History of Wyandotte, Michigan

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This article details the History of Wyandotte, Michigan. Wyandotte has a long history, dating back for hundreds of years.

Early Native American presence[edit]

Around 1732, the Wyandot Indians (Native Americans) followed Antoine de Lamothe Cadillac and the French to Detroit, Michigan and decided to settle along the banks of the Detroit River. Here there was a stretch of high bank free from marshy front - offering easy access to the drinking water in the river, good fishing and hunting and providing access to Canada to contact their friends and relatives, who had established in a village in the Amherstburg region. The soil was fertile, sandy loam, ideal for agriculture.

Their territory extended from the Gibraltar and Flat Rock region through present-day Wyandotte.

The Wyandotte were far from the enemy, protected by deep old growth forests, somewhat isolated from adjacent tribes, and on friendly terms with the neighboring white man - the village was not walled or palisaded. Government affairs were conducted in the Main Village, Gibraltar, the headquarters for the Council House, Achieves, and International Council Fires. The village was given the name "Maquaqua", or "Monguagon" in French.

Chief Walk-in-the-Water headed the Monguagon village. His totem sign was the turtle (thus "Walk-in-the-Water"). A spacious lodge was built outside of the village on what is now the west side of Biddle Avenue some distance north of Trenton.

Except for the intervening colonial war activities, when the Wyandots were forced through circumstances and treaty commitments with the Potawatomi living in the Ecorse area to engage in war against the English, the Wyandot Indians lived in peace with the few white farmers, exchanging products and favors.

The government, through a series of treaties, 1789-1808-1812-1842, decided to push them farther west. Walk-in-the-Water petitioned that "they had peacefully cultivated the land they had lived on from time immemorial. They allege that they have built valuable houses and improvements on the land and have learned the use of the plow, etc., and they pray for a title which shall prevent their being dispossessed at the end of fifty years as provided by the act of Congress." In response to this plea, the government, in 1818, negotiated a treaty granting a tract of 4,996 acres (20 km2) of land on the Huron River.

100 years[edit]

The first settler[edit]

Contemporary citizens have named Major Biddle the first white settler in Wyandotte, though there had been white farmers living in the territory before he established his home here.

People came to the city during the 19th century and through the war years. These men came from the New England states and New York after the close of the War of 1812 seeking new and richer farm lands which, it had been rumored, lay along the shore of the Detroit River.

A village is born[edit]

One summer, Mr. Philip Thurber, an insurance agent in Detroit, decided to vacation near Marquette, Michigan, and became interested in the recently discovered iron ore of that region. Obtaining a specimen from the tract near Marquette owned by Mrs. Martha W. Bacon, he had the ore smelted and tested, which showed its superior quality. He returned to Detroit and interested his business friends, Captain Eber B. Ward, S. M. Holmes, R. N. Rice, U. Tracy Howe, John Hossna, some employees of the Michigan Central Railroad, and other capitalists, resulting in the organization of the Eureka Iron Company on October 15, 1853. At first the group planned to erect a blast furnace near the original tract of ore, but iron experts advised them to seek a more accessible location near a supply of fuel. They bought the Major Biddle estate of 2,200 acres (9 km2) for the sum of $44,000. The tract had a river front of two miles accessible to transportation the year around and was plentifully supplied with raw material for charcoal.

Eber Ward, a builder of railroads, owner of rolling mills, mines, transportation companies, shipbuilder, bank director, and landholder, headed the syndicate which negotiated the acquisition of the property and the laying of the foundation stones for the village of Wyandotte. From the abstracts of Wyandotte properties filed in the Wayne County Register of Deeds during the 1854-1856 period.

A group of men were chosen to assist him in the development of the village: Darius Webb and Lewis Scofield, builders of the Eureka blast furnace and rolling mill; John S. Van Alstyne, lawyer; Frank and Fitzhugh A. Kirby, shipbuilders; and Thomas McFarlane, superintendent of the Silver Smelting Works.

Eber Ward had selected Van Alstyne, who had been studying law in the Detroit office of Messrs. Barston and Lockwood, interested principals in the Eureka Iron Company, to handle the real estate matters of the new village. Mr. Van Alstyne was first assigned as manager for the company’s real estate holdings, and six months later was made manager of the company’s business.[1]

Annexations[edit]

The village of Maquaqua was the beginning of the present community, and became the nucleus of the City of Wyandotte, Michigan. Historians tell that the Wyandots built their village in 1732.

The Village of Wyandotte chartered[edit]

The streets of the village were modeled after those in Philadelphia, which originated with William Penn. He designed one boundary line Front street as his beginning point. Streets running parallel to this Front Street were named according to numbers from First to the extent of the territory involved. Streets running horizontal to the numbered streets were named for trees and plants. The plat of the village thus assumed a checkerboard effect. The system spread throughout the New England and Midwestern states.

The focal point became the Detroit River, and the first street parallel became Front Street. This street was eventually extended and renamed Van Alstyne Boulevard in 1921.[1]

City of Wyandotte incorporated[edit]

On April 8, 1867, the Village of Wyandotte was incorporated as a home rule city. At the time, Wyandotte was a flourishing industrial community. The Eureka Iron Company and the Rolling Mills dominated the Detroit riverfront and the residential community was spreading out westward to the railroad tracks. The new city boundaries extended from Grove Street on the south to Northline Road, and from the Detroit riverfront to the railroad tracks bordering the west.[1]

South Detroit subdivision annexed[edit]

A small unincorporated portion of Ecorse Township lay to the south of Wyandotte. The section extended from Grove Street to Pennsylvania Avenue, and eastward from the railroad tracks to the Detroit riverfront. During the 1890s land promoters had planned the site as a future residential park. Riverboat excursions and promises of tax amnesties lured home buyers to the subdivision.

Both the Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Company and Michigan Alkali Company were the principal industries in the subdivision. After an annexation vote of 30 yeas to 10 nays, the small unincorporated section became a part of Wyandotte on June 15, 1904.[1]

The Village of Ford City annexed[edit]

In 1922, The Village of Ford City, which lay to the north of Wyandotte, was annexed. The annexed area extended from Northline Road to the Ecorse Creek, and from the Detroit River to approximately Seventeenth Street.

In 1902, the village was named in honor of J. B. Ford, President of the Michigan Alkali Company (now BASF Wyandotte) and prominent citizen in local affairs. All was not going well in Ford City during its years of growing. The Michigan Alkali Company had spread out along the Detroit River into both Ford City and Wyandotte. Each municipally assessed and taxed the chemical company differently. Certain necessary services and utilities readily available in Wyandotte were not available in Ford City. The Michigan Alkali Company had strongly sought tax relief and expanded utility services and suggested merging the two communities.[1]

Unincorporated Ecorse Township annexed[edit]

During a period of feverish merger and annexation activity in the metropolitan Detroit area, foresighted citizens of Wyandotte looked west to an unincorporated section of Ecorse Township. The area extended north of Eureka Avenue to Seventeenth Street to Fort Street, and from Pennsylvania north to Goddard Road. This village of Lincoln Park wooed the citizens of the area and wanted to add them to their growing community. Wyandotters realized the wisdom of extending their western boundary to include land for future residential housing, and election totals for the vote on the merger showed 3,066 yeas to 573 nays. On April 14, 1924, a large section of Ecorse Township was annexed to Wyandotte.[1]

Life on the Detroit River[edit]

In 1854 the Detroit River served as the highway that brought men and materials to build Wyandotte industries and homes, but generations of Wyandotters would also depend on the river for food and fresh water.

Schools[edit]

Since 1855 twenty-five separate public school buildings have served the Wyandotte community.

Theodore Roosevelt High School[edit]

Theodore Roosevelt High School was dedicated in 1923, containing a print shop, library, auditorium, natatorium, lunchroom, music and public speaking rooms, and science laboratories. Manual training and college preparation were now possible. In addition, with the high school classes removed from other buildings in the city, the elementary and junior high schools were also able to expand their programs. Beginning in 1923, the Wyandotte Public Schools offered a complete kindergarten through twelfth grade curriculum.

Years of debate preceded the rebuilding of Wyandotte's public school system. One of the main concerns was overcrowding of classrooms. At the time, only three public schools existed in the city, and census figures projecting even greater enrollments for the already bulging schools. The School Board offered proposals that ranged from remodeling and enlarging existing classrooms to the building of new schools. Most proposals were not accepted by the community. Though a renovation of McKinley was approved in 1914, it did not solve the major problems closing in on the public schools. With the nation at war, it was difficult to interest citizens in building schools.

In 1921 when the cornerstone was laid, there were approximately 500 high school students in the community and the new school was being built to accommodate 1400.[1]

Woodruff Elementary[edit]

Woodruff Elementary School was located on St. Johns Street, on top of a still-existing salt mine. Homes now occupy this location.

Ethnicities[edit]

Wyandotte has been influenced by many nationalities, most notably the German, Polish, Irish and Italian communities. Wyandotte was also a sundown town, resulting in a troubled history with African Americans.[citation needed]

Early French influences downriver[edit]

The French settled Detroit in 1701 when they established a fort to extend their fur trade empire into the Great Lakes region. They brought a military social organization and a definite French way of life with them. Evidences still remain of this early French influence downriver. Streets and boundary lines, measured long ago in arpents to establish habitant farm grants, are in use today in Detroit and nearby Ecorse. A notable contribution of the French was the introduction of the Roman Catholic Church to Detroit.[1]

The Immigrant comes to Michigan[edit]

In the early 19th century, the Michigan Territory was considered as land for Indians and disease, but not much else. The infamous report by U.S. Surveyor General Edward Tiffin in 1815 portrayed the Territory as a land of swamps and lakes not fit for human habitation. As a result of this, the western movement of settlers and the industry that always followed simply bypassed Michigan.

However, in 1820, Territorial Governor Lewis Cass instated a new survey that reported that Michigan land was indeed rich in natural resources, most suitable for farming and convenient waterways for transportation were to be found everywhere. With steamships on Lake Erie, land offices opened downriver and new federal roads from Ohio; Michigan soon became more attractive to the prospective settlers.

The earliest influx of settlers into Michigan land came during the years 1830 to 1837 when over 140,000 came to the Territory prior to statehood. The majority of these were foreign born seeking farmland. In a matter of a few years, industry would develop in the state. New villages and cities would be established and a need for laborers would bring many more thousands of settlers into Michigan. The labor need was so great that immigrants would soon be invited to settle in Michigan.[1]

The Irish American in Wyandotte[edit]

The Irish diaspora had a large effect on Wyandotte.

With the start of the Eureka Iron Company and Rolling Mills in 1855, Louis Scoffield traveled east to hire workers who wished to settle in the new Village of Wyandotte. A large group of men and their families was assembled from Trenton, New Jersey and Troy, New York, many of them Irish immigrants. Prominent among them were James and Mary Mulfahy Cahalan, whose children would feature prominently in the city and local Democratic politics for the following century.

In 1857 St. Charles Roman Catholic Church was commissioned and built for the Irish, erected on land deeded to Right Reverend Lefevere by the founding French Fathers in Ecorse. This building was the first formal church structure in Wyandotte and it became the focal point of the Irish community in the city.

A larger brick church was begun in 1873, but a violent storm toppled it. At the same time, financial disaster swept over the town as a depression hit the Iron Mill and hundreds of Irishmen were out of work. The church was renamed in honor of St. Patrick, and it was completed and dedicated in 1884. A grade school was organized in the old church building in 1885 and by 1906 a large brick school building provided a Catholic education from primary grades into high school.

During the early 1860s, the Irish were the dominant immigrant group in Wyandotte.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians was popular in the city. Through the A.O.H., many Wyandotters were encouraged to enter politics and business, and become active in civic affairs. As a result, many Irish families figure prominently in the history of Wyandotte. Dr. Richard Cahalan and his brother John C. Cahalan Sr. opened their first drugstore in the city in 1879. John C. Cahalan also served on the School Board, promoted the municipally owned water and electric plants, and was the spokesperson in the Downriver area for the Democratic Party, also holding the office of Tax Assessor of Wayne County, Michigan. As for his grandchildren, William Cahalan served as Wayne County Prosecutor and Wm. Leo Cahalan was on the bench as Circuit Court Judge, while Dr. Joseph Cahalan, known nationally as an internist and for his diagnostic skill, served for over forty years on the staff of the Wyandotte General Hospital (now Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital), where one of the hospital buildings was named in his honor shortly after his death in 2006.[1]

German-Americans in Wyandotte[edit]

Among the early laborers at the Eureka Iron Company and Rolling Mill were a large group of German immigrants. Captain Eber Ward, the Industrialist who founded Wyandotte, was a very religious man and insisted that workers in his employ be God-fearing family men.

The German migration into Michigan was in two distinct waves. The second wave of German immigrants came to Michigan in the years following The Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, when again millions were forced out of their homeland, and from this group came Wyandotte's earliest German community.

In 1861 a group of families organized Trinity Lutheran Church, a Lutheran church with services conducted in German, and within one year a new church-school building had been dedicated to serve the German Lutherans of Wyandotte.

The early German Roman Catholic families had attended St. Charles for several years, but they too wanted church services in German. In 1871, the St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church was built. Other churches for the German community followed as Wyandotte grew. St. John's Evangelical and Reformed United Church of Christ was dedicated in 1872. Immanuel Lutheran Church was organized in 1894.

The Arbeiter Society (Worker's Society) was organized in 1872 to foster fraternalism among the German citizens of Wyandotte. The society proved extremely popular and membership was extended to any who enjoyed the camaraderie of the organization. The famous Arbeiter Hall was dedicated in 1891, and for many years served as Wyandotte's civic center for club meetings, weddings, dances, and athletic events. Wyandotters enjoyed world-famous lectures, theater productions, concert artists, musical groups, sporting contests, and parades through the sponsorship of the Arbeiter Society. The Society disbanded in 1938, but the spirit of the organization was recently rekindled with the formation of the Downriver Germania Club in 1969 and the opening of Hans' Schnitzelbank in downtown Wyandotte.[1]

Polish-Americans in Wyandotte[edit]

The Polish migration to Wyandotte followed that of the Irish and German communities. During the 1890s, a large Polish community began to form in Wyandotte, with the bulk of those immigrants arriving in the first decade of this century. Then men found ready employment at the shipyard and chemical industries of the city.

Wyandotte's first Polish community settled on the west side of town just beyond the railroad tracks and north of Eureka Avenue. By 1896, this settlement was already known as Glenwood and was expanding rapidly as family after family built their homes and raised their children.

In 1899, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church was founded in Glenwood, a church conducting services in Polish. A church building was dedicated in the following year. The church was built in the Italian Renaissance style, with extensive marble, rich ornamental plaster and towering twin spires.

A second Polish community began to form around 1910 in what was then Ford City. This was located in the area north of Ford Avenue and east of the railroad tracks and in a smaller section north of Goddard Road and west of the railroad tracks. In 1914, St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church was founded for this new Polish community.

Another Polish settlement formed in the south end of Wyandotte and in 1925 St. Helena Roman Catholic Church was founded to serve them. Soon afterwards an elementary school was added to the parish. The Polish Roman Catholic Union (PRCU) and the Polish National Alliance (Dom Polski) are church-affiliated fraternal groups. Civic organizations include the Polish American Citizens Club and three Polish Legion of American Veterans Posts. The Pulaski Memorial Park, named after Kazimierz Pułaski, has served as a focal point of many Polish social activities throughout the years in Wyandotte.[1]

Italian-Americans in Wyandotte[edit]

The last large immigrant community to settle in Wyandotte were the Italians. Just after the turn of the 20th century, jobs were opening up at the J. B. Ford Company and the Michigan Alkali Company. The Italian settlement in East Detroit was bulging with a steady influx of friends and relatives coming to Michigan from the old country. Many young men sought work, and Wyandotte the bustling downriver town, beckoned with jobs. A street car from Detroit brought the first Italian laborers to the city. Others joined the work force and brought their families.

Statistics show that in 1890 there were only 338 Italians living in Detroit and downriver, and by 1920 the number had swelled to 29,047. In 1914, a large group of Italian workers and their families were residing in what was then called Ford city. The community had formed in an area bounded by Antoine, Hudson, 2nd Street and the railroad tracks.

The families built large sturdy homes, and planted gardens. Many of those earliest family residences still stand as testimony to the skillful construction techniques shown by those first immigrant workers. Most of the families knew each other from Palermo, Sicily Italy and interacted socially. During the summer evenings, the men could be seen playing Bocci (lawn bowling), and the card games "Scuba" and Briscola.

In 1915, a concert band was organized. Maestro Pellegrino's Italian Ford City Band attracted musicians from ages 15 to 25, and in a relatively short time the new musical group was presenting concerts for the entire community to enjoy. The camaraderie engendered by the band also gave birth to two early Italian social organizations. The San Guiseppi Society was a club that assisted many newly arrived Italian immigrants, and helped them transition to the American way of life. The Santa Fara group was formed in Wyandotte during 1924, named after the patron saint of the small Sicilian village of Cinisi. In order to become a member, one must be a "Cinisarii" or be married to one.

Other organizations were formed over the years to serve the Italian community. In the 1930s, the Non-Partisan Progressive Club was organized. One of the first projects of this club was the re-creation of the former Pellegrino Band which included many brothers and cousins, like Joseph Deliz, Joseph & Paul Pagano, Jim & Sam Vitale, Tony Cottone, Bill Consiglio, just to name a few. They also staged a war bond drive in early 1945. Americans of Italian descent in Wayne County, under the leadership of Anthony D'Anna of Wyandotte, raised $16,000,000 to build a ship. The U.S.S. Cosselin was commissioned October 19, 1945, in memory of Seaman Joseph Polizzi, an Italian-American from Detroit killed earlier during the war. The Non-Partisan Club lasted until 1949.

In 1970 fourteen members, many who were part of the Italian Ford City Band, organized a new Italian organization, the Downriver Italian club. Five years later the group contained over 440 members.

African Americans in Wyandotte[edit]

Wyandotte was a Sundown Town for decades. Sociologist and historian James Loewen charts the course of segregation in Wyandotte, Mich. in his book "Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism".[2] Loewen documents a variety of cases of racism involving African American in Wyandotte over the decades: In the early 1870s, whites there drove out a black barber; in 1881 and 1888, they expelled the town's black hotel workers; in 1907, four white men beat and robbed a black man at the train station; nine years later, a mob of white townspeople "bombarded" a boardinghouse, driving out all the African Americans and killing one. "In the 1940s," Loewen writes, "police arrested or warned African Americans for 'loitering suspiciously in the business district' or being in the park, and white children stoned African American children in front of Roosevelt High School." In the early 1950s, a University of Pennsylvania professor who grew up in Wyandotte told him, all the members of a black family who moved into town ended up dead.

Cabins, cottages and castles[edit]

John S. VanAlstyne in 1901 remarked, “from its beginning, Wyandotte has been a city of homes. For a man to want his own home and lot has been more the rule than the exception. As a legitimate consequence of this condition of things, the citizens have enjoyed a larger share of content and happiness than has been the fortune of most. For whatever be his other surroundings, a man may be happy who has a comfortable and well regulated house and home of his own.” The early Indian cabins that stood here are gone. Some cottages and stately castles still remain in the city.[1]

The Indian log cabins[edit]

Maquaqua was the home of the Wyandotte Indians from approximately 1732 to 1818. The Wyandots had known the French since 1534, and had adopted many European ways of living. Their homes along the Detroit River during the 18th century were log cabins much in the same style and size as used by the French habitant farmers near Detroit.

When the Wyandots abandoned their village in 1818 by treaty and moved to nearby Flat Rock, their cabins remained and were used by the earliest white settlers coming into the area. John Clark, a merchant from New York, came to the village in 1818. He and his family moved into a vacated log cabin that allegedly had been the home of Chief Blue Jacket. That cabin stood near the Detroit River at a point between present day Plum and Grove Streets.[1]

The John Biddle Estate[edit]

Major John Biddle was the first white man to establish a permanent residence on land that was to become the City of Wyandotte. He had purchased 2,200 acres (9 km2) of land from the federal government in 1818. The wooded section by the river inspired the Major to become a farmer much in the manner of George Washington at Mount Vernon. He also built a summer estate. The buildings were completed around 1835, and he named his estate “Wyandotte” after the Indians who were still living in the area.

The Biddle house stood slightly behind the present residence located at 2610 Biddle Avenue. The structure faced east and the front grounds sloped gently towards the river. The palatial home had a wide veranda running its full length, with Corinthian columns reaching to the second story. To the rear of the structure an extension was attached for housing farmhands. Further back behind the mansion were sheds and a large barn. Surrounding the entire estate were shrubs and flower beds much in the style of an English park. Early accounts showed that servants and laborers at the Biddle home included run-away slaves and Wyandot Indians.

The Biddle family occupied the estate until 1848. In 1854, Major Biddle sold his entire estate holdings and land to Captain Eber Ward, founder of the Eureka Iron Company and the Village of Wyandotte. In the earliest days of the village, the Biddle mansion was used as a boarding house for workers and a roadhouse for stagecoach passengers. In the late 1860s, a fire destroyed most of the original structure. Only a small front section remained intact and usable. A Thomas Watkins purchased the remnant and moved the home between Cedar and Spruce Streets. The house was turned gable end towards the Detroit River and rebuilt. This home presently stands at 2116 Biddle Avenue and is a link to Wyandotte’s earliest permanent residence.[1]

The Mark Bacon Home[edit]

The mansion at Biddle Avenue and Vine Street (early Vinewood) is the most spacious home in the city, being about 62' by 95' in size. It was erected on four city lots. The major exterior building materials include buff colored St. Louis pressed brick, red sandstone trim, and a black slate roof. Several massive chimneys stand out on the dormered roofline. A large porch with mosaic tile floors encircles the front and north sides of the home. At the rear of the building, an observatory tower provides a view of the Detroit River and beyond. An arched brick carriage port was originally attached at the north side of the building, but this was removed several years ago.

Glass chandeliers, cherrywood and silver fixtures, mahogany paneling and trim, and tapestried wall coverings were blended together throughout the home. The six bathrooms were complete with toilets, washbasins of marble and gold fixtures, and full bathtubs. Lighting fixtures were fitted for both electricity and gas. The gas was manufactured on the premises. The residence was heated with steam, and this offered an additional convenience item to the household that was unique for the period-an automatic clothes dryer in the basement and a complete steam-cleaning facility. The large tiled refrigerator near the kitchen was built to receive ice from an outside opening. Servant quarters were on the third floor along with the cedar lined storage room, observatory tower stairway, and huge unfinished attic that could have been a ballroom.

Mark and Mary Bacon (granddaughter of Captain J. B. Ford) resided in the home from 1903 to 1939. In 1942, the residence was given to the Wyandotte Board of Education for use as a public library. In 1962, the Mary Ford and Mark Reeves Bacon Memorial Room was added to the rear of the building.

Rolling Mill cottages[edit]

The first houses built in the Village of Wyandotte were constructed by the Eureka Iron Company for their workers. These were simple one-floor frame structures called “cottages” (cover). Most of these homes were built along Biddle Avenue from Oak Street to Pine Street. A second style included a two-story frame that was slightly larger in size. Over the years, these homes were also referred to as “Rolling Mill Houses” since they date back to the iron industry period in Wyandotte’s history (1854–1888). As Biddle Avenue developed into the business district of the community, many of these small frame cottages were moved to streets nearby. It was quite common for the early pioneers to set a house on timbers and with a team or two of horses drag it over the snow to a new location. Several fine examples of these style homes still exist in the city. Early one-story frame houses can be found along Pine and Orange Streets. Maple Street has several two-story style Rolling Mill Cottages. One can see the wrought iron square nails in the cedar siding, the mortise and tendon sills around windows and doorjambs, the learn-to-kitchen at the rear, and the unique Marx Brewery bottles excavated under the old porch and overhang. Most of these pioneer homes still stand proudly in Wyandotte.[1]

Michigan Alkali and J.B. Ford Company houses[edit]

With the discovery of salt beneath the City of Wyandotte, the Michigan Alkali Company was established in 1891. Captain J.B. Ford created an industry the eventually provided employment for over 1200 workers. Large apartment style company houses were built at the north end of Wyandotte in what was then Ford City. These double story frame houses were originally built as duplex units without basements. These apartments provided ready shelter for the immigrant laborers seeking work at the chemical plants. Many of these large structures stood along Biddle Avenue, north of Northline Road. During the widening of the main thoroughfare in 1917, this group of company homes was moved. Today, several outstanding examples of this early Alkali Company home can be seen. The largest group is on Fifth Street, between Goddard and St. John Streets. The Alkali Company homes date back to the early 1890s and many still remain as a prominent architectural style residence in the community.[1]

World War II GI houses[edit]

When World War II ended in 1945, many GIs returned to Wyandotte seeking work and a home of their own. This created a tremendous need within the city for additional housing units. With convenient government loans and mass production techniques, hundreds of homes were built in the city, most on open farmlands in the west end of Wyandotte.

The original GI homes of the 1945-50 era were unique in several ways. The plain uniformity of style and building materials prompted numerous citizens to remark, “the only difference between houses is the street number”. Because of the shortages of building materials following the war, many homes had wooden rain gutters and a single color paint was used throughout the interior. The basic unit had two small bedrooms, a block basement with a gas furnace, an unfinished upstairs, and a 30-foot (10 m) to 40-foot (13 m) lot without a garage, fence or sidewalk. These functional but simple homes were built all over the city for the returning servicemen.

Over the years, most of these war production homes have been individualized and modernized, and today they command three to four times their original market value. They are now a major residential household style in Wyandotte.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r [1]|Proudly We Record The Bacon Memorial Public Library Catalog
  2. ^ Loewen, James (2005). Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racisom. New York: New Press. p. 562. ISBN 978-1-56584-887-0.