All posts by Amy Barritt

Amy Barritt, MSI, CA, is the Special Collections Librarian at Traverse Area District Library and President of the Women's History Project of Northwest Michigan. Amy has a passion for helping people find information. "Grand Traverse Journal" is her first foray in to library-sponsored self-publishing.

Silos Contained Memories (and Animal Feed)

Silos on Front Street in Traverse City, Michigan.

This image, published by the Traverse City Record-Eagle in December 1971 and taken by photographer John Hawkins, shows a pretty bizarre sight: Feed silos on Front Street? Do you remember where they were? Bonus points if you remember the name of the store or company they belonged to, or what was in them!

Congratulations to reader Larry, who got in the first correct answer!: “‘Ralston Purina Company’, 416 W. Front street, immediately east of today’s ‘Folgarelli’s’.” Good memory, Larry!

Here’s a great story about Ralston’s from reader Gary: “The ones I remember weren’t exactly on Front St., but rather at 116 Gillis St. behind where the Northern Angler is now. I bought my feed there in the mid 1970s. There was a Purina dealer there named J. S. McDonald. I bought a feed mixture from him that included waste from pie maker, Chef Pierre. What a glorious smell it gave my barn. How much nicer it was to go into the barn and smell Dutch Apple Pie instead of calf dung.”

We’d have to agree, Gary! Thanks to all our readers for reading and contributing. Each memory preserved in the Journal is another memory not likely to be forgotten!

How does this Auto Accident relate to Michigan Bell?

These images of an automobile accident in Mayfield were taken by newspaperman Al Barnes. Recently, a reader of Grand Traverse Journal stumbled across these images while looking at our digital images collection (which you can look at here), and remembered something interesting, linking Michigan Bell Telephone to the scene.

What is the connection?

Here’s a hint: this accident took place in 1964!

The Demise of the Campbell House, 1929

Recently uncovered in our local history files here at Traverse Area District Library were three photographs and a handful of typed memos, that tell the story of the end of the Campbell House. You may know it better as the Park Place Hotel, the name Perry Hannah and A. Tracy Lay graced the building with after they purchased the property in 1878.

The Campbell House was announced as open for business in the Grand Traverse Herald on November 20, 1873, by proprietor Henry D. Campbell. The imposing  three-story wooden structure dwarfed most of the surrounding buildings. You might be surprised to hear that the House sat at the southeast corner of State and Park Streets, “fronting State Street on the north and Park Place on the west,” 80 feet by 82 feet respectively. How is that possible? Before the Park Place was built at its current location, Park Street (or Park Place, the names were used interchangeably) extended through to Washington Street.

The all-wooden structure “succeeded to progress of the age,” according to the Traverse City Record-Eagle, who reported on the the demise of the original building on September 6, 1929. By the memos found, we know that the Hotel staff, including a moving gang of 20 men, were able to remove all the furniture before noon on September 5th, beating the scheduled evacuation date of September 9th by three days. The wrecking crew wasted no time, and began demolition the same day (right about 7 p.m.) that the building was evacuated.

The Park Place Hotel as we know it, with its 1930s Art Deco construction, was finished and open for business in June 1930. In the meantime, business continued as usual for the staff. How was that possible? There was no building, right?

Few probably remember The Annex, which was located basically where the Park Place’s covered parking structure is today, and served as the “offsite location” of the Park Place Hotel. The Hannah & Lay Company originally constructed the Annex when business outgrew the original structure. When the portion of the building that was the Campbell House still stood, the two buildings were linked by an overhead, covered walkway that extended across Park Street. It operated as a complete hotel for guests, and was lightly remodeled to create additional space for an office, lounge, and a coffee shop and grill.

The Annex Coffee Shop was such a success that the Park Place continued to operate at that location for another year, even after the new Park Place Hotel building was finished. As the Park Place itself described the Annex, it was “very convenient for Luncheon when downtown or an afternoon game is on… Or perhaps Sunday dinner when you are dressed up and look so nice.” Classy!

Amy Barritt is co-editor of Grand Traverse Journal, and special collections librarian at Traverse Area District Library. Thanks go to Marlas Hanson for re-discovering these gems on the Campbell House!

Discover Something New at May Events for History

Betty Driscoll to address Grand Traverse Genealogical Society on Discovering Records Related to Traverse City State Hospital

The May Meeting will be held Thursday May 18th at 1:00pm at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 3746 Veterans Drive, Traverse City.

The guest speaker is Betty Driscoll, who will be speaking on “Voices from the asylum.” Her current project is compiling the records from the Traverse City State Hospital.

The event is free of charge, and open to the public, no reservations are required.

For more information contact: Melanie Olsen 231-275-6671 or olsen@lakenpineslodge.com

Maddie Lundy on “Les Biederman and the History of Radio in Traverse City”, Traverse Area Historical Society

TAHS has one more spring program to be presented on Sunday, May 21st in the McGuire Room at the Traverse Area District Library. It will start at 1:00 p.m., with light refreshments being served following the program.

May 21st: “Les Biederman and the History of Radio in Traverse City,” given by local historian Maddie Lundy!

Also, check out our latest newsletter for a letter from the President, an update on the Archives, and a sneak peek of our Summer Tour line-up!

Civil War Nurses  by Pam Toler, Benzie Area Historical Museum

Pam Toler will address the Benzie Area Historical Museum on Thursday, May 11th at 7PM at  Mills Community House, on the lives of women Civil War Nurses. Toler is the author of Heroines of Mercy Street: The Real Nurses of the Civil War, written to accompany the PBS series of the same name.

Event is free and open to the public, and co-sponsored by the Benzie Women’s History Project.

 

Skewered Tree Theories, but No Answers, For March Mystery

Two iron loops are buried in the wood of this White Oak, located on the shores of Boardman Lake, on the Highland Assisted Living Center grounds. We speculate that the tree, given its current size, was already very large a hundred years ago, especially since White Oaks grow so slowly . What were they used for? We will give you our hypothesis next month!

One theory is that the hardware was attached to a line that ran across Boardman Lake and connected to another post on the west side. The line was used to confine logs for release to the mill, further downstream, at the mouth of the Boardman. It’s only a theory!

Another theory is that the hardware was part of a pulley system, and either logs or barges were pulled out of Boardman Lake at that spot. The location is close enough to railroad tracks that it’s plausible this was a loading area.

One thing is for certain, the white oak is old enough to have been a large tree, even a hundred years ago! The hardware is so deeply embedded in the wood, obviously having been inserted in a much earlier time, and could have supported a lot of weight.

The Fire at Wilson Furniture Company, 1955

An unassuming black binder was unearthed in the Local History Collection at Traverse Area District Library (TADL) this past month, which tells the forgotten story of the disastrous fire the Wilson Furniture Company survived in 1955. The fire started on the ground floor shortly after closing time, and first blew out the great display windows facing Union Street before quickly spreading through the four-story building. It was considered a serious disaster, resulting in over $200,000 worth of damage, and forcing the Company to close that location for a full two years.

When the store reopened in July 1957, it was to many accolades published in the Traverse City Record-Eagle by fellow Union Street businesses, like the Hubbell’s Service Station ad pictured here:

Advertisement from Hubbell’s Service Station on the reopening of Wilson Furniture Company on Union Street, Traverse City “Record-Eagle,” 15 July 1957.

The binder of material actually came not from the archives of Wilson Furniture Company, as one might expect, but from the papers of their insurance agent, Jack Coddington Fitzmaurice. Jack was the owner of Fitzmaurice Insurance Agency, which later became Fitzmaurice Garwin Insurance when Jack took on partner Gary Garwin.

Image copyright The Camera Shop, Traverse City (Mich.)

It’s an interesting look into how insurance claims were handled in 1955. Although brief, the correspondence included is explicit about F.D. Leonard’s, then President of the Wilson Furniture Company, satisfaction with Jack and his work. Jack coordinated the efforts of the Michigan Millers Mutual Insurance Company (which he was an agent of) and the Employers Mutual Companies to ensure that Wilson’s not only received the funds needed to rebuild, but to ensure that the staff was retained and compensated.

Three aged and cancelled checks are included with the collection, all from the Michigan Millers Mutual Insurance Company, totaling $76,201.27 paid out in workers’ lost wages. Does that name sound familiar? It should! You will recall in February 2017, the Grand Traverse Journal revealed that Millers Mutual is the long-time home of Queen City No. 2, the second steam-powered fire engine operated in Traverse City.

When we published that story, local historians were at a loss as to how Millers Mutual came to own the engine. Discovered amongst Jack’s papers was an article clipped from a 1965 Record-Eagle, revealing the provenance as the steamer was sold from one private owner to the next, ultimately ending up in the Millers Mutual collection. It is more than satisfying to find these disparate pieces of history and find a cohesive narrative within them.

Image is copyright The Camera Shop, Traverse City (Mich.)

Look at these rediscovered photographs, and imagine the front of Wilson Antiques as it looks today. I suppose we need to thank Jack for that astounding transformation!

TADL’s Local History Collection is made up of stories like Wilson Furniture’s, Jack’s, and thousands of others. What will you find?

Amy Barritt is co-editor of Grand Traverse Journal.

April Events Sure to Inspire and Inform

TAHS presents Norton Bretz on “A Murder in Eastport, 1870,” April 9th

A Murder in Eastport: An 1870 Family Story of Racial Profiling
By Norton Bretz, President of Eastport Historical Society
Sunday, April 9th, 1pm

This talk will examine a fascinating 1870 murder that echoes issues our country still deals with today.

On June 12, 1870, a black man named William Swan was walking along what is now US31 near near Eastport. William and his family had been living in the Charlevoix area for over five years, the only black residents of the county. He was was shot and killed by two Civil War veterans, for no apparent reason. The shooters would be acquitted.

Come hear Mr. Bretz, a descendant of these veterans, give a lively recounting of this event and its aftermath.

Norton Bretz is President of the Eastport Historical Society. He spent his career as a nuclear physicist at Princeton University. He is a Michigan native who grew up spending summers in Eastport.

Program is free and open to the public. Program will take place Sunday, April 9th, from 1-3pm, at the Traverse Area District Library, Children’s Story Room, 610 Woodmere Ave.

Boardman River Nature Center hosts Drinking Water Screening and Program on the Boardman River

Image courtesy of Gabe Popa, available on his Flickr page.

Stop by to discover what the Boardman River Nature Center (BRNC) has to offer! From 10:00-12:00pm, GTCD and the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assistance Program (MAEAP) are holding a FREE domestic drinking water well screening. For more information, click here.

Visit us from 1:00pm-2:30pm to join our educator as we learn all about the Boardman River. We will work with our indoor stream table, hike along the Boardman, and create a fun craft to take home. Ideal for ages 4+. These Saturday events are free and open to the public.

Annual Parklands Spring Clean-up in Grand Traverse County

When: Multiple Wednesdays – April 5th, April 12th, and April 19th, from 9:30am-12:00pm
Where: Various parklands throughout Grand Traverse County

Shortly after snowmelt is a great time of year to remove unwanted debris and miscellaneous items from our local parklands. In addition to cleaning up the parks, small scale park enhancement projects will take place. Contact us today to learn more about which parklands will be of focus this year, and what you can do to help!

Registration: RSVPs are required; contact Reb Ratliff at rratliff@gtcd.org or 231.941.0960×27, or Tom Vitale at tvitale@gtcd.org or 231.941.0960×19.

March Events for History and Culture

Kathy Firestone on “The History of Power Island,” March 19th

On the 3rd Sunday of every month, the Traverse Area Historical Society presents a program on local history. This month, we welcome author Kathy Firestone, who will speak on the History of Power Island, that famed plot of land in West Grand Traverse Bay that was the playground of the likes of Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Thomas Edison and Babe Ruth.

Program is free and open to the public. Program will take place Sunday, March 19th, from 1-3pm, at the Traverse Area District Library, McGuire Room, 610 Woodmere Ave.

OAC’s 2017 Class Schedule is Online and Registration is Open!

The Oliver Art Center is pleased to announce its 2017 Summer Class Line-up! Registration can be done on our website, under the ‘Classes’ tab on the top menu or by calling the office at (231) 352-4151. Students will find classes in painting, drawing, collage, furniture, writing, ceramics, quilting, cooking, and special classes just for youth.

Returning favorites such as Peggy Hawley, Edee Joppich, Cedar Kindy, Beth Bynum and Tony Couch are joined by new instructors Julie Keck (copper enamel jewelry making), Jenni Bateman (silk painting), Heidi Finley (marbeling on paper and silk) and Karen West (iPhone and abstract photography). Douglas David returns this year with still life painting and David Abeel is back with Windsor woodworking.

The culinary arts program welcomes back Joe Muer with four classes on seafood and fish as well as Jim Voltz with classes on brunch and soups. Oliver Art Center is pleased to welcome Sara Hartley from Cherry Republic with four baking/pastry classes.

Youth classes are back in drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture and felting. Register early for these popular summer activities.  The ceramics program is growing as well! Every Thursday is Open Studio and no experience is required. Keep an eye on the website for more beginner adult and kid ceramics classes.

“This year’s line-up is one of our best yet. We conducted a community survey late last year and asked what our community was looking for in classes. We took all the comments into consideration when booking this year’s classes and we hope that the community responds well to what we are offering. We are also looking to attract more youth to our center with many different classes for all ages” says Mercedes Michalowski, Executive Director.

Oliverartcenterfrankfort.org
Facebook.com/oliverartcenter

132 Coast Guard Road
PO Box 1513
Frankfort, MI 49635
Tel: 231.352.4151
Fax: 231.352.8017

Reader Clears the Bar with Correct Answer

This bar is the only remaining building of the largest employer in Traverse City in 1917.  What is the name of that company?

Congratulations to reader Larry, for his correct answer!: “That is currently ‘Side Traxx’, located at south end of Franklin street. I believe the company was ‘Oval Wood Dish Factory’ which left Traverse City in 1917.”

A causal exploration of the grounds by Your Editors yielded little evidence of the building’s former use. Should you visit, take a look for yourself! A number of interesting features, including frames of windows visible on the outside but not on the inside, and layers of wood paneling, gives us much to speculate on.