tracks located east of the building. An additional personnel door is located at the western end of the south elevation. This entrance is also raised above ground level, and is accessed by a concrete stairway. A third personnel door was formerly located at the western end of the south elevation. This door was replaced with a large overhead garage door during the 1980s when the building was utilized as a boat manufacturing facility.
One of the most dramatic features of the original 1893 design was the use of corbic gables and dormers. Corbic gables and dormers have stepped edges (Corbic steps) that mask the pitch of the roof or dormer. Corbic steps are most commonly found in northern European masonry and in New World derivatives. Another striking feature of the original Bay City Traction and Electric Company Power Station was the placement of large circular lead fan lights in each of the gables and dormers. In later alterations to the building, these fanlights were removed and bricked over.