Thursday, July 19, 2012

Downtown Saginaw

Wednesday my sister-in-law Mary Jo had a scheduled procedure at a hospital in downtown Saginaw.  While she was recovering after that procedure John and I, as well as Wayne my brother, decided to tour the downtown area.  It was quite a trip down memory lane for Wayne who had worked at a bank in Saginaw for 30 years in Saginaw.  Wednesday was his natal day, so it seemed a great way for him to spend his birthday and he was eager to show the town to us.  Saginaw has changed much over the past 100 years, and even in the past 15 years or so since Wayne retired.  The town, as Flint, was once a busy lumber center.  Once the pine forests were depleted Saginaw moved into an economy dependent on agricultural crops as beans and sugar beets.  My mother grew up in such an agricultural community.  When she became a young adult she worked in Saginaw at the Lufkin Rule Company (now gone as well as the bank where my brother worked).   So it was also a fascinating tour of the downtown area for me as it brought back recollections of my mom's stories of her life in Saginaw.  A lot of the downtown buildings of the past are now gone.  However, Saginaw has held unto two of her gems.  One such building is the Hoyt Library.  A business man who had lumber and real estate interests in the Saginaw Valley, Jesse Hoyt, funded the building which was erected in 1890 in the Romanesque style. It had additions built onto it in 1921 and 1960 and still serves as a library today.  We went into the library and I felt like I was back at our downtown library in St.Louis, which also is an older building with a similar interior.
The other awesome building in downtown Saginaw is the post office.  It was opened on July 4, 1898 and built in the style of a French chateau.  Its architect, William Aiken, gave it four corner towers which he said represented "defensive features of frontier life".  In 1930 the city decided that it needed a larger structure and considered tearing the building down.  Fortunately they kept the building and instead added an addition which was compatible with the original structure.  In 1976 it was converted into a museum.
The museum, called the Castle Building, has a a beautiful marble interior and sports a spiral staircase.  It has many wonderful displays and artifacts relating to the Native American presence in the area, as well as Saginaw's archeological past. There is also a lot relevant to Saginaw County's evolution from a trading and lumber center to a farming and manufacturing community.  From the post office we continued walking around in the downtown area.  Currently the downtown area mainly has state and federal buildings. Some small shops are still around- like Morgan's shop repair shop.  We stopped there because John had a shoe in need of repair.  The owner said he has worked in the downtown area in the shoe repair business for 40 years.  Vacant lots stand where the older buildings have been.  In one such lot we found a community garden.  The corn and tomatoes appear to be growing well despite the hot and dry weather we have been experiencing.
You may notice a painted mural which is in the left foreground of the picture.  It is an advertisement for the Savoy, a bar and grill  which is one of the older business establishments of Saginaw.

No comments:

Post a Comment