Just a quickie here, sharing an educational timeline that’s a pleasure to use and learn from. Click on the image to be taken to the Local Preservation School’s link.
After running across and reading the following article in The Port Huron Times Herald (October 9th, 1923, page 1), I couldn’t help but say “I love Jenks.” This is William Jenks, of course, the author of the 1912 St. Clair County history book, important Michigan map collector, and a primary mover in the building of the Carnegie Library (now museum) here. My sentiments on the subject are expressed by Jenks wonderfully; some brief explanatory notes and a historic map follow. Enjoy!
“Preserve Historical Names, Attorney’s Plea”
“Protest against the changing of the name of Gillett street to Hammond street, which was recently asked by the residents of the street in a petition to the city commission, is voiced in a letter sent the commission by W. L. Jenks, prominent attorney of Port Huron and member of the state Historical society.”
“In his letter Mr. Jenks comments on the tendency resent in cities today to give streets high-sounding and meaningless titles, and deplores inappropriate and thoughtless changes. he points out two blunders in changing street names made recently by the commission.”
“The letter follows:”
I noticed recently that a petition had been filed with you to change the name of Gillett street to Hammond street in honor of the late Lieut. Hammond.
I sincerely hope that the name will not be changed. Gillett street commemorates the name of one of the early prominent citizens of Port Huron[,] a man of the highest character, one of the leading business men and a man who was very generous and public-spirited, and his name ought not to be forgotten in this city.
I do not wish to belittle in any manner the propriety of naming a street in honor of Lieutenant Hammond, but there are several streets in the city which have names that do not contain any significance and the changing of a name of that kind to commemorate the name of Lieut. Hammond would be appropriate in every way.
The city has already made two serious blunders in the changing of names of streets–when it changed Butler street commemorating the name of an honored man of national reputation, and a prominent philanthropist, to Grand River avenue[,] a name which has absolutely no significance here. The name apparently was copied from Detroit where Grand River avenue has a meaning, it being the direct route from Detroit to the Grand River country, including the cities of Lansing, Grand Rapids and Grand Haven.
The name of Suffern street which bore the name of prominent merchant of New York City who was largely interested in Port Huron property for several years was changed to Glenwood avenue, a high sounding name which has no appropriateness as there is neither a glen nor any wood in or near the street.
Such changes are to be deplored and not to be encouraged by good citizens.
The city did not change Gillett to Hammond, as there is no Hammond Street in Port Huron and Gillett is still there. Lieut. Hammond is remembered here though, as the American Legion post is named after him. On Gillett/Gillette and Jenks streets, a 1925 article states: “Gillette street is named after Martin S. Gillette, lumberman and president of the village board in 1850. Jenks street is named after W. L. Jenks, pioneer and historian of the county” (there were other prominent Jenks in Port Huron, too; “Street Names Tell the History of City,” The Port Huron Times-Herald, February 13, 1925, page 11).
We decided to announce the winners on the same page used for the entries, making it easier to find and also giving the opportunity for everyone to see all entries (if they haven’t already). It was difficult for us to finalize some winners, as judging for a contest like this is necessarily subjective to a certain degree. And we’d like to give something to everyone simply for participating and trying! Thank you all! We wanted to mention that although a couple of the entries did not meet the rules for the contest, we really liked them anyway and do not wish to discourage anyone. We have a similar contest planned for next year; it will be announced sooner and will hopefully appeal to more people. Watch out for it! The winners are announced with their photos below (images can be clicked on in order to view them in a larger size). Prizes are listed at the contest page, but we have added more “honorable mention” prizes ($10 gift certificates from the Raven Cafe) since that was posted.
Below are the entries to the Peeps in (local) History contest, in no particular order. Please enjoy looking at them, and feel free to leave comments–we’ll be reading these and taking them into consideration as we decide on the winners!
Please leave comments below! Winners will be announced on April 20th.
by Vicki Priest (c) 2018
You may have clicked on this article thinking, “why does this matter?” or perhaps out of annoyance, but how people perceive the dwellings in their community can have some real and possibly unpleasant consequences. What do I mean by that? Well, Victorian is a period in history and not a single architectural style. The many styles from that period in the U.S. are mostly from after the Civil War to about 1910. But if to your knowledge all homes built during that time are “Victorian style,” then it may seem reasonable to not get too upset over a few more losses—since there seem to be so many of them.
However, not only are there many styles within the Victorian period, there are styles from other periods that overlap with the Victorian. So, while there are, say, many vernacular homes that had, or may still have, “Queen Anne” ornament (the style people often associate with Victorian), there aren’t so many Second Empire buildings left here. If all the Second Empire homes remaining in Port Huron were razed, it would equal only a small percent of all those remaining from the 2nd half of the 19th century. Knowing this, once a building is identified as a rarer type and not just another “Victorian,” then it is hoped that it will be favored with benevolence in its future. And Second Empire style is rarer; the style is the oldest of the Victorian Period and Port Huron has already lost much of its significant and beautiful stock (see Image 1 and its caption). A great many Italiantes, an earlier period style that overlaps with Victorian, have also been lost due to fires and demolitions. Continue reading
PEEPS IN (local) HISTORY CONTEST!
Take photos of peeps (any type) at or in an area historic property or with a historic photo (the photo above is an example). Photos can be a close-up of a nice detail; don’t be afraid to get creative, and certainly have fun! Filtered, modified, and “photoshopped” images are also welcome! The included property doesn’t have to be a “landmark,” but can even be your own home–just as long as it’s at least 50 years old. Creativity is the top consideration, not quality (you don’t have to be a professional photographer!). The image above is a regular photo that has had filters applied to it (using ipiccy.com, but there are other free photo editing applications out there too). Photos taken with phones are of course acceptable. Rules and submission policy are below.
Deadline is April 13, 2019. Photos will be posted at PHAHPA.ORG at that time, and comments accepted. We will consider comments when judging the entries. Winners will be announced on April 20th.
Where the photos can be from: Port Huron, Port Huron Township, Fort Gratiot Township, or Marysville
Prizes (4): 1st Place, Enter Stage Right gift certificate for 2 tickets to a production + refreshments, plus a PHAHPA 16 GB flash drive; 2nd Place, Enter Stage Right gift certificate for 2 tickets to a production + refreshments; 3rd Place, $20 gift certificate to Kate’s Downtown coffee restaurant, and; Honorable Mention, $10 gift certificate to Port Huron’s downtown vinyl record store, State Perceptory.
Please support our kind sponsors, representing the local arts and downtown businesses!
Check out Enter Stage Right and their upcoming plays! 609 Huron Avenue, Port Huron.
Caffeine comes in great packages at Kate’s Downtown. Give them a try next time you’re in the heart of Port Huron.
Visit State Perceptory for vinyl records and more in downtown Port Huron (219 Huron Ave., open 10 am to 7 pm Mon-Sat).
- Photos can be any size–large file sizes may be reduced when we post them to our website. They can be “as is” or filtered, or even photoshopped (modified peeps photo inserted in, or layered onto, another photo, for example).
- Photos must be the submittor’s original work. By submitting a photo to this contest you are attesting to its originality. Photos must not have been used in any previous contest. Your name will be posted with the photo.
- You MUST provide information about the location and age of the property in the photo. If you do not know the exact age, say so, but provide other information as to why you think it meets the rule of “50+” years. Remember that the properties must be in either Port Huron, Port Huron Township, Marysville, or Fort Gratiot Township; these are currently the areas PHAHPA specifically serves. (Maybe next year we will have expanded our service area before the next contest.)
- If you want to submit a caption along with the photo, please do. You can have fun with the caption like we did in our sample. We reserve the right to edit the caption.
- One submission per person only.
- By submitting an entry you are agreeing that PHAHPA can post it at its website and use it at other social media places it utilizes, and that PHAHPA may also print it with marketing and informational materials if it ever deems that would be useful. You would retain full copyright otherwise.
- Email your submission to email@example.com, subject: Peeps Contest. Provide your name and another way to contact you (besides email) if you desire. If you are a winner we will contact you to ask the best way to get the prize to you.
- Have fun 🙂 (questions? write to firstname.lastname@example.org)
- We know, but just so you know, PHAHPA board members (the only volunteers associated with PHAHPA at this time; there are no employees) are not allowed to submit entries to the contest.
Below is an editorial by William Collins, Executive Director of the Thumb Land Conservancy. It was submitted to The Times Herald, but not published. A very short version can be found at the online paper, however.
The City of Port Huron seems content to sit on its hands while the Port Huron Yacht Club seeks to demolish the historic Pere Marquette Railroad bascule lift bridge over the Black River. Meanwhile, the City of Ashtabula, Ohio, on the south shore of Lake Erie has just approved construction of a new hotel designed specifically for views of Ashtabula Harbor and their historic bascule lift bridge over the Ashtabula River. Ashtabula is actually capitalizing on their “ugly” old steel, which is 6 years older than Port Huron’s and still in use. The developer of the new River Bend Hotel says, “We think that it’s going to be quite a unique concept, unrivaled in the region. It’s going to be an incredibly beautiful scene.” (River Bend Hotel planned for Ashtabula’s harbor district is town’s first new hotel in 100 years) Continue reading
We’re not advocating ancestor worship here at PHAHPA, but the report below–scanned to images so you can click on them to see large-scale–seems to be advocating the opposite. While Port Huron has lost many buildings to fires, it has lost a great many to redevelopment and blight removal. This 54-year-old report shows the attitude of the times, that the sturdy and artful buildings of downtown were “antiquated” and therefore ready for demolition. It is proud of the demolitions and of the building owners who otherwise covered up their old buildings’ “rustic” facades. When do you see buildings like that being made today, with actual brick, hardwoods, marble, etc.? Continue reading
As briefly written of in a previous post, William Soutar was lumberman Wm. Jenkinson’s private secretary in Port Huron for many years (City Directories, 1893-94, page 226, and 1899-1900, page 297). Although Soutar was connected to Jenkinson in some way by 1879, when he first appears in Port Huron a couple of years later he is a bookkeeper for Brooks & Joslyn (1883 City Directory, page 134; he is not listed in the previous 1881 directory, but that doesn’t tell us or not if he had actually moved here by then). Previous to living in Port Huron, Soutar worked and lived in Saginaw, although his actual home was in Rattle Run, St. Clair County, where his wife and other family members lived. Continue reading
Below are some letters and other items from the William Robert Soutar collection (used by permission from Lynne Secory). All are either written by William Jenkinson (1834-1896), or pertain to him and his family. A brief but very telling biography of Jenkinson is included below.
William Soutar was Jenkinson’s private secretary for many years, and even served as the estate’s secretary after his employer and friend’s death (City Directories, 1893-94, page 226, and 1899-1900, page 297). Although Soutar was connected to Jenkinson in some way by 1879, as evidenced by one of the letters here, when he first appears a couple of years later in Port Huron he is a bookkeeper for Brooks & Joslyn (1883 City Directory, page 134; he is not listed in the previous 1881 directory, but that doesn’t tell us or not if he had actually moved here by then). From the other letters in the collection, we know that Soutar was from Newport on Tay, Fife (or thereabouts), Scotland. In a letter from his parents, dated January 31, 1880 (#2.0207), the writer answers his inquiry about the Tay Bridge Disaster (1879) and tells him that none of his friends were on the train. Continue reading
Hello everyone. We added a new page for historic postcards, accessible from the top bar menu. This post is an announcement only, and through time any new postcard images will be posted there, not here. Please consider sharing post card images that you own with us, for public educational and research purposes; we will attribute all image “donations.” Below are a few examples.
The following article first appeared in Blue Water Healthy Living, and continues the research into the Petit family. More research needs to be done in order to place the Edward Petit house in the best possible context, but what we know of the home so far clearly indicates its significance.
By Vicki Priest (c) 2018
Some might say it’s fortuitous that an early home built by the first settled family of Port Huron is still standing. Some might also say that it’s quite amazing! While a few very old homes still grace our streets, many of course are gone. Some homes of very significant figures in the city’s history are no longer with us, notably Captain Moffat’s interesting home that stood near the library, Senator Conger’s house (and later, William Jenks’ second home) which used to grace the east side of Military Street where a vacant lot now languishes, the McMorran-Murphy mansion near the south end of town (also an empty lot), and Henry Howard’s house that stood where the Women’s Life building is. Akin to a soldier still standing amongst his fallen comrades, then, the Petit home at 1426 Griswold Street is made even more important by its rarity of survival. Continue reading
Before winter set in, anyone who noticed the paint being removed from the bricks of the old 3-story building at the northeast corner of Huron Avenue and Quay Street may have gotten a twinge of excitement about it. Well, anyone who appreciates the warmth and human scale of old buildings, anyway. And excitement is justified, since the brick facade will be put back in its natural state and repointed. Plain windows that had replaced some of the original arched ones will be removed and arched ones re-integrated. Missing cornice (most of which is gone) will be replaced. (The more recent and modern treatment at the first floor will remain, however.) Continue reading
For reference purposes, the following word-for-word history of Port Huron (city) is provided here. From the Combination Atlas Map of St. Clair County Michigan . . . by Everts & Stewart, Philadelphia, 1876, page XVIII.
In the year 1819, when the Hon. D. B. Harrington came to this place to make it his abiding place, nothing but a vast wilderness met the eye on every side. The Chippewa tribe of Indians were the occupants of this region; and during the fishing and hunting season they congregated at the mouth of the Black River in large numbers; and their huts and wigwams dotted the shores for a long distance north and south. There were at this time a few French families scattered around, whose names are mentioned in the early history of the County, and who at times were seriously annoyed by the Indians. The propensity to steal was largely developed among them. Continue reading
By Vicki Priest, July 2017 (c)
[Author’s note: All published material here is copyrighted. If referencing this article in your own work, give credit where credit is due. Original research that is shared at this site is about 99.9% uncompensated. Cite the author, cite PHAHPA, and consider making a donation. This note is made due to the use of the group’s work (including modified images) by others, who make it seem like their own work; this has led to a reduced amount of publicly shared work. Thank you.]
Walter Wyeth was one of the most prolific architects (if not the most) in Port Huron and St. Clair County during the first half of the twentieth century. He designed Sperry’s, the county courthouse (which has been added on to) and the St. Clair Inn/Hotel, a National Register-listed property, amongst many other buildings that are are still standing–or not.
Now, depending on how you think of “hometown,” some may think it amiss that I describe Walter as a “hometown” architect. He was not originally from Port Huron or even St. Clair County, but Illinois. Of Port Huron, Walter said it was “this beautifully-situated town on a river surpassed by few, if any.”i His love of Port Huron and decision to move here, marry a local young lady (who also had not been born here), and stay here for the rest of his life, is “hometown” enough for me. Historically, of course, everyone who wasn’t a local Native American was an immigrant and made Port Huron their hometown when they stayed; and Port Huron is definitely a city of immigrants (especially Canadians). Continue reading
Hello wonderful supporters and readers. As you hopefully know already, we’ve been incorporated as a nonprofit in Michigan and are working toward 501(c)3 status (currently, we’d like at least one more board member to file our forms, and more on that if you want to message us). So, we’re a fledgling organization with very little funds and need all the free promotions we can get. That includes sharing our posts from here or from our Facebook page. If you love Port Huron history and the historic built environment, please share our information with others! It’s discouraging (and odd) how very few people do in fact share about us (as a newer person that has come to this area and experiencing this disconnect, it is not surprising at all that so much has been demolished already). We will be conducting studies, of course, nominating buildings and districts to registers, publishing a journal (hopefully!) for authors covering the history and built environment of the Thumb area, and more. To do that takes support.
In any case, one of our new pages is called “I Love Your Rear,” where we’ll post the backs of buildings and then compare them to the fronts.
What does the front of this building look like?
The second page, Our Wish List (a subpage of About Us), will have–what else?–things the organization needs. All donations will be tax-deductible retroactively (for example, donations made this year will still be tax-deductible even if we don’t obtain 501(c)3 status until 2018, although we have no intention to wait that long).
Thanks so much for reading this far, and for any support you can give or do!