I have had the pleasure of helping put together a self-guided walking tour brochure of selected buildings, churches, and houses.  That brochure will be available for the celebration.  In the meantime, as there was very limited space for text in the brochure, I have been asked to put together a long-form version to be posted on this website.

Walking Tour of Fowlerville’s Historical Homes, Churches, and Downtown Buildings
Fowlerville has a rich history as an agricultural and manufacturing community, with beautiful, turn-of-the-century houses and traditional-style churches surrounding four blocks of New England-style brick buildings in the downtown area.  As you stroll through the business district, feel free to peek in windows or do a little shopping.  And, as you admire the privately-owned historic homes, please respect the owners’ privacy.

As you read this guide, please note pictures follow most of the descriptions – some old and some current photographs.  The brief histories are exactly that for to tell the whole story of these houses, churches, and buildings, it would be a full-sized book.  To read more about the history of Fowlerville, please see the end of this guide for websites and books available.

This walking tour begins at the southeast corner of East Grand River and South Grand Avenue as shown on the map at the end of this guide, starting at the two-story building facing East Grand River (#1).
#1. C.D. Hamilton and Co. – 100 East Grand River 
G.D. Hamilton was an industrious furniture maker in the mid-to-late 1800s and, in 1903, his son, Claude D. Hamilton, an accomplished vocalist and violinist, opened a store, offering household items and dry goods such as linens and towels as well as ladies’ wear, silks, and shoes, while milliners, doctors, and dentists rented rooms upstairs. After over 60 years the Hamilton family closed the business and, this building and the one directly east of it soon became Ruth’s Resale.  (Picture ca. 1925)

#2. S.T. Blackmer’s Clothing Store – 118 then 124 East Grand River  
Blackmer and Minto opened their menswear store in 1896 at 145 East Grand River but within a few years relocated to a larger storefront across the street (Byerly’s). As the business grew, a larger and more modern storefront was called for so around 1906, they moved to 124. Years later, a young Frank Utter went to work for the Blackmer family and eventually he took over the business, renaming it Utter’s Menswear. The store was expanded into two storefronts at 130 and 124, until it closed in 1989. (Picture to follow ca. 1945)

#3. Tomion’s Dairy – 130 East Grand River
Walter Tomion was a junior at Alma College when word got to him from his father a building would soon be available to open a dairy store; something he had wanted to do. In 1922, a year before graduating, he leased this building and opened Tomion’s Dairy, supplying milk and ice cream to the community. For 40 years, his soda fountain was a favorite for young and old.
Pasteurization and glass bottles were two modern conveniences to occur during Tomion’s era. (Picture ca. 1960s)

#4. G.A. Newman Building – 134 and 136 East Grand River
This brick structure was built in 1904 by G.A. Newman (note name above the doorways) after a devastating fire destroyed all of the wooden buildings along this block. Containing two storefronts, it has housed a bank, jewelry and electronics repair, Rossetter’s Bakery, the post office, and retail. For many years, a barber shop was located west of the building (now bricked in); a long, narrow cubby-hole barely wide enough for a chair, the customer, and his barber. During the mid-1900s (picture ca. 1975), the west side of the building served as the post office location and is now where Shear Image is located.

#5. Line’s Dime Store – 136 East Grand River
In the mid-1900s, penny candy, surprise grab bags, toys, and household items could be purchased at this variety store. But long before it was a “five and dime” store, it was known as the Vaudette, where silent movies were shown and eventually “talkies.” William H. Peek was the owner of the movie theater (REO sign in window) and eventually purchased the Defendorf house, which can be seen at the far left side of the photograph (see #6 and #38). (1917 picture follows)
#6. Eaton’s Standard Service Station – Parking lot at South Second Street and East Grand River
During this same time, a small, compact building butted up against Line’s. You could have your automobile filled up, get the oil changed, and have the air in your car’s tires checked. As one resident related, riding double on her friend’s bike resulted in accidentally crashing into quart glass bottles filled with oil that had been stacked by the gas pumps. Harold Young, owner of the station in the 1940s, made these young girls pay a nickel a quart for each one they broke.
Imagine, though, years earlier, a two-story house with a doctor’s office front on East Grand River. Dr. Byron Defendorf owned the two-story house, with attached office, and it stood at this corner until sometime after 1922 when William H. Peek purchased and moved the house to 701 East Grand River (see #38). (Picture ca. 1940 follows)
#7. St Agnes Church, now the Village Chapel - 123 South Second Street
As early as 1837, home masses were being celebrated in this area. The first Catholic Church was built in 1891 at the corner of Maple and Church streets. On May 15, 1909, a devastating tornado tore off the roof and crumbled the walls but, by October 20, 1909, a new cornerstone was laid at this location. (Current day photo) (St. Agnes is now located at 855 East Grand River.)
#8. First United Methodist Church - 201 South Second Street
The earliest recorded formal religious service in Fowlerville was held in 1838 in the home of Richard P. Bush led by Rev. John Cosart. The original church was a white, wooden frame building dedicated in 1868. The current building’s cornerstone was laid in 1916. Since that time, a two-story educational wing, an extension of the sanctuary, handicap accessibility, and a new entrance have been added. (Picture ca. 1930s)
#9. 132 East Frank Street
This square Italianate home was built circa 1872 by Edwin E. Walton, an early dentist in Fowlerville. In an article found in The Fowlerville Review, Dr. Walton saved over 3,000 teeth he had pulled and then glued them to a frame.  By 1926, Tom Woods of Woods Drug store lived in this house. (Current day photo)
#10. 245 South Grand Avenue
A.D. Benjamin, whose father, Delsey, was an early settler of the area, built this hip-roofed Victorian/Italianate house in 1873.
It was the first house on the block to have indoor plumbing. It has been restored after being divided into apartments during the Depression. (Current day photo)
#11. Carey Centennial Baptist Church - 214 South Grand Street
Thirteen people met in 1869 to organize this church. Their first meeting hall was built in 1873 on Ann Street and, in 1873, relocated to 435 East Grand River (see #34). By 1890, the existing location was acquired and the building was dedicated in 1894. Since that time, classrooms, the pastor’s study, and increased worship space has been added. (Picture ca. 1930)
Before heading onto the next building, take a minute to look directly across the street from the Baptist church to the village offices. Up until a few years ago, the Handy Township and village of Fowlerville offices were located in the township hall (see #18), and the village office building served as a funeral home. Originally, the house was built by S.L. Bignall, a state representative.
#12. Lockwood Exchange/Hotel – Across from Curtis Grocery on South Grand Avenue
In 1902, fire destroyed the wooden structure known as the Lockwood Exchange. By the following year, this brick building (right side of picture, ca. 1903), renamed the Lockwood Hotel, was built serving as a place to stay, have a meal, be treated by traveling physicians and optometrists, get a haircut, or even visit with a clairvoyant. Note the stage coach in front of the hotel.
#13. Morlock Basket Factory – Just north of Carey Baptist Church, south side of Curtis Grocery parking lot
Before the 1950s, Floyd Morlock created floral and funeral baskets, made from Indonesian reeds and Argentine willows. With eight employees, nearly 500 baskets in at least 30 different styles would be made weekly. The two-story building (left side of picture, ca. 1903) was torn down in the early 1970s. Earlier, these buildings housed numerous businesses from a barber shop, to a commercial laundry, to a boarding house (Ruth Drew). Morlock’s was one of many manufacturing concerns that have been in Fowlerville; others being the Starkey Stave company (mid-1800s), Fowler Chair company (1940s), Utilex (1950s).
#14. Former Hotel then Service Station – Southwest Corner
In 1880, the Commercial Hotel was built to replace the Reason House, which had been destroyed by fire in 1878. Traveling salesmen could show their wares in areas provided on the first floor known as “sample rooms.” The hotel was torn down in 1937 and a Hi-Speed (then Pure, then 76) gas station stood at this corner for many years. (1937 Picture follows)
#15. Roy T. Sprague Ford Garage – 103 West Grand River
The Ford garage was completed in 1917. At the time, it was considered “daringly extravagant for a village the size of Fowlerville” as reported by G.L. Adams, local newsman for The Fowlerville Review. It has been rumored Henry Ford designed this curved-roof building specifically for anyone selling his automobiles. The Bob Smith Ford dealership was in operation until a few years ago when a new owner built a modern facility at the I-96 exchange. (Picture ca. 1920s)
#16. Fowlerville Hardware Store – 110 West Grand River
Shortly after the Civil War, J.L. Cook began a hardware store and, by 1891, the arched-stone building was built and continues to this day as a hardware store. Before these two storefronts were combined, the building to the west was used for farm implements and buggy repair and, in later years until 1956, as the Orr Theatre. As memories go, even if all seats were sold out, movie-goers were allowed to stand at the back of the theater to view the movie. Where a lean-to shed is shown, a dental office now stands. Doug and Mary Burnie, current owners of the hardware store, are in possession of 1891 architect plans for the building on the right side of the photograph. (Picture ca. 1915)
#17. Palmerton Block – 100 West Grand River
This is the third structure at this corner as, in both 1876 and 1891, fire destroyed the first two. Originally called the Palmerton block, it was renamed the Sidell block in 1945, and now houses Harmon Real Estate. In 1891, an etched stone was placed on the ground level indicating it as the Palmerton block, which Will Sidell covered with a metal plaque renaming the building. Years ago, the second floor provided office space for doctors, dentists, and lawyers while the third floor was occupied by the International Order of Odd-Fellows. Evidence remains of those years long-gone. (Picture ca. 1890s follows)
#18. Handy Township Hall – 135 North Grand Avenue
As you walk along the west side of North Grand Avenue, Lucky’s Pub is the first building after walking past the east side of Harmon Real Estate. Lucky’s has also been known as Elm’s Restaurant and the Haystack Tavern. The next building, which was converted into apartments in 1970, was the Vogt Food Locker where frozen food was stored in rented lockers (and even earlier, it served as a meat packing/slaughter business). Drs. F.H. and C.H. Lamoreaux offices now houses Reggie’s Barber shop. The next, a blue two-story building with pet grooming available, was the location for the first telephone company. The one-story south portion of the township offices was the printing office for The Fowlerville Review and then the three-story building houses the rest of the Handy Township offices. At one time, the township and village offices (which are now located across from the Baptist church, #11), the first ladies library, and fire department shared the ground floor, while the Masons used the third floor, and a community center was sandwiched between. This center began as Lovely’s Opera house and, years later, used by the Rotary Club for weekly meetings. At one time, it was also used as an activity center, where archery lessons were given and shuffleboard played (shuffleboard markings still on the wood floor). (Picture ca. 1890s follows)
#19. Vogt’s Funeral Home – 223 North Grand Avenue
Vogt’s Undertaking and Furniture business was owned and operated by John Vogt, the first president of the Commercial Club in the mid-1900s. He and his family lived and worked at this location into the 1950s and soon after, this house was converted into apartments. (Picture ca. 1910s)
#20. Centennial Park – Behind Fire Department and Library buildings
When the schools were located on North Collins Street, this was Centennial Field on land donated by Louis Birdsall; used for football and baseball games, marching band practice, and a perfect area for an ice skating rink. In 1948, lights were added to extend use time. By 1998, this unused field became a project for the Rotary Club; now a community park known as Centennial Park.
#21. Livingston (Birdsall) Mill – Corner of North Grand Avenue and Mill Street
This early grist mill, for grinding wheat and corn into flour, became Birdsall Mill in the 1920s. Mr. Birdsall, allergic to feed dust, wore a mask at work. In later years, it became the H. M. & G. Feed company, owned by Orla and Jim Hall, George Monroe, and Roy Grover. The mill was closed in 1961 and used as an intentional burn exercise (pictured) by the fire department.
#22. Frank’s Market and Bell Opera House – East Side of North Grand Avenue
Thirteen brick buildings in the northeast quadrant were built in 1891 to replace wooden structures lost in a huge fire in March of that year. The Bell Opera house, located on the second floor (first seven windows from the left), was a busy meeting hall into the 1920s for community meetings, orators, plays and concerts, and highly-anticipated comedic performances. In 1921, Clyde Curtis opened a grocery store and his son, Frank, expanded by combining two storefronts. For many years, The Decorating Center was located here; now Maria’s School of Dance. (Picture ca. 1950s )

#23. Spencer’s Drugs, then Woods Drug Store – 105 East Grand River
J.P. Spencer opened his drug store in the mid-1830s. By the mid-1900s, it was known as Woods Drug store, where Thomas Woods would fill prescriptions, sold ice cream and soda fountain drinks, and stocked health and personal items. The drug store was closed in 1969.
During recent renovations, the original entrance to the drug store was visible in the slope and cut of the concrete floor. (Picture ca. 1950s)
#24. Spagnuolo’s Confectionary Store – 115 East Grand River
In December, 1924, George Spagnuolo purchased the Novara Confectionary, changed its name, and delighted customers with candies, ice cream, soda fountain drinks, and fruits until the late 1960s. Here you could find the second refrigerated soda fountain installed in Michigan (1926) and the first Coca Cola machine in the village. In later years, it became Schade’s party store, then the Shady Lady saloon. (Picture ca. 1930s follows)
#25. Fowlerville Pharmacy – 119 East Grand River
In the early 1900s, Clayton Fenton owned and operated Fenton Drug store. It is said, Mr. Fenton and Thomas Woods would help each other by trading off which store would stay open on the weekends. Now known as Fowlerville Pharmacy, it has also been Tim’s Pharmacy and Proos. (Picture ca. 1970s)
#26. Sweet Sensations – 129 East Grand River
In 1946, George and Ellen Spagnuolo converted the rear of the store into their manufacturing plant for candy and ice cream while using the front for a small wholesale business. Years earlier, it was a bustling meat market, where chickens were slaughtered in the back lot and a large storage room at the middle of the building kept the food cold. That meat locker now serves as the office for this chocolate store. (Picture ca. 1890s)
#27. Twin-Q Inn Restaurant – 131 East Grand River
Before and after World War II, the Twin-Q Inn Restaurant took up two storefronts (Detroit Edison and Home Restaurant). It is said Detroit residents would take road trips here for the elegant dining. Eventually the bar area was partitioned off from the dining room and, years later, the west half became Howard’s Market (now Save-On) and the old bar area, the Bloated Goat. (Picture ca. 1940s)
#28. Lepard Chevrolet – 145 East Grand River
The two-story building (at right) at the corner of North Second and East Grand River has been many things; in 1896, the first location for Blackmer & Minto, at one time a sales room for Lepard Chevrolet in the mid-1900s, and for many years, the dance studio for Maria’s School of Dance. (Picture ca. 1910s)
#29. 226 East Grand River
Fred Kuhn built this Victorian-style house ca. 1890, while his brother, William, built the Victorian house at 408 East Grand River. After his death in 1935, it became the office and home of Dr. B.H. Glenn and wife, Nellie, who was the village historian for many years. (Picture ca. 1910s)
#30. Collins Street Elementary, now Senior Center – 203 North Collins Street
The Collins Street Elementary was opened September 19, 1949, with five classrooms and an office area, which served as the district office until Munn School opened in 1955. All elementary classrooms were moved to Smith Elementary in March, 1968. North Collins Street School, opened in 1923, and was located across the street creating a “campus” for the schools. By 1996, new buildings were in use and this three-story schoolhouse was soon demolished this building. (Picture ca. 1930s)
During a polio outbreak in 1940, one of the football players – Harold Peckens – contracted the disease and the football season was cancelled. Harold was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Since there were three stories in the North Collins Street School, two classmates would carry him and his wheelchair up and down the three flights of stairs as needed throughout the school day.
#31. 421 East Grand River
This stately red brick Georgian Revival house was built sometime between 1922 and 1935 by Deo Blackmer, son of S. Thurlow Blackmer, the original owner of the men’s clothing store at the turn of the century. S.T. Blackmer lived in the house next door to the east where remnants of the foundation of an earlier carriage house can still be found at the rear of the property. (Current day photo follows)
#32. 422 East Grand River
This Craftsman bungalow, with stone foundation and tapered stone pier columns, was built in 1916-17 by A.J. Beebe, undertaker, furniture and coal dealer, and co-owner in stave factory. By the early 1930s, Harold Raby lived in this house. Mr. Raby purchased The Fowlerville Review from G.L. Adams in 1929. Mr. Adams had edited and published the local newspaper from 1874 until 1929 – 55 years. In the 1950s, LaRaine Jones had a dance studio in the basement. (Current day photo)
#33. 434 East Grand River
F.H. Starkey built this large Italianate villa 1881-83. Years later, Judge A.E. Cole resided and died here, passing away in the front room from a heart attack. After that, one of Judge Cole’s unmarried daughters lived in the home. The house has undergone extensive expansion and renovation since 1992 when the current owners converted it back to a single-family dwelling. (Current day photo follows)
#34. 435 East Grand River
This rental house served as the original Baptist church, built on land donated by Ralph Fowler on Ann Street in 1873. It was moved to this location in 1875 and used for 19 years. Only the entrance and roof line resemble the original church structure.
By 1894, the brick building on South Grand Avenue (#11) was built and continues to be used. (Current day photo)
#35. 501 East Grand River
This 1896 Victorian style has Queen Anne elements and contains extensive original oak woodwork. The date was carved in the foundation, presumably by the local lumberyard owner, who also may have built the house at 425 East Grand River. (Current day photo follows)
#36. 525 East Grand River
This Craftsman bungalow, built in 1921 as a mail-order Sears & Roebuck catalog house, contains original built-ins such as a breakfast nook and cabinetry. (Current day photo)
#37. 621 East Grand River
This Italianate-style home can be found on an 1862 plat map at the southwest corner of a 40-acre farm, with this property at the eastern edge of the town. The original cemetery was just to its east until 1884. Fencing sections for the cemetery have been found. (Current day photo)
#38. 701 East Grand River
This Greek Revival-style house, built in 1857, is known locally as the Daly-Eaton House. It was originally located at the corner of South Second Street and East Grand River (bank parking lot, #6); the house portion moved sometime after 1922 and the front doctor’s office moved to 235 South Collins Street. During the time the house was being moved to its current location, Civil War letters, arrowheads, and bones were discovered before the house was put in place. Also, Indian burial remnants have been found on this property indicating it may have been a burial ground before it became the original cemetery for the village. (Current day photo follows)
#39. St. John’s Lutheran Church – 132 South Benjamin Street
A group of Lutherans began meeting at the home of Carl and Amalia Bessert in 1882. By 1898, a wooden church stood at this location. In 1928, the present church was built where German-only services were conducted until a few years later. Over time, it has had two additions; one for Christian education and one for barrier-free access. (Picture ca. 1930s)

As you have wandered through the village, looking at businesses, homes, and churches, please realize this is only a very small portion of the vast history of this village.  For more information, visit The Fowlerville Observer at or Fowlerville’s History at where you can read a longer version of this brochure.  Books are also available for purchase through both websites.