St. Clair Shores Public Library 22500 Eleven Mile Road, St. Clair Shores, MI 48081-1399 Phone: (586) 771-9020 Fax: (586) 771-8935 Director: Rosemary Orlando
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Looking Back at St. Clair Shores
2015 Articles

Looking Back at St. Clair Shores is a series of historical articles featured most months in the St. Clair Shores Sentinel newspaper. Unless noted otherwise, the photographs used are part of the St. Clair Shores Historical Commision's Photograph Collection. These photographs, along with many others, are available to view through the Digital Media Archive.

Previous articles can be found by clicking on the year.

Looking Back at St. Clair Shores
December 23, 2015

Children Line Up to See Santa at the St. Clair Shores Recreation Center, December 1954

Children Line Up to See Santa at the St. Clair Shores Recreation Center, December 1954
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You can read the excitement on the children’s faces as they wait in line to give Santa their wish list! This photograph was taken in December, 1954 in the ballroom of the St. Clair Shores Recreation Center. The Blossom Heath roadhouse, located at 24800 Jefferson Avenue was originally built in 1911 as the Kramerhof. The property was purchased in February, 1946 by the Village of St. Clair Shores and renamed the St. Clair Shores Civic Center. Over one hundred and fifty gallons of paint were used to restore the main floor rooms. The Blossom Heath sign across the driveway was also taken down at this time.

The temporary Village offices were located here and, after 1951, all departments except Police and Fire as well. In April, 1957 the new Municipal Building on Jefferson was completed, and the building was renamed again as the St. Clair Shores Recreation Center. The ballroom was the scene of Recreation Department parties, sock hops and activities. With its beautifully restored ballroom and its original name, Blossom Heath is again a popular site for parties and weddings.

 

Looking Back at St. Clair Shores
October 14, 2015

The Village of St. Clair Shores Fire Department in 1928

SCS Fire Department 1928
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The North End St. Clair Shores Village Fire Department gathered at the station located on Jefferson Avenue and Avon Street for a photograph with their mascot dog on October 28, 1928. Standing by the left fire truck, from left to right, were: Ken Bell, Norm Whiting and Chief James Stapleton. On the left truck were, from left to right: Harvey Burke, John Koepsell, Captain Jim Bell, Ed Bell and Dave Meldrum.

Standing by the right fire truck, from left to right, were: George Springer, George Supernaugh, and Wesley Nesky. On the right truck, from left to right were: Ed Trombley, John Boyd, L. Vincent, Tom Dickman, Roy Vernier, Clarence Vernier, Otto Robel and Clarence Lacey. John Boyd was killed on a fire run on November 4, 1928.

According to the July, 1928 Nellis Newspaper Pageant of Progress Edition, no fire protection was available in St. Clair Shores previous to May, 1927. At that time, the Village Commission purchased two chemical and pumping engines, with a capacity of 700 gallons per minute, and located one fire engine at each end of the village. Two volunteer fire departments were organized; and in April, 1928 the Commission appointed a Chief of the Fire Department. At that time there were twenty volunteers in each company. Two siren whistles were established which could be heard for four miles. Fire engines at that time could reach any part of the village within ten minutes after the call was received.

Looking Back at St. Clair Shores
September 16, 2015

St. Clair Shores Police Motorcycle Squad in 1928

SCS Police Motorcycle Squad 1928
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Chief Harold Lanstra posed with the members of the St. Clair Shores Village Police Motorcycle Squad on June 19, 1928. They were photographed in the Police Yard, which was located on the northeast corner of the Davis block near Harper and Eleven Mile Road. From left to right were Trufly Dubey, Harvey Champine, Jim Trombly and Jim Nelson. In June, 1926 the first Police Department had been organized with a team of four men and two motorcycles. John (Jack) Doyle was appointed chief and Harold Lanstra, Abel Allard and Harvey Champine were patrolmen. All three of these officers later became chief during their careers. By 1927, the Police Force had grown by two men and two four-cylinder Chevrolet cars. The first scout cars had no radios. They would call in to get their assignments from the fire station at Thirteen Mile and Jefferson, or a pay phone in a restaurant at the south end of the village.

These rough and ready officers were ready to pursue speeding vehicles on their powerful machines, patrol village streets and watch out for rumrunners along the shoreline. Goggles helped to keep the bugs and rain out of the officer’s faces, but helmets were not required!

 

Looking Back at St. Clair Shores
July 22, 2015

A Moment in Time on the Richard Maison Farm

Paradise-on-the-Lake Bandshell
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Richard and Rose Maison’s farm was located in the Grossedale Subdivision near the northern boundary of St. Clair Shores. This photograph was taken around 1900. According to the U.S. Census at that time and from notes on the image, Benjamin was 6; Rosa was 8; mother Rose was holding 2 year old Archie; Matilda (known as Tillie) was 4. An older daughter, possibly identified as Mary, stood near her father, Richard, who was holding the reigns of his horse. The man seated on the horse at the right may be one of the older brothers who lived at home – Edmund, George or John. Brothers Jessie, Henry, and Fred, who were aged 8 to 13, were not in the photograph. Another son named Frank had previously died in infancy in 1888.

A survey of the family’s genealogy using Ancestry and other genealogy databases revealed that Richard was the son of Michael Maison, and his wife Rose was the daughter of Frank St. Aubin and Sarah Forton. They died in 1923 and 1914, respectively. Their sons Fred and Benjamin married Agnes and Edna Beste; Henry and Jessie married Mable and Gertrude Champine. Son Edmund was working at a Mount Clemens bath house in 1917. He married Louise La Forest there in 1906. Many of the Maison family members are buried in St. Gertrude Cemetery on Twelve Mile Road.

 

Looking Back at St. Clair Shores
June 17, 2015

Paradise-on-the-Lake Bandshell

Paradise-on-the-Lake Bandshell
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When you are enjoying the beach at Veterans Memorial Park, you are on the spot of the old Paradise-on-the-Lake band shell. After the stock market crash in 1929, the Detroit Masonic Country Club was sold. The club and golf course, incorporated as the privately-owned Lake Shore Country Club, operated until April, 1939. The band shell, which was built in 1937, was used as an outdoor Dance Hall. The village of St. Clair Shores obtained the property for Memorial Park, and with the help of the Women’s Civic League who held fundraisers, the park became a reality.

The band shell was the scene of Memorial Day ceremonies after the end of World War II. It was demolished in 1955 during the design and construction of Memorial Park. The baton class in this image was part of the recreation program held at the park. Some of the cement walks remain underneath the sand and grass of the beach

 

Looking Back at St. Clair Shores
May 27, 2015

Jefferson Beach Amusement Park Fire
April 20, 1955

Jefferson Beach Amusement Park Fire
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A spectacular fire damaged Jefferson Beach Amusement Park sixty years ago on the morning of Friday, April 20, 1955. The damage was estimated at $40,000. According to the St. Clair Shores Herald news report, the blaze started in the Fortune Teller’s concession. The tower on top of that building collapsed on the fire hose and the wind helped spread the flames to the pop-gun concession, the archery range and the funhouse. Firefighters from nine communities responded to the alarm. St. Clair Shores Fire Department under Chief Eckhout brought five pieces of equipment including three pumping engines, 26 men and 4,500 ft. of hose.

 The Roseville Fire Department brought two pumpers, two trucks, 2,500 ft. of hose and 33 men. Fire equipment and firefighters from Grosse Pointe Shores, Harper Woods, Harrison Township, East Detroit, Warren, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe Woods, and Macomb Township arrived at the scene. Fire Chaplain Father O’Connor from Sacred Heart parish in Roseville also answered the call. Chief Eckhout asked for help from Roseville and welcomed the other responders from surrounding communities.

Park president and manger Harry Stahl announced that those parts of the amusement park that were not damaged by fire would be open for business Friday evening. Rebuilding would begin immediately. The Jefferson Beach Amusement Park closed soon after in 1959.

 

Looking Back at St. Clair Shores
April 22, 2015

A Look Back at Nine Mile and Mack in St. Clair Shores

A Look Back at Nine Mile and Mack in St. Clair Shores
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Driving on Nine Mile Road during the flood of May, 1948 was a challenge. In this image, two automobiles of various vintages were trying to pass each other in the middle of the road near the Dairy Bar. Without curbs and storm sewers to handle the water, the stores and houses were in the path of the wake left by passing vehicles.

The Dairy Bar was located at 22535 9Mile Road. It was also known as the Roseville Creamery. Operated by Leighton Cox, the dairy sold only ice cream and milk. The main Roseville Creamery company was located on 12 Mile Road in Roseville. The Dairy Bar was listed in the December, 1948 and April, 1950 local telephone directories. Notice the public telephone sign outside the building: it is almost impossible to find a public telephone today in the age of cell phones.

 

Looking Back at St. Clair Shores
March 11, 2015

Big Bear Market

Big Beark MarketClick the image to view a
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The Big Bear Market was located on Greater Mack on the site of present-day Great Lakes Ace Hardware. This was one of the first major grocery stores in St. Clair Shores. Big Bear Markets of Michigan operated 33 supermarkets. By 1957, Big Bear Market changed into a Wrigley Store. The brief history of this market in St. Clair Shores comes with an interesting story about supermarket monopolies.

 In 1955, one of the fastest and largest mergers in the local retail food market occurred. ACF-Brill Motors, a company that formerly manufactured buses, in the space of a few months gained control of 135 supermarkets with annual retail sales of $240 million. The company purchased 50% of Wrigley Stores, Inc., acquired control of wholesale food distributor Abner A. Wolf, Inc., purchased Big Bear Markets of Michigan, Humpty Dumpty Supermarkets in Oklahoma, and 13 other markets operating under the name William Edwards Co., in Ohio. The newly formed company was renamed ACF-Wrigley Stores, Inc. In 1957, hearings were held in the U.S. Congress before the Sub-committee on Antitrust and Monopoly to amend the Clayton Antitrust Act to prevent price fixing by large corporations. The National Association of Retail Grocers provided the above information in their exhibit to the report on supermarket mergers.

 

Looking Back at St. Clair Shores
January 21, 2015

Otto Weber's and Bill Frasard's General Store circa 1920s

Otto Weber's and Bill Frasard's General Store
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One of the earliest general stores in St. Clair Shores was located on Defer Road (now called Nine Mile Road) near Jefferson Avenue. It was operated by Otto Carl Henry Weber and William “Bill” Frasard. The store was built around 1914. Otto’s wife, Theresa, ran a boarding house on the second floor. Otto Weber’s World War I draft card from 1917 listed his occupation as a merchant in St. Clair Shores. The Weber family was living in Grosse Pointe Farms at that time.

According to William Frasard’s World War I Draft card, he and his wife Rose were living in Grosse Pointe Farms as well. Rose passed away from pneumonia in 1918. According to the 1920 U.S. Census, William and his sons Robert and Milton were living on Lake Shore Road. He was employed as a hotel laborer. In 1924, William married Alice Marsack and had another son William, Jr. by 1930. (Note: There are many spelling variations of the Frasard name on the Census and in common family usage. This was on his marriage certificate and military form of the 1920s.)

The original building was later divided into apartments, which were occupied until the building was torn down in 2000.