Heritage \ Writings \

James Shearer's "Central block" (1879)
Northeast corner of Center & Washington, Bay City, MI.

N.E. corner Washington & Center aves.

1879 news. (Added Jan., 2005)

The Bay City Chronicle & Tribune - December 19, 1879


The TRIBUNE has made frequent reference to the erection of a new block on the corner of Center and Washington streets that has been under consideration for some time past by James Shearer, Esq. The arrangements for the work are well under way and through the courtesy of Mr. Shearer a TRIBUNE reporter was permitted to examine the plans yesterday and obtain an idea of the structure.

The building will be four stories high above the cellar, fronting on Center street and occupying one hundred feet on both Center and Washington streets. The materials will be composed of red brick with trimming of Ohio Amherst stone, black brick and galvanized iron. The roof will be flat, covered with iron, and the main cornice, pinnacles, & e., will be galvanized iron. All the window caps will be composed of Ohio stone and at the base of the windows will be a fine carved stone trimming, alternating with black brick. The effect of the trimming can scarcely be imagined until the work is completed. In point of architectural beauty the block will unquestionably be the finest in the city.

The first floor will be devoted exclusively to stores, with the entrance on Center street. There will be five in number, with a depth of one hundred feet each, fourteen feet ceiling, and French plate windows. The corner store will in all possibility be occupied by L.S. Coman, the druggist. The main entrance will be on Center street, but access to it will also be provided by a door from Washington street. Negotiations are also in progress for all the remaining stores but one. It is not unlikely that one of them will be occupied a dry goods house. In the rear of the stores will be an open paved court, for the convenience of the parties occupying the stores, for the receival and shipment of goods.

The space in the second story over the two stores nearest to Washington street will be divided up into office rooms and finished for occupation by the time the stores are ready. The remaining portion of the building above the ground floor will left unfinished until the demands of our growing city require it. However, this will depend in a great measure upon the uses to which the stores will be devoted. It is a part of Mr. Shearerís plan to arrange the upper floors for the use of the stores below, and in this case the upper stories will be devoted to business purposes, exept the space set off for offices over the stories next to Washington street.

When the building is completed a flag stone pavement, eighteen or twenty feet wide will be put down on both Center and Washington streets. The structure, although not patterned after, will resemble very much what is generally known as the Chandler block, at the corner of Woodward and Jefferson avenues in Detroit. It will be an ornament to Bay City and would be a credit to any city in the Union. The red brick and carved stone and galvanized iron trimmings will distinguish it quite prominently from the other fine blocks in the city.

Active operations will commence about the 1st of January and with favorable weather the cellar will be completed and foundation laid by the middle of March. It is expected that the block will be completed and ready for occupation by the 1st of next October. Henry Holmes of this city will have the contract for the mason work, and the carpenter work will be under the supervision of John W. Shearer.


James Shearer was a well known architect in Detroit prior to moving to Bay City in 1865, and where he lived out the blance of his life. He built two other business blocks besides the one mentioned in this history. The other two are still standing as of the date of this history page.

One was located on the n.e. corner of Center avenue and Water street, commonly known as the old Mill End building. This is a three-story structure, which originally had store fronts on the street level and business offices on the upper levels. The other business block was similar in purpose, except it had four levels. Today is the structure has been renovated, and now has condominiums on the upper levels.

References, Notes & Pages

James Shearer

Related Pages:
Shearer's Biography
People Referenced
Coman, L.S. (druggist)
Holmes, Henry (mason)
Shearer, James
Shearer, John W.
Subjects Reference
Bay City, MI
Chandler blk., Detroit
Detroit, MI
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