Welcome to Plymouth MI Discoveries!

4 Jul
plymouthproudfaces

Jim, Andrea, Ava, Alicia, & Aaron

This page is committed to sharing the history and facts of historical structures and homes in Plymouth, Michigan. This page is dedicated to the past and present residents of Plymouth. As a Plymouth resident, my family is Proud of the richness of history, the great schools, and the great people of this wonderful community. After a visit to the Plymouth Historical Museum, we became very interested in the homes and structures around town and the history behind them. In the spring of 2012 we started a facebook page documenting our discoveries. In partnership with the Plymouth Historical Museum, we evolved to the creation of this page. Our goal is to raise awareness of the rich history of Plymouth and to showcase to the world the great community we live in. Our posts only scratch the surface of the extensive stories behind each structure and we can only hope it will encourage the community to learn more and appreciate Plymouth history. We also hope that our page helps encourage the preservation of structures that hold much of the great history of Plymouth. We invite the public abroad to pay a visit to our wonderful community and to stop by the Plymouth Historical Museum located at 155 S. Main Street, Plymouth, MI 48170 Phone Number: (734) 455-8940.

To contact the author of this page, simply enter your info below:

Author of Plymouth Discoveries

184 Caster Ave

8 Jul

184Caster

184 Caster Ave. Built circa 1890; this was once the home of William “Phil” Markham. William F. Markham was born in Plymouth in 1851 and was the Son of A.B Markham one of Plymouth’s first pioneers that settled in this community. Markham became a Plymouth business owner that made tanks and cisterns. In 1887 William Markham was granted the first patent for an Air Rifle. Phil was instrumental in starting the industry that put Plymouth on the “map” Internationally… The Air Rifle Industry. Phil’s company became the Markham Air Rifle Company which later changed its name to the King Air Rifle Company. Markham started manufacturing Air Rifles prior to the formation of the Daisy Air Rifle Company which was literally within walking distance of the Markham Company. This statement about ‘who was first” is only made because of a popular misconception that Daisy Air Rifle Co. was the first to invent and manufacture Air Rifles.

As for this grand home and why it was built. Well, this home was built for Phil to reside at while he was estranged from his Wife Carrie who refused to grant him a divorce. In 1907 the home was sold to Elisha Caster. Markham owned a number of homes in S.E. Michigan. Interestingly enough he also owned and built the home located at 676 Penniman Ave which he built for his mistress Blanche. After his wife Carrie passed away in 1910, he married Blanche and moved into the home located on Penniman across the street from Kellogg Park.

This home that elegantly stands at the corner Caster and Holbrook in the Historic “Lower Town” also known as Plymouth’s “Old Village” has a history that is unrivaled when compared to other historic homes in the area considering that Markham not only invented the modern-day BB Gun but also started an industry that changed the landscape of Plymouth and helped put this community on the map as the “BB Gun capital of the world”. Today the Markham Air Rifle Company building still stands at 304 N. Main Street and is the largest commercial brick building in Plymouth. In 1911 Markham and his family moved to California and became successful in Real Estate. At one time Markham was the owner of a large parcel of property that today is now known as Hollywood. Phil Markham passed away in 1930.

Below is a photo of William Markham taken in 1900:

WilliamFMarham

At the time of this post this home is currently on the real estate market for sale. You can view the listing for this home by clicking here: 184 Caster

252 E Ann Arbor Trail

15 Apr

252EAnnArborTrl

252 E Ann Arbor Trail was built in 1926. This was the home of very well respected teacher here in Plymouth that had a school name after her. This was once the home of Helen L. Farrand. Helen was born here in Plymouth on November 20, 1892 to William and Anna (Rocker) Farrand. Her father William ordered this “Kit Home” from Montgomery Ward. This Wardway home was built by William Farrand, he built this and other adjacent homes on E Ann Arbor Trail.

Helen was a graduate of Plymouth High School in 1911 and received her teaching certification from the Ypsilanti Normal School (now Eastern Michigan University).  Helen was a teacher in local communities. During WWI she actually worked in the Detroit Post office and returned to teaching in 1923. In 1927 Farrand came to work for Plymouth Canton Community Schools (PCCS). She taught at Central Grade School, Starweather, & Edna Allen School. Helen retired from teaching in 1958, that same year the PCCS School Board voted to name a “new elementary school” after her. 1958 the new school built at 41400 Greenbriar Lane in Plymouth was dedicated and named after Helen L. Farrard. Go Farrand Foxes!

Helen Farrand passed away in April of 1977 and was laid to rest in Plymouth’s Riverside cemetery. Helen was well respected by the community and loved by many students. Her legacy continues to live on today as hundreds of students are educated each year in the Elementary school named in her honor.

HFarrand

Helen Farrand

 

217 Ann Street

15 Apr

217AnnSt

217 Ann Street was built in 1912 and was home to a very well-known Teacher and School Principal of Plymouth-Canton Community Schools (PCCS). Nellie E. Bird (Smith) was born on a farm in Salem Township on March 4th, 1882. After graduating from Ypsilanti High School, she received her teaching degree from Ypsilanti Normal School (now known as Eastern Michigan University) while she was employed by PCCS, she earned her Masters Degree from the University of Michigan. Mrs. Bird was married to Frederick Bird and they moved into this Plymouth home in 1917 with their 2 daughters. When the Birds moved to Plymouth, Mrs Bird became a 5th grade teacher at Central Grade School. Mr Bird passed away in 1922. In 1923 Mrs Bird became the Principal of Central Grade School which was located in the same building as Plymouth High School (today known as PARC) until 1950. Mrs. Bird also served as Principal of Starkweather School.  In 1950 the Plymouth-Canton School Board voted unanimously to name the “new Elementary school” being built on Sheldon Rd after Mrs. Bird. In 1951 the Nellie E. Bird Elementary School located at 220 Sheldon Road in Plymouth was dedicated. (Go Thunderbirds!)

Mrs. Bird loved to plant a large garden and her specialty was raspberries. Many of her students stated that visiting her home on Halloween was always a delight especially since she would know most kids’ names even while wearing costumes. “She could see right though those disguises no matter what the costume” said a former student. It was said that Mrs Bird was very efficient, the child always came first and she was very fair with children and teachers. ” Working with her was really a delight, she was very strong on the fundamentals of education” stated by Mrs Tanger who taught under her. Nellie Bird passed away in 1980 and was laid to rest in the Riverside Cemetery. Mrs Nellie Bird was definitely an asset to the Plymouth-Canton Community and her legacy will continue to live on as hundreds of students are educated at the school named in her honor year after year.

Below is a photo of Nellie Bird at the dedication of Bird Elementary School.

BirdDedication

NBird

BirdElementary

Bird Elementary at 220 Sheldon Rd

1419 Sheridan St

20 Oct

1419SheridanAdj

1419 Sheridan Street was built in 1927. This was the home of Ralph Lorenz who was once known to some as “Father Plymouth” and “Mr Thanksgiving” because of the colonial theme he promoted at the Mayflower and downtown Plymouth. Ralph G. Lorenz was born in Austria in 1910 and moved to Plymouth as a child in 1921. His father had come to America 4 yrs prior and made his way to Plymouth and secured a job working for the Daisy Air Rifle Company. Ralph made his way into the US through Ellis Island with his Mother and siblings, they were quarantined for 2 weeks, then traveled to their new home in Plymouth. Ralph’s first language was German and starting school here without knowing English was tough but made friends quickly after beating up the town bully who stole his hat and tore it up. Ralph graduated from Plymouth High School (now PARC @ 650 Church St) in 1930. He attended college at EMU (and has an honorary degree from Schoolcraft College).

In 1939 Ralph was hired as the Manager of Plymouth’s Mayflower Hotel. At the time, the hotel was bankrupt and in dept. Ralph was able to secure funds to rescue the hotel and the rest is history! Well yes, there is much history when it comes to the beloved Mayflower and the positive impact that Lorenz had on our community. Ralph was also instrumental in the reopening of the First National Bank of Plymouth during the depression. In 1943 Ralph actually resigned as the manager of the Mayflower so that he could join the Navy and served as an officer during WWII and came back home after the war. Lorenz had purchased the Mayflower from the City Stockholders who actually built the Hotel. There were 3 things that Lorenz felt that was instrumental (at the time) was a recipe for a thriving community were: A good bank, a good newspaper, and a good Hotel or Inn. Lorenz was once quoted as saying: ” Plymouth to me is the greatest place on earth, I grew up with the trees out there in the (Kellogg) park. I think everything I’m obligate to is experience of living here (in Plymouth). I’ve received more here than I’ve given”.

In 1986 Ralph sold the Mayflower to his sons Scott & Randy and family friend & associate Creon Smith. In 2000 the Hotel was razed and was replaced by the Mayflower Centre. See more about the Mayflower site here on our page (Mayflower Hotel Site).

Ralph Lorenz passed away in 1992 and was laid to rest at the Riverside Cemetery here in Plymouth.

Below are a photos of Ralph Lorenz (left from 1943 newspaper, right from later in life):

Lorenz43  LorenzR

Below is a photo of Ralph Lorenz and the Mayflower Hotel staff when he became Manager in 1939:

MayflowerStaff1939

Historic photos courtesy of the Plymouth Historical Museum.

Halloween 2018

19 Oct

We put this video together for your entertainment. Happy Halloween season 2018. 🎃👻

1156 W. Ann Arbor Trail

30 Sep

1156A2Trl

1156 W Ann Arbor trail was built in 1914 and was the residence of John J. McLaren not to be mistaken with his Father or his Son who both shared the name: John D. McLaren.  In 1901 J.D. McLaren purchased the Hough Grain Elevator business (315 N Main Street) from Lewis C. Hough whose family was doing well putting all their efforts into the Daisy Air Rifle Company. J.D. McLaren died prematurely in 1915. After his death the McLaren Firm was run by John J. who was born on the family farm 3 miles West of Plymouth. John J. a graduate of the University of Michigan had run a Ford agency at 331 N Main Street which was virtually on the same property of the Grain Elevator Co. Above the Ford Agency John J. also ran a fishing lure and frog spear company. After the death of his father, he closed the spear factory and sold the (Bonafide) Ford Agency to William J. Beyer.

For the remainder of his life John J. ran the family business which gradually changed from one of handling grains to one of selling coal, lumber, and building supplies. The six elevators the McLaren’s had acquired in 1901 had expanded to 15. In addition to the headquarter location in Plymouth, there were McLaren elevators in Romulus, Wixom, Salem, Olivet, South Lyon, Charlotte, Ionia, Clare, Novi, New Hudson, Oxford, Watrousville, Collins & Colling. During John J’s time, the firm also established a transit mix company on Junction St, later sold to Gene Glynn.

John J. served on the Plymouth board of Review and was a member of the Plymouth School Board. When he died in 1968 (at age 81) he had been President of the McLaren Company for 53 years. He was succeeded in the business by his Son, John D. who was born in 1916. In 1977 J.D. decided to start liquidating the company so he could retire and in 1983 the building which once housed the elevator company located on Main Street caught on fire and burned down. In 2018 the land still sits vacant.

Today the J.J. McLaren Family home is another example of a beautifully maintained piece of Plymouth history. On a side-note: Fishing lures made by McLaren (Bonafide) company are highly collectible and some are known to fetch thousands of dollars for some of the most rare lures.

Below is an early 1900s photo of the J.D. McLaren Company located on the North Side of train tracks on Main Street:

McLarenElevator

Photo below is an image of this home while under construction:

1156A2TrlMcLaren

1477 W. Ann Arbor Trail

30 Jul

1477A2Trl

1477 W. Ann Arbor Trail was built in 1938 by Cass & Margaret Hough. Their first home was actually the first home built in the Hough Park neighborhood (located at 1395 Park Place). When this Georgian Colonial was built, it was constructed to the satisfaction of wife Margaret who loved many homes in New England and this home shares many attributes of some of her favorite houses. At the time of construction, Cass was the President of the Daisy Air Rifle factory and was a third generation Hough family member to serve as an executive for the company. An interesting note about the stone wall that sits at the perimeter of the property is the fact that Cass built the wall in 1920 well before the home was built.

In 1941 the Detroit News (newspaper) featured this home in an article touting its elegance and beauty. In 1955 Cass and Margaret had split up. Margaret continued to live here for another ten years. In 1965 a couple happen to be driving through town and came to a stop and got out of their vehicle to admire this home. A woman by the name of Janet Warrick insisted to her husband Chip that they get out and speak to the owner. The couple met with Margaret and stated that if she would consider selling her home to please contact them. Margaret contacted them not long after their meeting and agreed to sell her home to the eager couple. In 1965 this 3700 SQFT, 5 Bedroom, 4.5 bath home was sold to the Warricks. They loved everything about this home so much that it was virtually left “untouched” until 2010 when the home was sold to new owners.

Cass Hough not only served as the President of Daisy but was also a war hero that served as a pilot during WWII and is featured in the Aviation Hall of Fame. Cass passed away at his Florida home in 1990 and was laid to rest here in Plymouth at the Riverside Cemetery.

CHough1949

Cass Hough 1949 presenting awards

 

ItsADaisy

“It’s a Daisy!” is the most complete published book about the history of Daisy written by Cass Hough in 1976.

1477AnnArborTrl

1477 W. Ann Arbor Trail in the winter.