I came across this picture of The Halls of Montezuma a few years ago but I did not understand its significance to Saginaw. I have always wondered about it and then I came across the name of Curtis Emerson in a book.
Emerson was born in Norwich, Vermont, on Feb. 4, 1810, and moved to Detroit when he was 26 years old and started a Malt Liquor business, possibly Michigan’s first craft brewery. After ten years in Detroit, he had gained some wealth and moved to Saginaw to try his hand in the booming lumber industry. He purchased Harvey Williams sawmill where City Hall now stands and after updating the machinery it was very profitable for Emerson.
He built a house on Washington Ave and was one of the first settlers on the east side of the river. His house became known as the Halls of Montezuma. I am not sure how it got the moniker but Emerson was known for throwing parties and welcoming visitors to the area. His faithful dog Ceasar was also well liked by the people who visited his home. Emerson’s was well liked but also had some demons, he was known to have a short temper and not afraid to brawl with anyone who opposed him.
In 1851 Michigan organized Buena Vista Township and the first election held in the township was in Emerson’s house. Emerson died on Feb. 11, 1880. Although I am still not exactly sure why his house was called the Halls of Montezuma it was interesting in learning about the strange picture I found. The house is long gone and Saginaw City Hall now stands where the famous house and it’s flamboyant resident once lived.
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