Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Presentation to Village Council

Last night, I was given the opportunity to speak in front of the Fowlerville Village Council. I had two things in mind; 1) to thank the council for providing a space for the historical collection (family histories, obituaries, reference books, census books, old copies of newspapers, and a myriad of other collectibles) in a large walk-in closet in the chamber hall, and 2) to present a copy of The Fowlerville Chronicles for the collection. Village President Wayne Copeland was entrusted with the copy. Everytime I have a chance to speak about putting together this book, I have to rein in my enthusiasm. Otherwise, I could speak for an hour (or longer) on the interesting bits of trivia I discovered in my research. I want to speak about all the many intriguing pioneers, events that shaped this village, businesses that provided security as well as products . . . see, I could go on and on.

Instead I opened the doors to the closet to show all of the binders and books that have been organized and I thanked the council for their generosity. And -- we will add my book to the collection.

If you would like to check out this collection, please feel free to visit with me the first and third Tuesdays of each month at about 9 am until 10 or 10:30.

See you in chamber.

Squint Shot 083110

Yesterday's two squint shots showed some of the interior walls without any plaster or drywall -- right down to the bare studs. Today's squint shows a former exterior wall and siding that still exists about two-thirds of the way toward the back of the house on East Grand River that now houses State Farm Insurance. Across the back of the second story is one large room that had been added on at a later date. While looking upward toward the vaulted ceiling, this siding and trim is still visible.
The siding shown is real wood, with numerous coats of paint.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Squint Shot 083010

We are still in the second floor of the State Farm offices, where the rooms have been stripped of all plaster. The bare studs and walls are showing until further work can be done. With these two squint shots, I found the the look of the insulation to be somewhat disturbing. It looks solid enough it probably did a very good job, but just how old could it be? There are so many old houses in Fowlerville, many built before the turn of the 1900 century, that it makes me wonder what other walls (inside and out) look like. What method of construction was used? What types of wood -- local or brought in? Where were the goods purchased to build houses?

In the early 1900s there were sometimes three to four hardware stores, selling everything from what was needed to built houses, sheds, and barns to everyday items such as groceries. As time goes along and is controlled by my day job, I will post articles and information about various businesses at different times in our history, such as in 1916, Titmus and Converse operated a hardware store and implement shop in the location now used by Fowlerville Hardware, in the portion with the arched stones on the second floor. In this picture below, you can see men standing in the doorway, reported to be Ezra Titmus and Fred Converse. Doug Burnie provided this picture to me when I first began working on squint shots and then as my information-gathering evolved into book form, it can be found on page 181 of The Fowlerville Chronicles, where you will find additional tidbits of interest.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Funnies

It is time for "guest squint shots." If anyone would like to send me photographs of something funny, touching, beautiful, or special to Fowlerville, I will post them to The Fowlerville Observer. If they are funny or ironic, a slot will be reserved on Sunday Funnies for the picture.

So to begin with, our first guest squint shot (first time ever a squint shot has been posted which was taken by someone other than yours truly) was offered up by Drew Prosch-Jensen. Drew is a friend of mine here in Fowlerville; both of us having met at the Fowlerville Library while participating in the writers' group. So, without further ado . . . .

Summertime is a great time for garage sales, big and small, but who is selling "Hugh?" Could that be Hugh Grant for sale? It's a very nice sign but too bad there wasn't "spell-check" available!

Squint Shot 082910

The last three days we have looked at various portions of the front stairway in the State Farm offices (house) on East Grand River. Katie Pikkaranin and I finally made it upstairs. The second floor is basically unfinished at this point -- or should I say, stripped of its former self. Bare studs, wire, wood floors, unplastered walls, and brickwork are all visible as they consider what to do next with this area. The studs and brickwork were of interest to me as with the crude cut marks in the wood and the uneven plaster.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Squint Shot 082810

The last two days, I have shown pictures inside the State Farm offices of the staircase leading up to the second floor. But before we headed upstairs, I took a peek at the woodwork under the stairway, where a closet has been created. This woodwork covered the underside of the staircase and has been beautifully cleaned and polished.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Squint Shot 082710

Here is another shot of the staircase up to the second floor of the State Farm house that has been renovated on East Grand River. Yesterday's squint shot showed the landing at about the halfway point up the steps. Extensive work has been done to bring this building up to code so it can be used for commercial purposes -- but the best part is that it still feels like walking into someone's home.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Too Much Fun

The "buzz" regarding The Fowlerville Chronicles has grown, at least for me, to the factor of "too much fun."

Yesterday, Maria Stuart interviewed me at 10 am at the Uptown Coffeehouse in Howell and by noon, an article was posted on her website, LivingstonTalk. Look for the article about some crazy woman that "loves Fowlerville." Guess that's me.

In the same day, the Livingston County Press and Argus, thanks to Candy Spiegel, published a wonderful article of an interview I had with her about a month ago. If you head to Livingston Press and Argus, scroll down to the bottom, look for the "tailgating" booklet, then head to page 11, you will see the article.

The Fowlerville Rotary Club also was gracious enough to ask me to speak about the "whys" and "hows" of the book. It was, once again, too much fun because so many memories were brought to the forefront for many of our members. Also, some of our newer members had all sorts of questions about the buildings and storefronts in which they reside.

I'm not an expert, but I have catalogued a ton of information and much of that is still residing somewhere in my brain and in my laptop. As the months progress, I will be posting many of the articles and information I came across in the my research while writing the book; most of which I could not fit into the overall picture.

Be sure to check back -- it might just be something you are interested in.

Squint Shot 082610

Once I walked through the front door of the Katie Pikkarainen State Farm Insurance house located at 215 East Grand River, across from the Zizka-Grand-Lockwood offices, this beautiful staircase greeted me. A window at the landing, before the staircase continues upward to the left, let the early morning sun shine in. The walls have all been redone and painted a medium tan, and the woodwork has all been refurbished. More pictures tomorrow of all the hard work in bringing this house up to commercial standards.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Squint Shot 082510

After spending a week's worth of squint shots at Curtis Grocery, it is now time to move onto another location. I had the pleasure of wandering around and through the State Farm offices located on East Grand River. Before I went inside, this interesting wood scroll-work caught my attention at the peak of the second floor. You will find, if you look up, so many houses in Fowlerville have some interesting woodwork from days long ago.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Squint Shot 082410

We are still browsing around Curtis Grocery. Once stored and forgotten at the back of the building, this coffee mill has been cleaned up and is now on display at the front of the store. Coincidentally, not too far from the coffee shop and seating area. Check it out the next time you run in for your weekly groceries.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Squint Shot 082310

Okay, this may look like a rather strange squint shot, but I couldn't resist. Yesterday's squint shot showed the various sizes and styles of shopping carts; one of which included a kid-size. Just like bicycle riders that need to be noticed while on the road, the mini-carts have flags attached so other shoppers are well-aware of the "shopper in training."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Squint Shot 082210

We are still exploring a bit of Curtis Grocery -- all these pictures taken the first weekend grand opening. The shopping carts were lined up; ready to be filled. Three different sizes of carts are available -- the traditional large one, the shorter more compact one, and then kid-size. All have "Curtis Grocery" nicely printed on the bar.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Squint Shot 082110

Yesterday's squint shot showed more of the mural in Curtis Grocery. Today's picture was taken a few steps back from that so you could see the tables and counter space where you can enjoy a baked goods and a cup of coffee while you make your shopping list, chat with friends, or just watch the other patrons.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Fowlerville Chronicles

It has arrived and is available for purchase -- The Fowlerville Chronicles -- compiled and edited by yours truly. It is a book of 425 pages, with close to 600 pictures, maps, signage, aerials, and a myriad of interesting bits of history. This is a book you will keep coming back to time and time again to see how Fowlerville grew from a settlement of only 14 settlers to what it is today. This book, a work of so many wonderful events and some not so much, is available for purchase on this website using Paypal. The cost includes shipping and sales tax. If you would like to purchase a book directly from me, please contact me by calling 517.223.8154.

Squint Shot 082010

This may look like a coffee shop overlooking an Italian field, but it is really a mural painted inside Curtis Grocery. As you enter the store, turn to your right, take about 20 steps, and you will be at this intimate little 16-seating coffee shop. The coffee is just a few steps past the alcove, where you will also see delicious homemade baked goods. Well, I don't know about you, but my mouth is watering -- their donuts are awesome!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Squint Shot 081910

The entire inside of Curtis Grocery has been remodeled, cleaned, and updated -- including new aisle signs. This squint shot shows the frozen foods aisle which is where it has always been. Most of the store is set up as years earlier, but it is well worth wandering up and down each aisle to see all the new products.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Livingston Press and Argus

Candy Spiegel has written an article regarding this very post, which you can find by clicking here and then heading toward the bottom of the page, scrolling the special issues until you find Livingston Home, click on that, then head to pages 6 and 7 (so sorry for this hassle but the link to the exact pages were not working).

It was a blast being interviewed, or as I mentioned to my husband, just call me "motor mouth." I basically downloaded 2 years of information of me putting together these pictures and doing what research I could accomplish around my day job (be sure to click on "day job" to see). She's a good listener!

Since you are here now, thank you also for checking out this website about Fowlerville. Each day there will be a new squint shot, sometimes articles, once in a while recipes and jokes so be sure to check back. And, as one of my visitors, please feel free to leave comments or maybe even suggestions of what you are interested in. I'm always glad to hear from my readers.

So, once again, thank you, Candy, for promoting The Fowlerville Observer.

Squint Shot 081810

Now that we have stepped inside Curtis Grocery, new paint, bright lights, beautiful floor, and art-deco pillars greet the shopper. This particular pillar is part of the courtesy counter where lotto tickets and cigarettes can be purchased. The colors are a dark teal, copper and taupe. The three counters for check-out of groceries are placed at the same angle as this particular counter. For the grand opening, there were flowers and balloons given by well-wishers, framing both sides of the counter.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Squint Shot 081710

The street sign for Curtis Grocery lists two specials worth stopping in during their first week back in business. I, for one, picked up both and am very happy with the quality of both of lettuce and the yummy hamburgers made from the ground chuck.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Squint Shot 081610

Just below the temporary Curtis Grocery sign over the entrance, this "now open!" sign makes sure everyone is aware that we now have another grocery store in town (don't forget Save-On). Now that Curtis Grocery has re-opened their doors, I'm sure it will be a work in progress for a while but for now, be sure to check back the next couple of days for additional shots of the first weekend of the opening.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Squint Shot 081510

On Friday, August 13, Curtis Grocery opened their doors once again.

It was announced early in the year that after extensive renovating and refurbishing, the Curtis family would once again be in the grocery business -- a family business that has been a tradition in the Fowlerville area since the early 1900s. At first, opening day was supposed to be in May, but due to problems found after Rosati's Marketplace closed, additional work was necessary. Opening day was tentatively pushed to sometime in July. The anticipation was building in the community -- so many people have mentioned to me how excited they were to be able to shop more in the downtown area.

And now we do. This temporary sign has been hung over the front door inviting all shoppers to enter. It is a very nice shopping experience, in my opinion; so head on over to Curtis Grocery and enjoy the scenery and shopping. I'll be posting additional squint shots over the next few days of what caught my eye in the first weekend of their opening.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Squint Shot 081410

There are so many points of interest to the buildings in the downtown area -- ones that go missing in our day-to-day running errands and deliveries. I like to look up once in a while just to see what I've been looking past. Recently I noticed a support over the doorway of the second building east on on the southeast corner. This metal bolt and decorative sunburst fades into the trimwork because of the paintwork -- but how interesting to look a little closer at. Next time you are heading to the bank next door, take a minute to look up and see something you've maybe never noticed.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Squint Shot 081310

Before we actually move on from the old Bell Opera House, this last shot was taken from North Grand River, looking eastward, with Olden Days Cafe just to the right of the door. The doorway? It is one of two entrances to the opera house that still remains. The other entrance, about where the entrance to Maria's School of Dance is, was removed years earlier.
If you check back a few days earlier, you will see this stairway from the top, looking down. Well, tomorrow we are onto other sights in, around, and near Fowlerville.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Squint Shot 081210

One more look at the ceiling at the center of the old Bell Opera House. Where the freshly-cut wood is visible is the location of the future firewall, once again dividing the opera house in half. The north half over Olden Days will be sealed off as before. Maria's School of Dance will be using the other portion.
At one time there were at least three opera houses in Fowlerville. The name of "opera house" is a bit misleading as, more often than not, these rooms were used as a place to meet. Sometimes it was a celebration, an orator performing in town for the evening, a traveling troupe working their way across the state; and, maybe, just maybe, a musical opera was presented to the village members.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Squint Shot 081110

At the center of the old Bell Opera House, running west to east, a wall was installed many years ago, cutting the room in half. On the south side of the wall, large poles, which serve as supports down the center of the room, still stand. The wall is gone. At the top of each pole, this decorative cap is still visible. As far as I know, they will remain -- will update some day with more pictures.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Squint Shot 081010

There are three boarded-up windows in the north portion of the old Bell Opera House that are still surrounded with the old trim. This is the portion over Olden Days Cafe. The portion over the future home of Maria's School of Dance also has three windows but the trim was removed long ago. If you take a minute to step out to North Grand Avenue and look up at this windows, you will see them covered with slatted wood.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Squint Shot 080910

As with other squint shots of other old buildings, I usually end up taking a picture of ceiling lath. The old Bell Opera House ceiling is no different. Some of the plaster has pulled away exposing thing strips of weathered and worn wood. We are about halfway through checking out photographs I was able to take in the exposed area of the opera house above Olden Days Cafe. Before to check back a few days and come back for more within the next few days.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Squint Shot 080810

As the old wall between Maria's School of Dance and Olden Days came down, these rafters became visible. The roof rafters are at a slant, taller at North Grand Avenue and then slanting downward to the east. There is no insulation, as popular in today's times, but bare wood from the ceiling to the roof. At the bottom of the picture, one of the support beams with a decorative top can be seen.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Squint Shot 080710

Cloth was used to cover walls and ceilings years ago. Now, as the years have advanced, that cloth has pulled away from the wood slats of the ceiling of the old Bell Opera House. The pattern that may have been on that cloth has been stained and changed by water damage and age.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Squint Shot 080610

The plaster along the north wall of the old Bell Opera House (above Olden Days Cafe) is crackled and worn. It has a certain beauty about it that has been covered for years and will not be seen again for many years.
As the renovations continue for Maria's School of Dance, and the firewall is put in place between the upstairs of Olden Days and above the dance school, this wall will be sealed up again.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Squint Shot 080510

We are still checking out the north portion of the old Bell Opera House, above Olden Days Cafe. The last couple of days, we have looked at the north stairway and trimwork. Just to the south of the upper doorway is this little pass-through. The wood has been broken, but the trimwork and latch are still intact. I am presupposing this was either a way to see who was coming up the stairway or to receive tickets as the audience filed up the steps. A couple months back, I spent time touring the two upper floors of the Harmon building and came across a similar pass-through.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Squint Shot 080410

Now that we looked down the north stairway in yesterday's pictures, I checked out the door frame. Curiously the name "Chad 1/05" was etched into the thick wood but no indication what that was all about. I was more interested in the hinge and how the metal was pressed with a design. How beautiful that must have looked at one time, in its heyday.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Squint Shot 080310

The last couple of days have shown more time spent in the old Bell Opera House -- the north portion above Olden Days that has been closed off for years -- and now, today's shots show the north stairwell that is also closed for entry. The entire time I was carefully wandering around amongst the rubble, birds were chirping away as if I was disturbing their residence. The next two shots were taken in the dark, hoping the flash would reveal what the stairway looks like. The walls are scratched with names and dates. And, as you can see, the stairway is narrow. As much as I wanted to, I did not venture down the steps. The window still at the top of the picture is one of the blocked-off windows you can see from the outside.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Railroad Work

Twice I happened along the railroad tracks on South Grand Avenue while these little railcars were traveling east to west. An extensive amount of rail work is being taken care of. I truly appreciate that but I can't hardly look at these little railcars and not think of a clown parade. I am so sorry for this reference but as I sat at the tracks waiting to head farther south, that is exactly what came to mind. Following are various pictures I was able to snap before heading along my merry way.
I am not sure, but I have heard road work will begin on South Grand Avenue between the tracks and the highway. We can only hope.

Squint Shot 080210

Yesterday's squint shots showed piles of rubble on the second floor of the buildings on the east side of North Grand Avenue. Today's pictures show an expanded view of the portion over Olden Days Cafe, looking from the south side of the old Bell Opera House to the north half that has been closed off. The three boarded-up windows front North Grand Avenue . . . . . . and this is the north wall of the room . . . . . . and this iswhere the stage and dressing rooms were located. The portion of the stage you can see at the right side of the photograph has always been visible above The Decorating Center; a portion of this room used as storage. This north portion of the opera house has been closed off for many, many years. As with future squint shots, you will see the wall treatment, the north entrance to the hall, and closeups of other interesting bits uncovered when the wall dividing the room in half was torn down.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Squint Shot 080110

I am sure about now you are looking at these two squint shots of rubble and saying "what?" Well, this is the beginning of a series of squint shots that I had a great opportunity to take. About a month ago, the common wall between the second floors above the old Decorating Center store (soon to be Maria's School of Dance) and Olden Days was removed. With all of the redecorating the owners of Maria's are doing, one such part of the project was to install a firewall between the two pieces of property. This will bring the buildings up to code.

When the old wall was removed, Maria Usher gave me a call wondering if I would like to see what they found. Of course, the answer was a very quick "yes."

I grabbed my camera and headed into town. With the wall torn down, the north half of the old Bell Opera House can now be seen, pretty much as it has stood, untouched, for close to a hundred years. The Bell Opera House was used into the early 1900s, but then once it was of no use, the storefronts below were divided further, thus dividing the second floor. During the next few days, all the pictures I could take will be shown. As always, I would like to extend a huge thank you to Carrie and Maria for allowing me access to wander and take pictures to my heart's content.