Heritage \ Writings \

Forest City House "Hotel" (1859-1949)
Southwest corner Washington Ave. & Sixth St., Bay City.
  • Contributed by Alan Flood (January 2004).
  • The Bay City Times - January 23, 1949


    Old Hotel's Days Numbered.

    The grimy old Forest City house, a relic of Bay City's rollicking lumberjack past, last week under-went a change in ownership, its first in more than a quarter of a century.

    New owner is the Mutual Savings and Loan association, which acquired the property at Washington avenue and Sixth street for future development.

    The move means that for the first time in more than 61 years a member of the pioneer Garrison family will not have a hand in operation of the venerable hotel.

    THE 90 YEAR-OLD structure which still bears the scars of lusty lumberjack battles in its corridors, may one day go the way of all landmarks.

    Louis Rupff, Mutual Savings and Loan association president, in announcing the purchase from the Garrison family said his firm will raze the hotel and erect an office building in its place.

    However, no move is planned for at least two years -- until economic conditions warrant such construction, he said.

    In the meantime the hotel will continue in operation.

    SAID RUPFF: "It is a move to acquire a site that will be both stable and valuable to the association in the future."

    The property, a 100-foot square parcel at the southwest corner of the intersection, also includes Washington Recreation, next door to the hotel.

    L.W. Martindale, real estate broker, handled the sale.

    Those who recall the history of the Forest City house know that it passed through three separate phases each of which lent its own distinctive flavor to the passing parade in Bay City.

    FIRST CAME the robust lumbering days. Later, the Forest City house became the favorite stopping place for farmers to town. And more recently it was a sort of headquarters for the sporting fraternity.

    Christopher Heinzmann, a German who became successful in the meat business here, built the hotel about 1859. Some four or five years later he sold it to his nephew, also named Christopher Heinzmann.

    It was with the latter that John Garrison, father of Louis C. Garrison, Sr., 612 North Trumbull street, join in partnership in 1887.

    LOUIS THEN 15, went to work at the hotel and stay with his father until the latter died in 1921. He took over its operation and continued at the helm until recent years, when failing health forced him to turn active direction over to his wife and son, Louis C. Garrison, Jr., 1503 Center avenue.

    The elder Garrison's earliest recollection are of those now almost legendary lumberjacks who made up the main clientele of the city's numerous hotels (there were 66 in 1887) at the height of the logging days.

    Many of those hardy sons of the north literally left their marks for their heavy calked boots put pelted the wooden floors of all the community's hostelries, including the Forest City house.

    DECIDEDLY particular about where they stayed, the lumberjacks usually patronized the hotels according to the nationality of the owner. Thus, because Heinzmann, the Forest City house had many Germans as guests.

    This clannishness among the lumberjacks often resulted in fights for which they became widely famous. The elder Garrison has recalled times when the Irish lumberjacks, staying at a hotel operated by an Irishman, would start out to "clean up the Dutchmen" at the Forest City. The Germans usually met the invasion with vigor.

    Fists would fly until both sides became exhausted. Finally, with absolutely nothing settled, the lumberjacks would all repair to the bar for cooling refreshments.

    AFTER THE TURN of the century, when the logging industry moved northward, the Forest City catered to farmers and their families. It had a feed stall at the rear where the men could feed their horses and bed them down over night.

    The hotel reputedly served "Frankenmuth-style" dinners long before they ever became famous under that name.

    Later, professional baseball players and umpires used the Forest City house as their living quarters while they were in town.

    One of the more famous of these guests was the former major leaguer, Hazen (Ki Ki) Cuyler, now a coach with the Boston Red Sox. A native of Harrisville, he got his start in organized baseball playing for the old Bay City Wolves.

    Christopher Heinzmann, 1883. - Added August, 2011.

    History of Bay County, Michigan - 1883.

    In the Winter of 1849 Christopher came to Bay City, or Lower Saginaw, as it was then called. At first he worked worked in the mills, then he bought land and cleared it, and then went into business. He went first into the meat business and was very successful. At an early day he built a frame hotel called the Forest City House, on the corner of of Saginaw and Sixth Streets, where Sherman's livery stable now stands. That building was aftrwards burned. The present Forest City House on Washington Street, he bought when the buildng was much smaller than now, and used for a boarding house. He put the property in excellent shape for hotel purposes, and kept it until the Winter of 1882.

    Additional Notes.

      1867 - Henry Goebel and his brother rented the Forest City House.

      1883 - Thomas Luxton was proprietor of the Forest City House.

      1910 - The cost of a room was $1.50 per day versus $2.50 at the Wenonah Hotel.

    Related Notes & Pages
    Forest City Hotel
    1872: Forest City House
    This hotel was built around 1859. At this time Bay City was still a village and most of he population lived in what is now downtown. Most businesses were locate on Water st. while Washington contained a mix of business, residential and church buildings. Today, Independence Bank building is on this property.

    Related pages:
    Heinzmann, Christopher
    Pictorial: 1872 Bay City
    People Referenced
    Cuyler, Hazen "KiKi"
    Garrison, (family)
    Garrison, John
    Garrison, Louis C. Sr.
    Goebel, Henry
    Heinzmann, Christopher
    Luxton, Thomas
    Martindale, L.W.
    Rupff, Louis
    Subjects Referenced
    Baseball players
    Baseball umpires
    Bay City Wolves team
    Boston Red Sox coach
    Center Ave., 1503
    Frankenmuth style food
    Harrisonville, MI
    Horse feed stall
    Lumberjack battles
    Meat business
    Mutual Savings & Loan
    N. Trumbell St., 612
    Sixth St.
    Sporting fraternity
    Washington Ave.
    Washington Recreation
    Wenonah Hotel
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.