My mother lived in Concord Michigan for a number of years before she had to relocate to live near us in Mount Prospect Illinois due to her health. My mother’s sister, who was married to the President of Coca Cola, built a large new home in Concord for my mom to live in…about a block from the post office...You have to go to the Post Office to pick up your mail...and 2 blocks from the center of this historic and classic small Midwestern town. My mother died in 1995, her commemorative service was held here in Concord at the First Presbyterian Church (built in 1911) and she is buried here in the Maple Grove Cemetery (ca. 1851).
Concord is just about 15 miles outside of Jackson Michigan just off of Hwy MI 60, and it is in Jackson County. The town, or at least its extensive historical district, represents a typical late 19th and early 20th century agricultural and mill settlement in south central Michigan. The Concord Village Historic District includes the entire historic commercial district of the village as well as the surrounding early residential area. The entire District includes 120 structures, of which 106 of them are contributing buildings.
Starting in the commercial section of the Historic District, this is Brigham’s Hardware Store at 119 North Main Street. Three generations of the Brigham’s family have owned and operated this iconic community commercial anchor. With the exception of a modern expansion at the left of this photo, the remainder of the business occupies buildings that were built ca. 1880.
During my research I discovered that the current owner/operator of Brigham’s Hardware Store has decided to turn the business over to someone else and he’s looking for someone to take over this profitable hardware store. Interested? Check it out at https://concordtownshipmi.org/2022/01/19/multi-generational-landmark-family-business-for-sale/.
This 2-story Italianate brick commercial building with metal cornice, square-head windows and a pressed metal cornice was built during the 1890s. When my mother lived in Concord, this was Shannon’s Grocery Store. Like Brigham’s Hardware Store is currently, this too was a key element in Concord’s livability. After 50 years in the grocery business, the Shannon’s gave it up in 2012. Now the closest full line grocery store is about 5.5 miles away in Spring Arbor Michigan.
This is the former Farmer’s State Bank at 101 South Main Street in Concord. It was built in 1900, replacing the original bank which burned down. This is a relatively rare building style…a single story flat iron shaped glazed brick structure with a tower, on a dressed stone foundation. Why only one story? It was because the bank had observed that the fire department couldn’t sustain a proper stream of water to attack the fire on the second floor. Another bank was operating here when my mother lived in Concord…and my mother just loved to go to the bank. It was like a social activity.
Back in the early days of the automobile, one wing of this bank building served as a Chevrolet dealership. I’m not sure what “The Vault” is that now occupies the old bank building but the name is appropriate.
The bank…and Concord itself…briefly made national news in 1917 when a gang of robbers took over the town. They cut the telegraph lines and sectioned off the city. They threatened to shoot anyone they met in the streets and to dynamite any house where the lights were on! Then they blew up the bank vault and drove away with $18,200…that is over $420,000 in today’s dollars! They were never caught!
The Woodmen Lodge Hall which lodged the Modern Woodmen of America – Concord Camp, was built in 1900. It replaced the Wetmore Opera House which had burned down along with the bank in 1899. This 2-story false front brick Italianate structure with its 3 oculus windows and massive fieldstone foundation opened in January of 1901. The opening was celebrated with “a high class vaudeville and minstrel show”.
After the local high school burned down in 1943, the old opera house served as a classroom, provided a basketball court and it housed the school library. After the new school was built in 1953, the building served at St. Catherine Laboure Catholic Church until 1996. The old opera house is now owned by the village.
As regards the “Modern Woodmen of America”, the organization and its history is too lengthy to explain here. Suffice it to say, since its founding in 1890, it has evolved into WoodmenLife, a not-for-profit fraternal benefit society based in Omaha Nebraska. It operates a large privately held insurance company for its members.
This 2-story Italianate brick commercial structure was built ca. 1880 and it is located at 104 South Main Street. That corner retail space has been home to a plethora of local businesses, with the most recent being an apparently failed Italian Bistro. That Mail Pouch Tobacco sign has been on the building for as long as I can remember.
A bit of Concord History…
The town was first settled in 1832 and initially it was known as Van Fossenville. A couple of years later it was changed to Concord to symbolize the harmony and agreement shared by early settlers. Most of the early residents of Concord came from New England and New York…with an influx of German’s in the mid-1850s. The town’s burgeoning early economy was based on local wheat production and its flour mills.
Yet another 2-story Italianate brick commercial building. This one was built in 1886 and it’s at 102 North Main Street. I wonder when those glass blocks were added… Apparently, it is home for the publisher of an advertising guide. I love the photos of the local 2022 High School graduates.
More about the History of Concord…
The arrival of the Air Line Railroad division of the Michigan Central Railroad in 1871 spurred the growth of business in town. There was a buggy works, a depot, a grain elevator, a livestock yard and ‘The Concord Independent’, one of two local newspapers. In addition, there was a hotel, a livery, 5 flour mills, 3 doctors, 3 general stores, 2 wagon makers, 3 insurance agents, 2 lumber stores, 2 hardware stores, a meat market and a jeweler. In 1906, Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West Show put on one of his spectacular shows in Concord.
The Behling Brothers Garage is one of the ‘new’ buildings in the Historic Commercial District. Located at 124 North Main Street, this structure served as the home of an early Ford dealership.
A Little More Concord History…
Concord was officially incorporated as a village in 1871. By 1880 the village was home to 540 residents. In 1940, that number has risen to 618. When my mother lived there, over 900 people called Concord home. There is hope of some revival as regards the historic business structures in the center of town. This is one small town that keeps growing. In the 2020 census, 1,085 residents were recorded.
Now let’s move on to a few of the homes in the residential portion of the Concord Historic District… The residential district is comprised of wood frame vernacular Greek revival, Gothic revival, Italianate and Craftsmen style homes. The number of old homes (1920 or much earlier) within about 4 blocks of the village center is quite remarkable. Many of them are stunning but not pictured here…but I could find some details on the following homes.
This house with the big pillars is the Spratt House at 303 South Main Street. This 2-story Italianate home with a cupola was built in 1876. In 1920, the owner removed the Italianate entry and added those columns. The property is still home to the original barn and ‘summer house’.
FYI, a summer house traditionally refers to a building or shelter that is used for relaxation in warm weather. They are designed to provide cool shady places to relax or retreat from the summer heat. Back in the 1800s, with no air conditioning, they provided a comfortable retreat from the more closed in homes of the time.
This is the best known home in Concord. The Mann House at 205 Hanover Street is a 2 and a half story cross-gabled Eastlake structure that was built in 1884. It has been designated as a Michigan State Historic Site and it has a separate listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been operated as a museum since 1970.
This late Victorian style home is covered with clapboard siding. A carriage house is located behind the house. The home has 3 entrances to the house with 3 porches of varying size.
FYI, clapboard is also called bevel siding, lap siding and weatherboard. Basically, it is wooden siding of a building in the form of horizontal boards, often overlapping.
My mother donated several items to the Mann House including a doll house with antique dolls we’d purchased for her along with other period pieces appropriate to the time period when the sisters lived in the home.
Jessie Ellen Mann was a teacher who stayed in her family home. Her sister Mary Ida had gone to the Philippine Islands as a teacher. When Mary Ida’s husband died in 1942, she moved back to her childhood home to live with her sister. They continued to live there until their deaths. Jessie Ellen died in 1969 and the sister’s wills bequeathed the house to the people of Michigan. All of their belongings…from furniture to clothing and their extensive library, now tell the story of the independent, self-sufficient and forward-thinking women who lived here for 86 years. To learn more and to see related photos, go to https://www.michigan.gov/mhc/museums/mann.
I couldn’t find out too much information about this home at 205 South Main Street. It may not look like it, but this one-and-one-half story coursed cobblestone house with its mansard roof is 175 years old this year! It is named the Hamlin Tyler House and it was built in 1847. This is the only cobblestone house in Concord and it is one of only about fifty such houses in the entire state of Michigan.
I’m not crazy about the color but this house at 436 Hanover Street was built in 1890 in the same style as the Mann House. I do like the gable front and the overall appearance of this home. It has been well maintained. Love those big trees!
This one-story Greek revival home with a second story ‘monitor’ was built in 1846. In 1897 Truman and Cora Hubbard rented this house from the Paddock family, purchasing it in 1902. The original carriage house is also on the property. Truman Hubbard’s farm just east of the village was the site of the first producing oil well in Jackson County. The couple’s daughter set up a foundation to ensure that the home would be preserved as a museum after her death in 1991. The Paddock-Hubbard home has been designated as a Michigan Historical Site.
If this home at 214 Homer Street looks familiar, it should. This Greek revival structure, the Goodwin House was built in the 1850s by the same builder who built the Paddock-Hubbard House. Laurie and I have always loved the look of this house which is almost across the street from my mother’s former residence. The original owner had it set well back from the street on the south bluff of the north branch of the Kalamazoo River. (I zoomed in for this photo) The location allowed Goodwin a good view of his extensive holdings as well as his 2 flour mills. The home has been lovingly maintained over these many years…
I thought that I’d end this post with a photo of the First Universalist Church at 200 Hanover Street. This New England style church has 2 aisles and box pews. It was built in 1866 by a Universalist Society that was formed by 13 families back in 1854. They first met in the Paddock-Hubbard House.
Concord is a throwback to times past and the photos I’ve shown in this post provide just a sampling of the historic structures and homes that make the village a place to explore. In addition, one could spend a whole day just wandering through the historic Maple Grove Cemetery with its huge old trees and old gravesites.
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by to help me reminisce about some of my younger days in the Jackson area.
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave