Fences are going up around North Middle school at 1101 N. Bond and it won’t be long until the equipment comes in and starts chipping away at it. I stopped and got a few last photos of it on this cold but sunny day. I can only imagine how many kids from Saginaw went to school here since it was built in the 1920s. It’s sad to see it go, but at least the property will be used by Covenant, they recently purchased the building from the Saginaw School District. I am not sure what their plans are to develop the land after the school is gone.
March 15th will be the 20 year anniversary since Proposal A was adopted in Michigan. We adjusted the property tax and went from 4% to 6% sales tax, and allowed the state to take control of school funding. Instead of schools being funded primarily by local property tax, it is funded by the state and the funding is based on student population. This was supposed to equal out the gap from wealthy districts to poor districts, and provide an equal education to all. It was also promoted as elevating the quality of education by rewarding the schools that do better. Instead it just seems to punish the school that are doing poorly and those schools always seem to be the low income districts.
Since schools are funded biased on the number of students, I wonder if school boards make their decisions on what provides better education, or what will bring in more students to the district. I wonder how many schools have added a marketing department to their school budget? Instead of school districts working with each other, they are working on “stealing” kids from other districts to increase their budgets. Rivalries should be on the sports field and not about educating our kids.
It’s time that our state leaders start leading, and review proposal A and figure out what worked and what didn’t, and come up with a new proposal. Maybe change school funding so it is based half on student population and half on district population. I am not an expert and don’t have all the answers, but I know what we are doing now is not working. I think it’s time the state starts working on Proposal B.
I have been asked a few times about the smokestack along the river walk, and since I didn’t know the history of it I did some research. It was part of the Mitts & Merrill factory. It was originally started as a foundry by George W. Merrill in 1854 and it built steam engines, mill machinery and stoves. In 1876 the company introduced the key seating machine, which cuts keyways into machine components, and the name changed to Mitts & Merrill. In 1992, Mitts & Merrill was acquired by Maschinenfabrik FRÖMAG and relocated from Saginaw to Harvard, IL.
Eventually the buildings of the Mitts and Merrill factory were razed to build Michigan Cardiovascular Institute but the smoke stack was left standing. Since so much of Saginaw’s manufacturing factories and history are gone, I am thankful this smokestack still stands as a monument to our past.
Subscribe to Pure Saginaw
The train bridge over the Saginaw River with a fresh blanket of snow, I took this pic from Niagra Street, that is St Mary’s in the Background.
Ayres Gasoline Engine and Automobile Works 1900-1902
the first attempt at starting an automobile company in Saginaw was the Ayres Gasoline and Engine works founded by William F. Ayres. It was located on the corner of Bristol and North Hamilton. There are no known photos or advertisements of the car.
Rainer Motor Car Co. 1907-1909
John T. Rainer started the Rainer Motor Car Co. in flushing New York but was persuaded by Saginaw businessman E. A. Robertson and lumberman Arthur Eddy to move to Saginaw in 1907. The gave him the old Mershon-Schutte-Parker lumber mill on 6th and Washington and $100,000. The Rainer cars were expensive for the time and its luxury model the Landaulet sold for $5800 and the company closed in 1909.
After Rainer folded, an investor with the company went to flint and talked William Durant, who was forming General Motors, into purchasing the plant and building cars under the name Marquette until 1912.
The Marquette merged with the Welch Motor Car Company in Pontiac and built the newly named Peninsular car at both locations. After building a few cars in 1913 General Motors reorganized and stopped production and used the plant to produce mortar shells for World War I.
Saginaw Cycle Car 1912-1914
A 1914 Saginaw Cycle Car sold for $395 in its day, a two-seater manufactured by the Valley Boat Engine Co. in Saginaw at 503 waters street. Stated in the 1914 edition of Motor Age Vol. 25 “one feature that is made by the way the axle hangs, is that after rounding a corner the driver can remove his hand from the wheel and the front wheels will straighten up”
The Railsbach was an automobile built in Saginaw, Michigan by L.M. Railsbach in 1914. The company classed the vehicle as a light car, but with its wheel track of 3 ft, it would make it a cycle car. The two-seater sold for $350. It had a water-cooled 4-cylinder, 1.2L engine
Duryea & electra 1914
Charles Duryea, one of the Duryea brothers who is credited with creating the first horseless carriage in 1893, moved to Saginaw and built the “Duryea” and “Electra” at the site of the Valley Lumber Co. Mill on Hoyt and Water street. The public never developed an interest in the high wheeled buggy type car and the plant soon closed.
Argo Electric Vehicle Co.1910-1916
The Argo Electric Vehicle Company operated in Saginaw, in the old Sommer Bros. Match Co building on the corner of South Jefferson and Atwater, from 1912 to 1916. They were offered in both four- and five-passenger models, with open and closed versions available. The 110-inch wheelbase was the longest of any electric at the time. The Argo Brougham was a 4 passenger car, weighing 3,200 lb, claimed a range of 75 miles per charge.
Saginaw Speedster 1914
The Detroit Cycle Car relocated to Saginaw, Michigan, and this car was also known as the Saginaw Speedster for a short time. The Detroit Cycle Car was a cycle car manufactured in Detroit, Michigan by the Detroit Cycle Car Company from 1913-14. The cycle car was heavier than most cycle cars at 850 lb (390 kg). It was offered with a four-cylinder water-cooled engine of 1.5l, costing $375.
Lehr Motor Company 1916
The Lehr Motor Company produced a car called the “Saginaw” but the company closed shortly after opening. It was also believed they produced a failed pick-up named the “Saginaw” also but very little information exists about it.
Saginaw Motor Company “Yale” 1916-1918
The next auto manufacturer to operate out of the old Argo plant on Jefferson with the financial support of several lumber barons, was the Saginaw Motor Company by Louis J. Lampke. The plant was to call the automobile the Saginaw, but the Lehr Motor Company across town had already beaten them to the name. The Saginaw Motor people thus got together and settled on the Yale name, the car never gained popularity and was forced to close in 1918 because of financial troubles.
Borland Gannis 1917
Borland-Grannis Purchased Argo Electric to produce Electric powered cars since the popularity of gas surpassed electric power, the company closed in 1917
Nelson Bros. Jumbo Truck 1918-1932
The Nelson Brothers Co. moved from Alma to Saginaw in 1911 and built gas engines in several sizes. One of their most popular engines was called “ The Little Jumbo” and the engine factory was on Owen and Morse. In 1918 they must have decided to build trucks that used their engines. The trucks were built in the old Argo factory on South Jefferson and were known as “Jumbo Trucks” they were special order trucks built more as a sideline business.
Ruggles Truck 1921-1929
In 1921 Frank Ruggles moved from Alma to Saginaw and started a truck factory on the site of the old Saginaw Ship Building Company in Carrollton. The Old Plantation Bar was Ruggle’s office. They built truck ranging from 1-1/2 tons to 3 tons and buses up to 25 passengers and sold trucks to every major city in the U.S. and 35 countries. Sadly the demise of the company was due to a hurricane in Florida. In 1928 they shipped 200 trucks to Coral Gables Fl. And the hurricane destroyed their inventory before they were paid and they were not insured and the company lost 1.5 million dollars. Soon after, the Great Depression forced the company to close in 1929.
Since 2006, Paul Chaffee and his friend, the late Bob Maul have provided funds for the illumination of 13 architecturally prominent Saginaw buildings to call attention to what they believed were neglected artifacts of Saginaw’s lush architectural legacy. The latest building to be illuminated is the Hoyt Library in downtown Saginaw during a lighting ceremony on February 13th
The Hoyt Public Library of Saginaw was a gift to the city of Saginaw by Jesse Hoyt of New York, he was never a permanent resident but had several business ventures in Saginaw. His last visit to Saginaw was in 1877; after that ill health prevented his return. With the advice and counsel of his Saginaw attorney, William L. Webber, he drafted a will with bequests to the city of East Saginaw the sum of $100,000 for the establishment of a library on a site owned by Mr. Hoyt. He purposely limited the amount so that the citizens would have to contribute to the support of the library, if they really wanted it to flourish.
After a national competition among leading architects, the Hoyt Trust chose the Boston architectural firm of Van Brunt and Howe. When the Richardsonain Romanesque style building was completed it exemplified modern library construction. The present building includes a 1921 addition by Edward Tilton of New York and a 1960 addition by Frederick E. Wigen Architects of Saginaw.
I went to the Shiawassee Wildlife Refuge of Center road and there were some cross country ski tracks in the snow. It got me thinking about the winter Olympics and how nice it is to live somewhere we can ski and skate. Maybe in a few years there will be an athlete from Saginaw in the Olympics. I am sure it won’t be me, skiing and skating is a lot of work. I guess that is why I like curling, it looks like a sport I could do, and I bet when the other athletes are in the gym pushing there bodies to the limits, the curling team is in the bar eating wings and drinking beer talking about sweeping strategy.