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THEN AND NOW

GREAT LAKES BAY REGION HISTORY COMES ALIVE
WITH INVESTMENTS IN RESTORATION AND REDEVELOPMENT

BY NANCY SAJDAK MANNING


TEMPLE THEATRE, SAGINAW

The neoclassic-style Temple Theatre, 203 North Washington Avenue in downtown Saginaw, opened on July 28, 1927 as a vaudeville and silent movie palace, with seating for 2,200 (1,750 today) and was coined "The Showplace of Northeastern Michigan." The Elf Khurafeh Shrine building was designed by Osgood and Osgood of Grand Rapids, constructed by the Henry C. Webber Construction Company of Bay City, and leased to the W.S. Butterfield Theatre chain. A 10-piece orchestra and the uniquely designed Butterfield Special Barton Pipe Organ #195 accompanied early Temple performances. The organ, historically restored and maintained by the Temple Theatre Organ Club, is still featured regularly.

As interest in vaudeville declined, the Temple became a first-run movie theatre until 1976. After Butterfield left its lease, the theatre was used by community groups and rented for live performances and motion pictures. Following sale by the Shrine, the theatre fell into disuse and deterioration, finally facing demolition.

In 2002, Dr. Samuel Shaheen and his wife, Patty, purchased the Shrine complex and began nine months of renovations. The theatre and adjoining ballroom facilities reopened in November 2003. Shaheen later formed the Temple Theatre Foundation and turned theatre operations over to the foundation to serve the community.

Today, the Temple that has been graced by many legendary performances is again an elegant, exciting showcase that attracts many to its downtown location. Ballroom and banquet facilities in the adjoining areas are busy with meetings, banquets, and receptions. The theatre offers a variety of events including films; organ, choral, and orchestra concerts; dance and jazz performances; and meetings and weddings. The most recent improvement is a historically accurate marquee that features modern cost-efficient lighting, designed by Eric Larsen of Midland, who also designed the historic-style marquee for Bay City's State Theatre.


JAKE'S OLD CITY GRILL, SAGINAW

Jake's Old City Grill, 100 South Hamilton Street at Court Street in Old Town Saginaw, is housed in a three-story Miller Block sandstone building on part of the old Fort Saginaw site—later the site of Saginaw's oldest surviving residence, the Cushway House (1844); the 1866 Miller-Braley Bank that established the current building; First National Bank; Saginaw County Savings Bank; Bank of Saginaw; and Carter's women's clothing store. The building was then leased out to various small businesses. In 2001, the worn building was sold to Saginaw restaurateur and designer Paul Barrera, who envisioned restoring its Victorian character and established Jake's. The building later sold to Hall Commercial Properties in 2009.

During Barrera's early restoration efforts, he became fascinated with Saginaw's frequently mentioned colorful, legendary entrepreneur "Little Jake" Seligman—so much so that he added Jake's name to "Old City Grill." Then, in the spirit of Seligman, Barrera purchased two adjacent properties, planning to develop two restaurants, a separate banquet facility, and mixed-use office spaces with condominiums above. However the 9/11 tragedy abruptly affected bank- and private-financing abilities for several years. Nevertheless, Barrera commenced with whatever demolition, abatement, and preparation he could afford. In spring 2005, construction began. Barrera, his wife, Pamela, his son and new partner, Paul Jr., and his father, Pete—with 60 combined years of continuous business in Saginaw—all worked together to make that vision come true.

Today, Barrera's award-winning, upscale-casual restaurant, which incorporates the adjacent prior American Express Telegraph Office building, is a destination spot in revitalizing Old Town Saginaw. Inside, refurbished brick walls display the elaborately framed 135-year-old life-sized painting of Jake Seligman, plus masses of historical photos and papers that pay tribute to the history of the district and Saginaw. And Hall Properties, now developing luxury condos overhead, continues to fulfill Barrera's vision.


P.C. ANDRE BUILDING, SAGINAW

The P.C. Andre single-story commercial building, 108 North Michigan Avenue at Court Street in Old Town Saginaw, was established in the 1870s by the former Saginaw businessman and mayor Peter C. Andre (1817-1902). The building's exterior architectural details originally included decorative cornices and brackets, and the interior contained five commercial spaces. In 1953, to modernize the building for a new Rexall drugstore anchor tenant, the decorative exterior trim was stripped, and the exterior was covered with metal panels.

By 2014, as the 12-block area of Old Town Saginaw, on the National Register of Historical Places, was experiencing an increasing resurgence, Saginaw native Tom Germain, now in California, decided to restore some family-owned Saginaw buildings. Germain and his former college roommate, Alex de Parry, owner of Ann Arbor Builders, acquired ownership of the P.C. Andre Building and formed a partnership to restore it.

During renovation, the building's exterior metal siding was removed, and the cornices and brackets were restored. Removal of the siding exposed nostalgic painted murals. A narrow Hinds and Weinberg mural that advertised the 1921-1946 drugstore appeared on the Court Street face of the building, and the North Michigan side of the building revealed a large Weinberg-Pankonin Drug Store mural that was painted in 1946 when Hinds sold out to Reynold Pankonin before Rexall moved in. A decision was made to restore the murals.

Saginaw resident and artist Jim Fives, who identified the paintings as those of Saginaw artist Ike Kozak, was hired to authentically re-create the murals to be enjoyed by Saginaw residents and visitors.

Extensive interior and exterior work on the building was completed in September 2015. Five commercial tenants again lease space in the restored building. Bauer's Jewelry, which opened there in 1891, has continually leased the same space, except from 1952 to 1972.


STATE THEATRE, BAY CITY

State Theatre, 913 Washington Avenue in downtown Bay City, was built by Worthy L. Churchill in 1908, opening as the Bijou Theatre, a Victorian-style vaudeville and burlesque house. The theatre's name was changed to the Orpheum in 1920, and sound pictures began showing there in 1926.

In 1930, the Orpheum was purchased by the W.S. Butterfield theatre chain, gutted, and then redesigned in an Art Deco/Mayan Temple-style by architect C. Howard Crane, who designed the Fox Theatre in Detroit. The Mayan marquee was removed and the theatre reopened as the State Theatre in 1957. From 1984-1991, the theatre was owned by George Kerasotes Theatres of Springfield, Illinois. Local businessman Tim O'Brien owned the theatre from 1991-2000 and showed second-run and art films.

The theatre closed in 2000 due to low attendance. Bay City Downtown Development Authority purchased the theatre, began renovations to restore it to its Mayan roots, and then sold the building to the Friends of the State Theatre for $1 to continue long-effort renovations.

Renovations through 2004 included basic areas: the exterior; restrooms; stage construction; basement storage; installation of a heating, venting, and air condition system; a new concession stand; and electrical, fire detection, sound and lighting systems. Decorative work such as replica carpeting, updated seating, and Mayan headdress wall sconces were in place by summer 2006. A digital cinema projection system was added to the single-screen theatre. In September 2008, the retro Mayan headdress marquee by Eric Larsen (now Empire Architectural Design, Midland) was unveiled.

Today State Theatre, with seating for 549, is one of the premier performing arts centers in Michigan. Events hosted there include comedy, music, educational programming, recitals, film, performances by nationally known celebrities, wine tastings, and more. Facility rentals are available.


WHICHCRAFT TAPROOM, MIDLAND

The 1880s building at 124 Ashman Street in downtown Midland began as a livery stable when Ashman Street likely was a trail-type street near Main Street. The tall one-story building with a two-story façade has been expanded at least twice.

The building was the first location (1933-1977) of Midland's longtime Glover's Pharmacy, and it later housed Mashue Printing that operated there for 25 years until 2011.

In 2012, the building was leased to Richard and Sharon Caldwell of Midland by Larry and Mary Jo Lang of Lang Enterprises, LLC. The Caldwells then sought building permits and a special Redevelopment Liquor License to repurpose the building for WhichCraft Taproom, planning to encourage Michigan's growing craft-beer market and support other local and Michigan businesses. The couple declared their business motto: "Drink Local. Drink Well."

Renovations to create an inviting taproom atmosphere included the Langs' removal of multi-layered walls and ceilings, sandblasting, and floor refinishing. Interior work by the Caldwells included building the cooler, bathrooms, kitchen, managing all electrical/plumbing, and substantial work to the subfloor and basement. Richard Caldwell created repurposed furnishings—the bar itself from a disassembled basement wall, the bar top and smaller tables from an old bowling alley lane, and the large community tables from a fallen, salvaged old-growth pine tree from the Upper Peninsula.

Visitors to WhichCraft now enjoy a celebration of Michigan products and talents in a historic and artisan atmosphere. Small-plate and weekly dinner specials served feature Michigan-made foods whenever possible. All beer, wine, cider, and mead served are produced in Michigan to encourage growth and development of the industries. And special events at WhichCraft feature local and statewide artists, musicians, and businesses.


BORDEN BUILDING, MOUNT PLEASANT

The 1908 Michigan Condensed Milk Factory (Borden Creamery), 320 West Broadway Street in downtown Mount Pleasant, was designed by architect William D. Kyser, superintendent of the Borden Creamery, Fairport, NY. The contractor was D.C. Babcock, who built the Fairport facility. The expansive red brick, rectangular-shaped, partial one- and two-story commercial Italianate-style building with 223 windows has a gable-style roof with eight cupolas.

Early local attorney Samuel Whaley Hopkins (1845-1923) is credited for bringing the Borden business to primarily agricultural Mount Pleasant and its surrounds, when the condensed milk industry was growing rapidly. The factory, broadly supported by area residents, enabled the growth of agriculture and the processing and preserving of milk from hundreds of dairy farmers in a 10-mile radius.

After the factory closed in 1960, there were over a dozen unsuccessful attempts to redevelop the property from 1965 to 2002. Ownership changed many times, and the building sat vacant for most of 40 years. In the midst of this, in April 1983, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Finally, in fall 2002, when Mount Pleasant solicited proposals from developers, The J.E. Johnson Development Group of Midland presented a successful plan to purchase and rehabilitate the structure while maintaining its historic appeal. The Mount Pleasant community united to support the restoration of the Borden Building, to sell the former city hall building, and to increase personal taxes by 0.6 mills to allow the city to purchase a condominium in the Borden Building.

Clean-up and construction began in August 2007, and the grand opening was held in December 2008. Today, the award-winning restored building in the city's first historic district houses modern city offices and the regional state court administrator's office. A portion of the building is available for lease.


PERE MARQUETTE DEPOT, BAY CITY

Pere Marquette Depot, 1000 Adams Street, in downtown Bay City, was established by the Pere Railroad Company (est. 1863) in 1904, when the company was building several new passenger and freight depots. The two-story, red brick Arts and Craft-style building was designed by Saginaw architect William T. Cooper and constructed by local contractors Matthew Lamont and J.H. Tennant.

In 1937, all Pere Marquette properties in Bay City were acquired by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company. Pere Marquette and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad companies formally merged in 1947. By then, increased road transportation post-World War II was causing declines in rail travel. In 1951, the depot was closed, boarded up, and incurred some damage by an accidental fire. The Greyhound Bus Company then occupied the renovated and modernized building from 1953-1969. After closing, the building was vandalized, damaged, and remained unused for 38 years.

In 1982, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Several proposals to reuse the depot did not materialize, but Bay City citizens resisted eventual proposals to demolish it. Finally, in 2003, the Great Lakes Center Foundation purchased the depot, planning to restore it to house local non-profit tenants.

Building restoration began in 2007, and strict guidelines were followed to ensure preservation of the building's historic character. The former tower, canopy, and porte cochère were re-created, and door and window openings were restored, along with the two-story waiting room with a re-created ticket office. The remaining interior was designed to provide modern office and support space, an elevator, and barrier-free restrooms. Tenants moved into the space in 2008.

Bay Area Community Foundation and Great Lakes Bay College and Resource Center offices now reside there, and the Waiting Room, with seating for 150 and a large catering kitchen, is available for event rentals.




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