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Public Buildings & Places (1875)
of Bay City, MI.

Transcribed May 2008.

The History Commercial Advantages and Future Prospects of Bay City, Michigan Published
by Henry S. Dow, 1875.


In another part of this work will be found some descriptions of the school and church buildings of Bay City. Several of them are among the most sightly and beautiful of the public buildings of the city.

Among the notable structures of the town we name first the county building, standing on opposite sides of Center street, at a short distance from Water street, or very near the business centre of the city. The court-house is a very substantial and good looking building, of brick, with a handsome lawn in front, ornamented with shrubbery, and a large fountain. The court-room is said to be the best in the State, and is large and with high ceiling. The building is supplied with water throughout, and cost about $40,000.

Almost directly opposite the court-house is the county jail, a two-story brick building, very effectively ornamented, and make of what is usually only a unsightly pile of brick and stone, a noteworthy addition to the architectural adornments of the beautiful squares on which it fonts. The cost of the jail was about $35,000.

The Westover block (Opera House) is a four-story brick building, front on Center street, and in the heart of the city. The opera hall is capable of seating comfortably 1,200 person, and is one of the handsomest and best arranged places of amusement in the State.

The Cranage block was erected in 1873-4. It fronts on Center street and is one block above the Opera House. It is a three-story brick, with all the modern improvements, water and closets to the third floor, etc. The block has a front of 100 feet, and the first floor affords some of the finest salesrooms to be found in the city.

The Bank block is next west of the Cranage. At the end of this is the First National bank, in a building three stories, with solid stone fronts on two streets, and very substantial and handsome

Further down Center street is the Munger block, a three-story brick elegantly fitted throughout, having handsome stores on the first floor, plate glass fronts, etc.

The Fraser House is a four-story and basement brick building, of good external appearance, and massive in its frontage on two streets.

Opposite the Fraser are the Shearer and Averell blocks, both three story brick, the former being on the corner of Water and Center streets, and containing four stores.

The Union block is on Water street opposite the Fraser House. It is a fine three-story brick building.

Next north of the last-mention building is the Watson block, a massive four-story brick, with French roof towering high, and making a sightly pile as one looks down Centre street.

Nearly opposite on Water street is the McCormick block, four stories in height, of brick, and having on if the handsomest front in the city.

Further down Water street, one block, is the McEwen block, 100 feet front, a three-story brick, of handsome appearance throughout.

Nearly opposite is the Jennison block, about 100 feet front, of brick, and as substantially and solidly built as any structure of the kind in the State.

Still further down Water street is the Birney block, a three-story and basement brick, of good external appearance.

On the corner of Third and Waters streets, the Campbell House, a three story brick block, stands, and on the opposite corner is the Park block, also a three-story brick.

There are many handsome stores in blocks not numerated above, some of the finest rooms for businesses being in single buildings of two stories, but the about are the principal of the large blocks. The whole business portion of the city is in remarkably good style, and the streets have a thrifty, clean look, which tells of rapid development.


The Bay City Library Association had a library of about 5,000 volumes, and in the spring of 1874, and arrangement was perfected for a union of this library with the public library, all to be under the care of the Board of Education. There was a balance of several thousand dollars to the credit of the public library fund, and a part of the agreement was to the effect that this balance should be expended as far as might be judicious in the purchase of new books. The fund was sufficient to ensure a large collection of books, and the library of the Association afforded the most excellent nucleus.


Bay City is comfortably provided with hotels, both as to number and quality. The Fraser House, a four-story brick, heads the list as the leading first-class house of the city. Its apartments are commodious and handsomely furnished, and its fare is the best. The Campbell House comes next, a convenient three-story brick building, with a good number of well-appointed rooms, and everything in good style. There are many other good hotels of a less expensive sort, among which may be mentioned the Taylor and Astor house in the southern part of the city, and the Globe, Wolverton, Forest City and others in the central part.


Bay City is liberally supplied with public parks and pleasure grounds. The most central of these are the four squares on Center street, in the very heart of the city, upon two of which the county buildings front. The city has just erected two ornamental fountains upon the eastern squares, which are supplied from the Holly water works. In the yard of the county court house there is a larger fountain, and all these ground are set with shade trees and shrubbery.

At a distance of about one mile from the river, and just to the north of Center street, is Carroll Park, a track of land given to the city by Mr. C. C. Fitzhugh for a park. The ground is partly wooded and partly open, and the city has already begun the improvement of it by the construction of well-turnpiked drives through the wooded portion in various directions. The tract is quite extensive, and will in time be a very convenient and attractive resort.

There are two other public parks in the city one embracing the ground between Washington, Second, First and Jefferson streets (1), and one of the same size between Ninth and Tenth streets (2). These grounds have been set with ornamental trees, and will in time be very ornamental to their neighborhoods. The probability is that extreme southern wards will soon secure the dedication of a suitable tract for a park in that locality.

It will be seen that in all the haste and bustle of a rapidly growing and always bus city, matters of beauty and healthfulness have received due attention.


Pine Ridge Cemetery was laid out by Hon. James Birney. It is well located on the Tuscola Plank road, near the city limits, and the grounds are sufficiently extensive and have been considerably improved. There are several private vaults and monuments of more than ordinary excellence in design and execution.

The Catholic Cemetery is located south of Pine Ridge, and has ample grounds well kept.

(1) Reference is to Washington Park.
(2) Reference is to Birney Park (aka. Madison Ave. Park).
Related Pages & Notes
In 1875 Bay City's geographical represent only the east side of the Saginaw River. On the river's west side at that time was West Bay City.

Battery Park
  • Park Place
    Currenty known as "Battery Park" (shown in above photo) was created using the four corners of the Center Ave. and Jefferson St. intersection.
  • South Bay City Park
    Is now the "Roosevelt Park" on the westside of Broadway.
  • Madison Park
    Presently known as "Birney Park" named after James Birney or his father James G. Birney. Both were prominent leaders in the early days of this community.
  • Washington Ave. Park
    This park was located on the eastside of Washington at the northend of downtown where the Bay Transit bus depot now stands. After WWII, quanset huts were erected there as temporary quarters.
  • Carroll Park
    This park located north of Center and east off Park avenue is still in service.

    Battery Pk. Cannons. Pictorials/
  • People Referenced
    Birney, James Judge
    Fitzhugh, C. C.
    Subjects Referenced
    Astor House
    Averell block
    Bank block
    Bay City, MI
    Bay City Library Assoc.
    Birney block
    Birney park
    Board of Education
    Cambell House
    Catholic cemetery
    County building
    County jail
    Court house
    Court room
    Canage block
    First National bank
    Forest City House
    Four squares park
    Fraser House
    Globe Hotel
    Jennison block
    McCormick block
    McEwen block
    Munger block
    Opera House
    Park block
    Pine Ridge cemetery
    Shearer block
    Taylor House
    Union block
    Washington park
    Watson block
    Westover block
    Wolverton House
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.