In the second half of the nineteenth century, Polish refugees who escaped Prussian domination settled in Bay City. In 1874 they formed a society under the patronage of St. Stanislaus Kostka of Poland. To fill the needs of this Polish-speaking community, a wooden church was built and dedicated on December 13, 1874, on a site donated by William D. Fitzhugh. During the pastorate of Father Marian Matkowski, this grand Neo-Gothic church was erected at a cost of over $60,000. Bay City architects Pratt and Koeppe provided the plans. The cornerstone was blessed in June 24, 1890, and the church was dedicated on July 17, 1892, by Bishop Henry J. Richter of Grand Rapids.
The sign in Alabaster reads
This area is named after a variety of gypsum, discovered offshore by Douglass Houghton in 1837. Prospectors soon began searching for other gypsum deposits, and this quarry was opened in 1862 by B.F. Smith. Used at first as fertilizer and as an ingredient in plaster, gypsum is now used principally in the manufacture of wallboard. A fire in 1891 destroyed the operation but it was rebuilt in time to supply material for the main buildings at the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893. These buildings, with marble-like walls, earned the exposition the title “White City,” and greatly expanded gypsum sales. Incorporated into the U.S. Gypsum Co. in 1902, this quarry has helped make Michigan a leading producer of gypsum for over a century.
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In 1868 the Reverend Manasseh Hickey and twelve settlers organized a Methodist Episcopal Church in Caseville. Services were held in a schoolhouse until the present church was built. Upon its dedication on November 15, 1874, the Gothic-inspired structure, with its 70-foot-high steeple, became a focal point for the community. Local contractor William Ormiston built the church, which contains stained-glass windows by McFadden and Reed of New York City. In 1907 a basement was excavated, and in 1940 the memorial windows were installed Over the years the steeple, which provided a landmark for Saginaw Bay boaters, was racked by structural problems and lightning, and had to be continually repaired. In 1974 the spire was replaced with a duplicate of the original.
Aaron Watrous and his crew of loggers came here in 1852 to cut the virgin pine of the Cass River Valley. In 1860 he platted the town naming it Watrousville, and a few years later constructed this building as a general store. The flagpole in front is thought to have been erected during the 1864 presidential campaign. Watrous died in 1868, and in 1882 the building became the Juniata Township Hall. Since 1972 it has been a museum of the Watrousville-Caro Area Historical Society.
When people think of photos of Michigan they think of the Mackinaw Bridge, the Sleeping Bear Dunes or Sunsets on Lake Michigan. They are all wonderful things we all love in Michigan, but there is so much more. My goal of this website is to post current photos daily. Since I live in Saginaw, in the center of the L.P. there is not a lot of waterfalls and natural wonders to photograph, so instead I like to get pics of the historical places and other interesting things I find.
The long winter months can be challenging because the downtown areas have snow along the sides the roads from the plows, it does not look that appealing in photographs. I go out to the countryside and the skies are usually gray and dull. Winter time isa good time for me to show some of the old and forgotten places I find around the state. I do show a lot of old farm houses, not because I want to glorify the heartbreak and sadness of these old forgotten homes but to show they are still here and remind us of long ago times and of hard work and struggle. I see so many photos of inner city abandonment and the struggles that the large cities in Michigan have been dealing with for the past few decades. I feel that the small towns and rural areas are overlooked and are struggling in this economy too. When I go to small towns and I see empty shops and buildings with for sale or for rent signs, It’s sad to see and I know they are struggling to survive just like the people in the big cities. I do my best to also show some of the places a town is proud of too, like a park or restored home or historic building, but during the winter it can be challenging to get some nice photos of those places.
I don’t consider my page something to promote Michigan to tourists like Pure Michigan. I like to post photos that I find interesting. It may not be all rainbows and unicorns but I do like posting the pics I take and I hope you enjoy looking at them too. I hope I show you places you may have forgotten about or never seen before and there is beauty all around us besides sunsets and waterfalls.
There are few houses in Michigan that are as intriguing as the Ammi Wright house in Alma. I came across it last summer on one of my whirlwind road trips taking photos in central Michigan. At that time I did not know anything about this house until I posted a photo of it. I was told it was the Ammi Wright house which is remarkable to me, since Ammi Wright got his start in my hometown of Saginaw with the lumber industry. He eventually moved to Alma and built this magnificent house in 1888
the Wright family sold the house to become Smith Memorial Hospital in 1934 and then Northwood Institute in 1959. In my research on the house I found out it is now owned by Kurt Wassenaar, an architect from Alma and he plans on restoring the house and making it into a hotel. you can read more about it HERE
Ammi Wright donated the land and money to start Alma College and it is good to see someone is taking an interest in saving this house. We live in an era where the cost to build new is cheaper that restoration, but no one seems to factor in “historical value” when making that statement. I thank people like Mr Wassenaar for caring about our history and architecture to invest in it. I am sure it will be a long and challenging process but I hope I get to tour it when it’s completed.
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This building is one of the oldest Episcopal churches in Michigan. St. Stephen’s parish was organized in 1844, and construction of the church began almost immediately. Hiram Raymond of Hamburg was the contractor, and building funds were solicited in the East and in Europe. Donations were received from Hamburg, Germany, the native city of some of the parishioners. The clean delicate lines of the church and the interesting tower make this one of the state’s most intriguing churches.
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Michigan Historical Marker
First Presbyterian Church in Bay City
In 1848, James G. Birney and his wife led Bay City’s earliest Presbyterian services in a schoolhouse. Birney twice ran unsuccessfully for president of the U.S. on the antislavery ticket. The Reverend Lucius Root organized the First Presbyterian Church of Lower Saginaw on September 5, 1856. Services continued to be held in the schoolhouse and other public buildings until the first church was built in 1863. In 1886 church elder Alexander Folsom donated $50,000 for the founding of a college in “northern” Michigan. His donation funded the organization of Alma College. In 1906 the college established the J. Ambrose Wight Memorial scholarship fund in honor of First Presbyterian’s minister.
In 1884 the Reverend J. Ambrose Wight challenged the members of the First Presbyterian Church to “go forward and build a church that will be a lasting gift to the future.” The Reverend Wight (1811 – 1889) feared that Bay City’s prosperity, gained through the lumber and salt industries, would not last. When the church was dedicated on June 4, 1893, the Bay City Times-Press declared it a “Magnificent Temple.” Like the City Hall, which was build four years later, the Ionia sandstone church was designed in the Richardsonian style by local architects Pratt and Koeppe, and reflects Bay City’s wealth at that time. The bell, cast in 1866, served as a public timepiece and tolled three times daily.
James Oliver Curwood was born in Owosso on June 12, 1878, and lived there most of his life. Writing and love of nature were his boyhood interests, and by 1908 Curwood was earning his living as a novelist. Most of his stories were adventure tales set in the Canadian north, where the author spent much of his time. During the 1920s his books were among the most popular in North America, and many were made into movies. The castle, built in 1922, was his writing studio, and a number of his later works were composed in the tower, overlooking the Shiawassee River. Curwood became a zealous conservationist, and in 1926 he was appointed to the Michigan Conservation Commission. He died at his nearby home on Williams Street on August 13, 1927.
the castle was given to the City of Owosso after Curwoods death. It has served in various capacities over the years and is now a museum operated by the city, and is open to the public.
Every Summer, the Curwood Festival takes place there to celebrate the life and works of James Oliver Curwood.
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Curwood Castle in Owosso Michigan