Friday, September 30, 2022

Concord Michigan…Jackson County

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.

Notes:

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

My Home Town – History and More (2)

…continuing with our exploration of Jackson Michigan and the surrounding area.  My memories were nicely tweaked during our visit plus, with the one exception noted at the end of this post, we was pleased with most of the changes we saw.


The Michigan Theatre, which is located at 124 North Mechanic Street in Jackson, first opened in 1930.  It was the last and largest theater build in the downtown area.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was part of Col. W.S. Butterfield’s theater chain.  Butterfield Theaters continued to operate the theater until 1978.

I saw a number of movies here back in the early and mid-1950s.  I most vividly remember standing in line with my brother Bobby waiting to see “Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier” starring Fess Parker.  I was 13 years old and Bobby/Robert was 7.  This Walt Disney production was very popular despite the fact that it was an edited and recut compilation of the first 3 episodes of the Davy Crockett television miniseries.

As described by one observer, in the 1930s guests entered an exotic Spanish-styled building with lavish plasterwork, a polychrome terra cotta fa├žade, walnut furnishings, wool carpets, oil paintings, heavy damask draperies and exotic stained glass light fixtures. 

I was delighted to see that this ornate and plush theater has been saved.  It is used to present special showings of movies and it serves as a popular venue for live entertainment.  Check it out at https://michigantheatre.org/.


Here are a couple additional murals that were part of the “Bright Walls Festival” in downtown Jackson.  There were 70 of these creative murals across the center of town.  Unfortunately, I learned that this was the 4th and last scheduled festival of this type so while the murals will be around for a while, the party is over.  Too bad as all of this creativity not only brightened up Jackson…but it also provided a ‘feel good’ atmosphere.

I remember this building as the Otsego Hotel.  I recall that my stepfather lived here for a short time after he came to Jackson.  The hotel opened in early 1904 and it was named after the manager’s birthplace near Otsego Lake, New York.  The hotel was renovated in 1918 and expanded to add more rooms in 1929.  The hotel operated until 1962 when it closed its doors.  In 1972, the building was sold to New Tribes Mission, who converted it to a school for missionaries.  This group moved out in the late 1970s.  The building was converted to federally subsidized housing in 1981 and today, as the Otsego Apartments, it houses senior citizens.  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This view looking west down Michigan Avenue toward the center of Jackson is actually quite pleasant if not exactly the way I remember it.  Back when I was a teenager, occasionally ‘dragging the Ave” with a plethora of other like-minded young folks, it was 2 lanes in either direction.  Traffic was heavy and downtown was bustling.  At some point the City routed traffic around downtown on one-way streets and they turned this area into a pedestrian mall supported by a number of vacant lots turned into parking lots.  At least now, downtown seems more vibrant than in recent years...and it is attractive as well.




I’ve written about Jackson’s railway depot before.  I think that it is one of the most striking…most iconic railway depots anywhere in the USA.  It has be in operation since September 1, 1873, and it is the oldest continually operating passenger rail station in the entire USA.  The station currently services the Amtrak “Wolverine” line which runs from Detroit to Chicago.  When we lived in the Chicago area, Laurie and I have traveled through this station.  Don't you just love that original ticket office woodwork!

With several rail lines running through Jackson back in the day…and a nearby round table/repair shop complex, the depot was called the Jackson “Union Station” as it was a shared depot.  Four Presidents or candidates for President arrived in Jackson via this depot.  They include McKinley (1899), Taft (1910), Eisenhower (1952), and Kennedy. (1960)

Coney Island hot dogs are a big thing in Michigan.  Reportedly, George Todoroff, a Macedonian immigrant, founded Jackson Coney Island in 1914.  Back in the day, the restaurant served ‘Coney Dogs’, with the Jackson version using a topping of either ground beef or ground beef heart, onions and spices. 

The Todoroff family still operates restaurants in the area and they also produce a topping that they sell to other restaurants.  Virginia Coney Island, sign at the right rear of the photo, has also been a long term survivor…although neither restaurant is located as close to the railway depot as in the past.  Todoroff’s Coney Island Restaurant was open 365 days a year and 24 hours a day, catering to workers and travelers alike.  In a 2019 USA Today reader poll, the Virginia Coney Island was named as the best place for a Coney dog in Michigan.

This memorial at the corner of Second and Franklin Streets in Jackson, marks one of the birthplaces of the Republican Party.  The first official meeting of the group that called itself “Republican” was held here “under the oaks” on July 6, 1854.  The plaques and markers commemorate an anti-slavery convention that was held that day.  Meeting outside to avoid a hot, over crowded hall, the group selected a slate of candidates for state elections.  In 1854, an oak grove was located here on “Morgan’s Forty” then on the outskirts of Jackson.  The other notable city credited as being a key birthplace of the Republican Party is Ripon Wisconsin.

The Ella Sharp Museum is located in Ella Sharp Park in Jackson.  In 1891, Ella Merriman married John C. Sharp, a lawyer who had served at the Jackson City Attorney.  Ella was living on her family’s farm on the outskirts of Jackson and, after her marriage, her parents turned the farm over to the couple so they could move into town.  John stopped practicing law and under his and Ella’s management, this prosperous farm improved even more.  John died in 1908 and Ella continued to manage the property until she died in 1912.  Ella bequeathed the farm and her home to the city of Jackson to be used as a museum and park.

Ella Sharp Park was opened in 1916.  However, the museum didn’t open until 1965.  My mother was a frequent visitor to the museum and participated in the museum’s efforts to build their collection.  At one point my mother and Laurie spent a bit of time at the museum helping to identify patterns and styles of weavings and quilts in the facility’s collection.  The museum structure shown above has been built in the years since my mother lived in the Jackson area.



I just took a few photos of the exhibits on display in the museum.  We were more interested in the old buildings in the historic farm-lane adjacent to the new museum.  There was a large exhibit of bird sculptures and duck carvings and I thought that this carved sharp shinned hawk with a sparrow in its talons was one of the best.  Another room was full of paintings from area artists and this clockmaker’s shop was just a sampling of the clock collection out for public viewing.  Displays on local history, an insect exhibit, a section on ‘Jackson in the Roaring 20’s are samples of other offerings for public viewing.  The museum also features a planetarium!

While we were visiting the museum, we spoke to a gentleman who told us that an art class given by the Jackson Civic Art Association was underway in a nearby meeting room.  I told him that both my mother and my stepfather had been among the founders of that group back in 1947. 


This is the Ella Sharp House aka the Merriman-Sharp House at the Museum which itself is located in the Ella Sharp Park on 4th Street in Jackson.  The original house was likely built in the early 1840’s but after Ella’s parents, Mary and Dwight Merriman took over the 500 acre farm, and it wasn’t long before they expanded the home by adding a Greek revival front section to it.  They expanded the home again in 1862, adding another addition as well as that Italianate tower.




When Laurie and I attempted to exit the museum to visit the farm lane exhibits, the door leading out to them was locked.  We soon learned that none of the historic buildings were open to explore and that the gift shop in the museum itself hadn’t been open for months.  The problem is and has been a lack of volunteers… Many former volunteers just stopped coming to help after the advent of Covid-19.  So Laurie and just walked up and down the lane and took a few photos before departing.  It is a sad situation…

The first of the buildings shown above is the granary.  At one point it was converted to a restaurant and Laurie remembers it as the building where she and my mother worked to identify quilts and weavings.  The second structure is the tower barn…sans any tower.  The barn itself was built in the 1840s and was eventually converted to the carriage house.  The third building is an example of a typical woodworking shop from the 1800s.  The last building pictured is Dibble Schoolhouse.  It was built in 1885 for $650.  I didn’t take photos of the remaining buildings around the museum.

Note: I’ll end this post with a bit of local history.  At one point, beginning in 1929, Ella Sharp Park actually featured a zoo.  It included 4 bears including a Kodiak bear, buffalo, a coyote, monkeys, porcupines, woodchucks, raccoons, goats, a bobcat, an eagle, great horned owls, a red tailed hawk and a pair of lions.  A lack of public interest and funding eventually caused the zoo to be abandoned.  In 1954 the lone elephant was sold and the last bear died from a stroke. 

The abandoned poured concrete enclosures, especially the lion’s den and Monkey Island, were a source of wonder and served as a somewhat risky playground for kids like myself.  What a place to play cowboys and Indians or just to climb around!  Due to the risk involved, it wasn’t too many years and these last vestiges of the zoo had been leveled.

To learn more about the Ella Sharp Museum or the 562 acre Ella Sharp Park, you can just go to: https://ellasharpmuseum.org/ or https://ellasharppark.com/.  

Sorry for the long and wordy close for this post… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Note: On July 4, 2010 I published my first post on this blog site.  At about 10:15 AM this past Friday, 9/23/22, I finally recorded my 1,000,000th view.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, September 23, 2022

My Hometown – History and More (1)

After about 12 years, Laurie and I made our way back to my hometown, Jackson Michigan.  While I wasn’t born here, I lived here when I was a baby up through the 3rd grade…returning in the 4th grade and then through the 9th grade.  After that I was off to DeVeaux School, an Episcopalian boarding and day student school located in Niagara Falls New York.  I returned home for the holidays and summers through my senior year before heading up the road to East Lansing Michigan and Michigan State University.  Right off hand, I can recall 9 different homes where my family lived in Jackson. 

While in the area, Laurie and I spent quite a bit of time exploring Jackson and other nearby locations that had some significance in my life or which have some historical significance.  We decided to start in the downtown area.

The First Baptist Church has had a presence in Jackson for over 180 years.  The church members gathered in a variety of locations for 35 years, but in 1869 construction began on this Romanesque Revival-style building.  A lack of funds delayed completion until a member of the building committee agreed to erect the walls for free if the materials needed could be supplied.  A donation in 1871 by 4 members of the congregation insured that the church would be completed.  It was dedicated in March of 1872.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was my family’s church in Jackson.  My stepfather was active in the church and his memorial services were held here.  It was the Reverend Canon Frederick W. Brownell who helped my mother gain my admission to DeVeaux School where I was prepared for college.  Without Reverend Brownell’s assistance, my mother wouldn’t have been able to afford this educational opportunity. 

My Dad, S/Sgt. Ronald Allen Myers, with 7 others who gave their lives for their country, is memorialized in one of the St. Paul's stained glass windows.

In 1839 Reverend Charles Fox arrived in the fledgling town that was emerging from a wilderness swamp.  He first organized the Episcopal Church in Jackson.  Located at 309 South Jackson Street, St. Paul’s is one of the oldest Episcopalian parishes in the state.  A 100 seat wooden church was consecrated at this location in October of 1840.

The cornerstone for this new $6,100 Romanesque Revival church was laid in August of 1850 and the church was consecrated in January of 1853.  The church is listed on Michigan’s State Register of Historic places.  For many years, beginning in 1958, the church’s Women’s Club conducted a town hall series as a church fundraiser.  Speakers included First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, author Erma Bombeck and actor Vincent Price.  This series was a major social event until it ended in 1980.



As we initiated our exploration of downtown Jackson, we discovered that the city was about to initiate a weekend of artistic expression and celebration.  This was the fourth iteration of “Bright Walls”, a public art and mural festival founded and run by volunteer members of the Jackson Young Professionals.

More examples of these artistic wall murals will follow in this post as well as the next one…

As usual I’d pulled together a list of historic places to find, photograph and write about.  This is the oldest building in Jackson.  The Stone Post Office, also known as the Blackwell Building is located at the rear of a business near the center of town.  It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

The first post office in Jackson was located in the log home of the village’s first postmaster.  But, in 1839, Joseph G.R. Blackwell, a wealthy businessman, constructed this stone structure to house his general store, which at that time faced the town’s small public square.  Subsequently, the building was used as the city’s post office…and it continued to serve as such until 1894.  Other buildings were built around this structure and since then, it has mostly been used as a warehouse for a series of businesses. 

The First Congregational Church is another historic church in downtown Jackson.  Currently, this church is home to the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ of Jackson.  Originally, Congregationalists and Presbyterians formed unified churches on the western frontier.  After a series of splits and other church structures, in 1858 the church members bought 2 lots where they would build their new church.  It was dedicated in 1860.  However the congregation continued to grow and by 1871, it was evident that they needed a meeting hall and Sunday school rooms.  So the entire building was raised by 8 feet and a lower section was built underneath the original structure.  Then in 1895, a new entryway was added to the building.


The Bright Walls Festival featured local artists as well as artists from across the globe.  Over 70 murals have been created in downtown Jackson.  This community project speaks well for the city.  In addition to the artists and musicians, sponsors, building owners, other community organizations and of course, volunteers.  More information on that building in the second photo will follow...

This is Jackson’s City Hall at 161 West Michigan Avenue.  This 183 foot tall building was built in 1927 to house both the Jackson City Bank and some offices for the city.  Today, it’s fully occupied by city employees.  In 2005, the city invested $10 million to renovate the building. 

Note: There are 3 buildings in Jackson that are taller than the City Hall.  Two of the others are also historic but I didn’t take picture of them.  The tallest building in town is the County Tower Building at 230 feet high.

A little history… Founded in 1829, Jackson was named after President Andrew Jackson.  The town was first called Jacksonopolis and then Jacksonburgh.  At the beginning of the 1900s, it became an early automotive manufacturing center that attracted southerners and immigrants to the city’s many factories.  The current name was officially changed to Jackson in 1838.

How important was Jackson in the early part of the 20th Century?  It was the hub for 8 different railroad lines and it was home to no less than 21 different automobile manufacturers.  In 1920, Jackson was the 8th largest city in Michigan…today it’s the 33rd.  In 1910 the city’s population was 31,433.  In 1930 it was 55,187.  In 1950 it was 51,088.  When I headed off to college in 1961, the population was at roughly 50,000.  Today Jackson is home to only 31,309 residents…a few less than back in 1910.  The auto industry moved to Flint and Detroit and the railroads lost their impact as motor vehicles became more relevant.  Yet another rust belt town that is trying to make a comeback.

Remember the building with the flowers on one side that I'd mentioned above? It is the Morris building, also known as the Ismon building as well as the Carter-Sherman building.  This structure was built at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Jackson Street way back in 1853.  During the Civil War a Union Army lawyer practiced law here and he enlisted men from around the county for military service.  Mr. Ismon was a founding member of the Jackson County Bank in 1872.  Over the years, the building has been home to a dry goods store, a barber shop, a men’s haberdashery, a barber shop, then a shoe store and a jewelers.

The photo from 1938 as shown above is more or less how I remembered the Morris building  from the early 1950s into the 1960s.  The on-going construction shown in the photo was for the new Woolworth Store going in next door.  The ground floor of the Morris building housed a Rexall Drug Store with the second and third floors serving as the home…at the time…as Jackson’s only Asian restaurant.  I must admit that we never ate at the Fairy Garden Restaurant…as our Sunday favorite was the now long gone Regent Cafe.  Fairy Garden was popular though.  Ralph and Fong Hoy Lew, his wife, operated this restaurant until 1950 when their son William took it over.  William Lum and his family ran the restaurant until 1973.


Downtown Jackson looked pretty darn good during our visit...lots of flowers and greenery!  I did note that the massive former Consumers Power Building with its appliance sales store had been demolished and the downtown park area expanded.  My stepfather was a salesman there.

A portion of this park has been recognized for its connections to the Underground Railroad.  Bucky Harris Park was added to the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.  Michigan’s first anti-slavery newspaper, The American Freeman, and 3 other anti-slavery newspapers were all founded in commercial buildings around this center of the city. 

Note: I was puzzled… Who the heck was Bucky Harris?  It took some digging but it turns out that he was a local businessman.  Charles “Bucky” Harris owned the Harris Building next to the park.  That building is now called the Blake Building and it is the 2nd tallest building in Jackson at 198 feet in height.

I decided to end this post with something sweet.  John O. Gilbert and his wife Mary had operated a bakery and confectionary factory in Findlay Ohio, starting in 1893.  They outgrew their city and their building and they decided to move to the much larger city of Jackson Michigan.  They opened 2 retail stores in Jackson and the reputation of Gilbert Chocolates grew to the point where they had to build a large two-story factory in 1913.  John continued operations until about 1960 and then the company was sold and operated by two successive owners. 

The good news is that 2 stores are again operating in Jackson.  Even more importantly, the business has maintained its reputation as offering the finest gourmet chocolates in Michigan.  The store and factory shown above opened in 2016 and it’s located in downtown Jackson at 233 North Jackson Street…not far from the location of the original stores and factory.  Gilbert’s Chocolates can be purchased.  See: https://www.gilbertchocolates.com/.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave