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Bay City General

Bay City General

Artists Map of Bay City, 1867

Artist sketch of Bay City from the West Bank looking East across the Saginaw River. In the lower left section is the old Third Street Bridge connecting the businesses districts. To upper right is the Middle Grounds.

The West side area from the bridge to the Middle Grounds along the Saginaw River is now the Memorial Park.

Aerial View of Bay City

Photo showing the downtown area looking northwest to the Saginaw Bay. In the bottom left corner is the developing Veterans Memorial Park. Notice that the old Third Street Bridge is still standing that connected Midland Business District to the east side downtown area.


(Sequence by street names.)

The East Side business district bustles with shops in buildings dating back to the early late 1800s and early 1900s.

Roof Top View #1, 1912

This is the first of three roof top views of the downtown east side business area. This view is taken roughly from Madison Street with a view to left of Center Ave.

Roof Top View #2, 1912

This is the second of three roof top views of the downtown east side business area. This view is roughly taken from Madison Street with towards Center Ave.

Roof Top View #3, 1912

This is the third of three roof top views of the downtown east side business area. This view is roughly taken from Madison Street with a view southeast. To the right the old Railroad depot provides a benchmark reference.

Michigan Central RR Station - 1907
Location: First st. (btwn. Monroe & VanBuren)

This beautiful stone faced structure was demolished sometime after 1960. Only the storage building was saved and is still in use today.

Michigan Central Railroad Station, 1915
Location: First st. (btwn. Monroe & VanBuren)

A view of the MCRR depot looking northeast, tracks are on other side of building. Most of the area is now a part of the Vanpoppelen Brothers business and is used for open storage.

Third Street Bridge, 1907
Location: Connected Midland & Third streets.

This swing span bridge connection the east and west business districts. It spanned the river at Third Street and Midland Street. One evening the swing span was damaged by a ship and never repaired leading eventually to it being replaced by the Libery Bridge at Woodside.

Red Rock Beverage, 1949
Location: Third st. (btwn. Water & Saginaw)

Lined up on the north side of the street are delivery trucks in front of Red Rock Beverage building. Style Master Seat Covers and Vic & Ben Family Food Market. Today, the Red Rock building is occupied on the left by Intermission Deli and Phoenix Antiques on the right.

Breens Bicycle Shop
Location: Third Street (near Johnson)

This is Breens original building, later it became a hardware business. Sign below the upper level reads, 'Cigar Factory No. 206'. Its not clear whether this was ran by Breens or rented out. Later, Breens expanded to the building on the n.w. corner of 3rd & Johnson next to this small building. Created for Caring now occupies that building.

Denison Block

Erected in 1883 by E.B. Denison. He had an apple orchard at his residence on Center Avenue.

Rouech House, abt. 1890
Location: s.w. corner of Fifth & Water sts.

Built in 1868 by Azel N. Rouech.
Room rates were $0.50 and $0.75.
In early 1900s it became the Park Hotel named after near-by Wenonah Park, then the Kimbark Hotel.

Imperial Bar

This popular spot downtown was located in the Imperial Hotel. The hotel opened in 1904 and was close to Pere Marquette Railroad Station, the county building and downtown area. Besides the bar, it had a barbershop.

  • Contact us if you can add to this history.

    Jone Clinic

    The Jones Clinic was one of the first modern medical office buildings which include a basic lab. The clinic was by Dr. Jerry M. Jones who specialize in surgery. They clinic included a number of doctors that specialized in different aspects of medicine.

  • View history at {1916 Article}

    Water Carnival, 1930
    Location: Sixth & Water sts.

    This large swimming pool was built in only six days for the appearance of Johnny Wiesmuller, an olympian that became a famous movie star playing Tarzan.

    Mercy Hospital
    Location: 16th st., btwn. Franklin & Water

    Mercy Hospital had its beginning in 1899 when the Catholic Church purchased the three-story home of Mayor Nathan Bradley at 15th and Howard st. Before this, the nearest hospital was in Saginaw. This picture shows the fine red-brick structure that still stands today. At this time the Elizabeth McDowell Bialy Memorial Home for Nurses was a part of the complex. It closed it doors in 1964. In 1980 the abandoned Mercy Hospital building was renovated into a subsidized apartment building used for senior citizens and was named the Bradley House.

    Machine Shop, 1882
    Location: 26th & Water sts.

    This machine shop was just south of Lafayette, near Brennen Marine Company. Known individuals in the photo are Meade Clover, John Jackson and Mike Garland.

    Fire Brigade, early 1900s
    Location: n.e. corner Adams & McKinley.

    Company No. 8's truck was destroyed in a collision with a Michigan Central Passenger Train on July 5, 1915. Relief Driver Edwin Jolly and Pipeman Henry Fletcher were killed. Martin Thiesemeyer, Charles Scupack and George Klem received serious injuries. Assistant Chief Thomas Lourim and Captain Archeambeau received minor injuries.

  • Photographs and the preceding information can be found in A History of the Bay City Fire Department compiled by the Bay City Fireman's Mutual Benefit Association and published on April 1, 1918. Pages 21 and 22.)
    Source: John Kostuch, Essexville Fire Dept.

    Pere Marquette RR Station, 1910
    Location: Boutell Place, 1 blk s. of County Building

    Built in 1904 when railroads dominated mass-transit of goods and people. A 1915 article in The Bay City Times reported 31 passenger trains were running daily to and from Bay City."

    Pere Marquette Building, 2002
    Location: Boutell Place.

    A contemporary photo of the building. Missing are the roof dormers and the grand tower. Paved parking lot cover the areas were train tracks once were.

    Memorial to Chief O-ge-ma Ke-ga-to
    Location: 2100 Broadway (Roosevelt Park).

    Memorial to Chippewa Indian Chief, the plaque reads:

    This bolder is erected to the memory of O-ge-ma ke-ga-to, Chief speaker of the Chippewas. Born about 1794, elected Chief 1815, spoke at treaty, 1819 before Congress 1837: Died 1840. -- First buried on property now known as Twenty Second and Water Streets in colonel's uniform of the American Revolution - A gift from President Jefferson, who was impressed with his great eloquence and intelligence. -- Reburied in 1877, on property of William R. McCormick. His remains now rest beneath this stone in the locality where he held his councils. -- Placed by Anne Frisby Fitzhugh Chapter -- Daughters of the American Revolution -- July 4, 1923

    Center Avenue

    Bay City Club, Bay City

    This building was an elegant facilities for a businessmen's club that preceeded today's Chamber of Commerce. This structure was utlimately demolished to make room for commercial expansion. The Alert Bowling alley was located here for many years until it was destroyed by fire.

    Downtown Business District, 1909
    Location: Center ave., looking east from Water.

    Down the middle of the road are tracks for the electric powered streetcars which shared the road with horse-buggies. The steeple of the First Baptist church (corner Center & Madison) can be seen in the distant background.

    Downtown Business District, 1930s or 40s
    Location: Center ave. looking east.

    Automobiles now dominate the roadway along with the streetcar system. Down the left side is what appears to be a leather/linen repair shop. Further down is the Liberal Clothing Co.. To the right is an entrance of Wenonah Hotel, further down a barber shop and a block further on the corner is Louis Drug.

    First County Court House Building.

    Shown is the former county government building that had to be torn to make way for the present structure. After Bay County was organized in 1857, meetings were held at a building owned by James Fraser at the foot of 4th ave. near the river. This location was near the site of the first structure built here, a log-cabin erected by Leon Trombley in 1831.

  • Donated by Clarence & Gladys Stroemer.

    1905: Colonial Hotel & Apartments

    The Colonial opened in July 1905 as a hotel and apartment complex owned by C. D. Vail in what was the former W. D. Young residence.

  • See Heritage/Writings {Article}

    Wenonah Hotel, 1910
    Location: 100-04 Center ave. & Water st.

    The hotel opened in 1908 and was billed as being 'fire proof' unlike the Fraser Hotel that preceeded it and was destroyed by fire. The Wenonah Hotel was the pride of the community until it fell on hard times and many of its rooms became residential dwellings. It was destroyed by fire in 1977. The Delta College Planetarium occupies this spot today.

    Wenonah Hotel, 1912
    Location: 100-04 Center ave. & Water st.

    Another view from same spot two years later.

    Wenonah Hotel, 1935
    Location: 100-04 Center ave.

    View of hotel from the Wenonah Park which has changed significantly since this picture.

    Delta College Planetarium, 2002
    Location: 100 Center ave.

    The modern design of the planetarium provides a dramatic contrast to the many historic buildings surrounding it. A view of this modern architecture from the west side of the river. The planetarium was made possible by educational funding through NASA.

    Delta College Planetarium, 2002
    Locaton: 100 Center ave.

    The sign of the Mill End store is captured in this photo of the planetarium. The side-structures off the planetarium's dome are used for offices, class rooms and conferences.

    Mill End Store
    Location: 101 Center & Water st.

    The Mill End Store anchors the n.e. corner of Center and Water sts. This three-story building was built by James Shearer and was known as the Shearer block. Herman Hiss Jewelry, located on Washington, had its beginning in this building in 1867.

    Averell Block
    Located: Center Ave., between Water and Washington.

    At the time of this picture Devlin's College occupied a portion of the building, others included Leavens Book store, Grabowsky Millinery, and Michigan Central Rwy.

  • Photo & research courtesy Alan Flood.

    Downtown District at Night
    Location: Center ave., view west from Adams.

    This artist's image captures a busy evening in downtown. On the bottom left is the sign of Smith, dentist.

    Downtown District, 1909
    View of Center Ave. west from Jefferson.

    At the end of Center near the river are buildings along Water st. where Wenonah Park is today. To the right, a horse and buggy are parked in front of buildings that are now gone. A block down on the right is are two buildings built by James Shearer; the Center Block on the corner of Center and Washington and the Shearer Bros. on Center.

    Board of Commerce
    Located: Center Ave. #413.

    The Board of Commerce was formed in 1910. In 1922, William King was president and in 1923, the name was changed to the Chamber of Commerce.

    What happened to this building is unknown. The 1923 Polk directory shows no listing at this address, but in 1931 the Schoppen Groto Club is listed, this may have been a different building.

    An organization of Bay City business men has existed since 1865 such as the Bay City Business Men's Associaton and the Bay City Board of Trade(1898). Today, it is the Bay City Chamber of Commerce.

    Sheriff's Jail, 2002
    Location: 500 Center, across from County Bldg.

    The old Sheriff's building has been used for storage of county records during recent times. Its destined for demolishing as a new Central Library Building will takes its space.

    First Baptist Church, 1873
    Location: 600 Center Ave. & Madison (s.e. corner).

    A parking lot now covers the space where this majestic church building once towered in the sky over Bay City.

    Perry House Residence, 1919
    Location: 2230 Center ave.

    >Ernest Blackman Perry (1868-1927) built this house in 1899 which was designed by Dillion Prosser Clark. Perry was President of the Industrial Works and was at the helm when the company merged with Industrial Brownhoist of Cleveland.

    Home Unknown
    Location: Center ave.

    One of the many mansions from the lumbering era that line Center Ave. Notice the horse and in the back, a large horse and buggy stable.

    Clarkson Baseball Park
    Location: Center Ave., s. of Livingston

    Built in 1909, the park was named after John G. Clarkson a local player who went onto the professionals becoming a Hall of Fame player.

  • See Featured People in the Heritage Library for more on him.

    Central High School
    Location: 1624 Columbus

    Built in 1922. The third floor once housed the Bay City Junior College. It closed when Delta College was built.

    St. James Church, 1868
    Location: Columbus & Monroe.

    St. James Church was founded in 1867. Shown is the first church building that opened in 1868. Fire destroyed it in 1884. A second building was erected at this spot in 1885. In 1978, its tower was struck by lightening causing a fire and extensive damages forcing the congregation to rebuild the current church building.

    Geo. Hodgins Blacksmith Shop
    Location: 12st & Garfield

    From the looks of this old building, it appears the second level may have been George's residence. The sign painted above garage door reads, GeoHODGINS Horseshoeing & General Blacksmithing. To the right is an advertisement for Owl Cigars.

    Masonic Temple
    Located: Corner of Madison and Sixth.

    View south at the Masonic Temple with its oranate roof the was destroyed by fire and never replaced. On the left is the south portion of the First Baptist church.

    Eastern High School
    Located: Madison Ave., S. of Columbus

    Eastern was located where the present YMCA is today. The school opened in 1882 with students transferring from the Farragut school building. The school was turned into a Junior highs school in 1922 when Central high school on Columbus opened.

    Harness Shop
    Location: Saginaw st., btw. Center & 5th.

    Pictured is owner, Henry M. Hemstreet standing in the doorway. It appears from his dress that he made the harnesses sold at the store.

    Police Dept. & City Hall (abt 1887)
    Located: e.s. of Saginaw st., btw. Center & 5th.

    Caption 1937 Bay City Times: Shown above is the Bay city Police Department of fifty years ago, posed before the old City Hall, that stood on Saginaw Street, between Center and Fifth Avenues. Of this group, two are now living: Malen Johnson, 110 Fitzhugh Street, 6th from the right, and Hiram Johnson, 112 Fraser Street, 8th from the right. Others identified in the picture include Sergeant George Hemstreet, 1st on the right, Robert Wallace, 7th from the right, Chris Wackerly, 9th from the right, Joseph Radcliff, 11th from the right, Samuel Catlin, 13th from the right, Seageant William Coles 2nd from the left, and William Bartlett, 6th from the left. The driver of the wagon is Gil Langdon, with Capt. Wyman, looking around his right shoulder.

    Washington Avenue

    Federal Building, 1908
    Location: 1000 Washington ave.

    Built in 1893, this structure was torn down and replaced by another in 1930. The grounds for the building covers and entire block, Washington (west), Adams (east), 3rd (north) and 4th (south).

    Davidson Block
    Located: s.e. Corner of Washington Ave. and 4th.

    This huge white marble faced building expands over a quarter of a block. It carries the name of Capt. James Davidson, an esteem shipbuilder and businessman of this city. At one time it housed the elegeant Regeant Theater in the center of the building. The building remains a popular spot for small buinesses.

    1950: View along Washington from 5th St.

    The large sign hangs above the H.G. Wendland & Co. store is now gone. Next to it the is the eye glass business of Max McKay O.D.. On the corner is the Bay City Bank building which is now covered with an aluminum facade. South of Center the Mary Lee candy store, the LeeBawshoe and leather repair shop, and further down the original Sears Roebuck store.

    Woods Opera House
    Location: Washington & 6th, s.e. corner.

    On September 17, 1885 this grand theater opened with a performance by the Emma Abbott Opera Co., three days later Edwin Booth thrilled the audience. It was destroyed by fire in 1902. The Washington Theater (Strand) was built on its foundation. The theater was torn down in 1963 and is now a parking lot.

    View North from 6th Street. - 1920s

    A view of what shopping downtown would have been like during the 1920s and the model-T era. Running down the middle of the street are the tracks for the electric streetcar system.

    Abt. 1920s: View North from just beyond 6th

    Early painting showing the east side of Washington Street. Up front is the Washington theater on n.e. cor. of 6th where the Woods Opera House originally was located.

    McEwan Block
    Located: e.s. of Washington Ave., between Sixth and Center Ave.

    Forest City Hotel
    Located: n.w. corner of Washington & 6th st.

    Erected 1859 by Christopher Heinzmann, and was a very popular place with the early lumber men. This building replaced the original building built in 1854 which was destroyed by fire. In 1950 this building was demolished to make room for the headquarters of Mutual Savings and Loan, and is now home of the Independence Bank.

    City Hall
    Located: n.e. corner of Washington & 10th.

    Built in 1897, planners design the building to serve a city 500,000, which they believed was going to happened based on the city's early growth. The original city hall is still standing and is located on Saginaw Street between Center & 5th.

    Armory Building
    Located: s.w. corner Washington Ave. (#321) * 9th.

    The building is now used by the Bay County Historical Society Museum. The National Guard vacated in favor of a new building on Henry St. The old Armory was used for many public actitivies such as bowling, dancing and golden glove fights.

    Kresge Department Store
    Located: n.e. corner Washington & Center.

    Kresge was a favorite downtown destination for many shoppers. It carried a large variety of good, had a diner, and a donut shop located next to a window on the Center Ave. side where shoppers could see donuts being made, making it difficult to resist buying a few to take home.

    2002: Kresge Building

    Today the building is used primarily as office space for various businesses and shops.

    Crapo Block
    Located: s.e. corner of Washington & Center.

    This building is still standing except it has been refaced. The building dates back to the late 1800s and has housed a banking business throughout its history.

    Bank Block (1890s) cor.

    This view looks down the east side of Washington from Center towards 6th street. South of the bank on the s.e. corner of 6th street can be seen the Woods Opera House which is a parking lot today. The Opera House was the city's first building devoted theater.

    Downtown District, abt. 1930s
    Location: Washington ave., view s. from 4th.

    Most of these buildings are still standing today except new businesses are located in them. At this time streetcar tracks and embedded bricks were still in place.
    Down the left side can be seen the marquee of the Regent Theater. One block down on 5th is the LaPorte Building. On the right side is the Orpheum Theater marquee (now State Theater). The marquee announces the showing of The Broadway Peacock and bargain matinee seats are only 20 cents. Off in the distance the City Hall bell tower can be seen.

    Water Street

    1950: View S. from corner of Water St. & 7th.

    To the right is Duro Plumbing & Heating and Chatfield Bean Grain. On the left side is Lee & Cady Wholesalers, and beyond it is the sign of Consumers Power Co. At the end of the street is the Industrial Works facilities.

  • 2005: Per Phil Draper - The Consumer's sign is mounted above an underground gas tank which was a relatively new method at that time.

    1905: Trombley House
    n.e. corner of Water St. & 24th.

    This was the first frame structure in Bay City, it was built by the Trombley brothers in about 1839. It was a well used residence and apartment building for many years until the Bay County Historica Society acquired it. In 1986 it was moved across the river to Veterans Memorial Park.

    Downtown District, abt. 1900
    Location: Water St. at end of Center Ave..

    To the left-front is the entrance to Wenonah Hotel, on the west side of Water St. are buildings that were demolished when the Wenonah Park was built. The Bay City Tribune newspaper was located here. Also the Defoe Motor and Boat Works.

    Delta College Planetarium
    n.e. corner of Water St. & Center Ave.

    Another view of the Delta Planetarium from Wenonah Park with the friendship fountain ring off to the right.

    Downtown District, 1905
    View north.

    The building on the right is the Shearer block which was housed a variety of businesses. Later it became the Mill End Store.

    Downtown District
    Water St., end of Center.

    View of Wenonah Park near the river's edge. In the back is the Shearer building on the life and Wenonah Hotel on right.

    2004: Wenonah Park Bandshell

    The bandshell sits on the north end of the park and is the hot spot for live entertainment during the Summer. Appearances include local and professional entertainment several days each week.

    Shipyard of Defoe Shipbuilding Co.
    Location: Woodside (river's edge).

    In 1909, Harry Defoe gave up his job as a principle at Parker School and got into the shipbuilding business picking up where shipbuilders Wheeler and Davidson left off. During it's heyday (1940s - 1960s), Defoe was one of the city's top employers. They made anything from luxury yachts to military vessels. The property is now owned by the Omni Source.

    Defoe Roll Over Technique - 1942

    This 1942 photo and article from The Bay City Times shows the umique method used by Defoe to speed up their process for building ships during WWII. The ship's hull was made upside down then rolled over to complete the process.

    Ship Launching - 1942

    A crowd looks on as the destroyer escort USS Rich is launched.

    Ship Launching

    The launching of a partially completed ship that would have been typical of the 1940 & 50s at Defoe. Once the final work was completed, ships were test on cruise around the Saginaw Bay.

    Defoe Shipyard Slip - 2002

    Photo take from the Liberty showing the old primary slip used for launching ships. In front is a portion of the MCRR railroad bridge that crosses the river at this point.

    MCRR Railroad Bridge - 2002
    Woodside Ave.., near Rail Road Bridge.

    View of the open swing-span of the railroad bridge located just north of the Liberty Bridge. The bridge is still used but is left open for river navigation until it's needed for a passing train.


    Frank & Joes Bar, early 1900s
    Location: Linn st., 1 blk. north of Midland.

    Still a popular tavern, but is now known as Steamers

    1908: Swart Jewelry, 1908
    Location: Linn & John sts.

    A new car passed by around 4:50 p.m. and catches the attention of few people standing in front of Swart's store.

    Arlington Hotel, 1884
    Location: 201 Linn st.

    The building was erected in 1868 for the Bunnel House owned by the Bunnell brothers. They sold it to Louis Potter in 1882 and he changed the name to the Arlington Hotel. Shown is a group of ballplayers dressed in their uniforms for what must have been a special game or activity that day. The sign in front on the wagon with the donkey says, 'Me Se ANOTHER Fellow pich TODAY.'

    Michigan Central RR Depot, 1912
    Location: Marquette st.

    One of several depots on the west side during the ear of trains.

    Michigan Central RR Depot, 1900s
    Location: Marquette st.

    View north of the depot's front side showing a small small crowd waiting for the arrival of the next train.

    PC Smith Store
    Location: Marquette at Patterson

    Store owned by lumber baron P.C. Smith. Notice the wood side walk and the boom above the entrance a door used to get goods to the second storage level.

    Midland St. District
    Location: View north from Henry down Midland st.

    The district had its beginning in 1865 when the Sage & McGraw Mill erected in what was then wilderness land. The company town known was know as Wenona and later became West Bay City.
    On the left is the old West Town theater.

    Midland St. District
    View s.e. on Midland St.

    Another view of this historic district. Shown is Billings 5&10 store, the third building further down is the West Town theater.

    Fisher Block
    n.e. corner of Midland & Walnut.

    Erected by Spencer O. Fisher: This fine building still highlights the historical Midland street business district. Mr. Fisher was a prominent businessman and politician, serving as mayor of West Bay City and a representative in the U.S. Congress. Fisherville is named after him.

    Sage Library
    Location: Wenonah & Midland sts.

    This beautiful structure was erected in 1884 and is registered as a national historical landmark. It is named after Henry Sage who donated the funding for the building of it. A major restoration was completed in 2004.

    1910: Western High School
    s.w. corner Midland & Wenona.

    Western closed down when Central high school opened in 1922. In 1925 the building was demolished with the building of the Allen Medical office.

    Davidson Shipyard, 1898
    Location: Veterans Memorial Park.

    Shown is the 1898 launching of the Amazonas a wood steamer and the 87th built by the yard. Capt. James Davision opened the shipyard in 1874 which became well known as one of the best yards for large schooners.


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