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Posts Tagged ‘Plymouth history’

Only one wall of the famed Daisy Manufacturing Company’s Plymouth factory stands.  In truth, it is merely a facade of one wall of what used to be a manufacturing facility that cranked out millions of “air rifles” aka BB guns from the early to mid 20th century.

I’m linking some articles here (one written by me) that lay out what’s going on.  The long and short  of it is that the Developer of what is now Daisy Square was supposed to preserve at least one wall (and that was after the original agreement was renegotiated) and incorporate it into a new structure.  That never happened and the project is 7 years old at this point.  The fate of what is left of the Daisy factory could be decided at next month’s Planning Commission meeting.

http://plymouth-mi.patch.com/articles/public-hearing-on-fate-of-daisy-wall-set-for-november

http://plymouth-mi.patch.com/articles/historic-wall-or-eyesore

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Yesterday I checked three excellent books on Plymouth history from the library (more about the books later.)  In just thumbing through them I was surprised at how many historical buildings in Plymouth have burned to the ground over the years.

We all know that homes and buildings in the past weren’t built or maintained with the kind of fire prevention features we have today.  People also used to have to use candles for light and wood fires for heat.  We are also blessed with better trained professional firefighters that use effective equipment.  I’m not surprised that relatively fewer homes and building burn these days.  I’m just surprised at how many fantastic old buildings are no longer in town because of fires.  It seems that fires have claimed as many buildings as the wrecking ball.

Here’s just one example of many that I ran across, the Penniman-Allen Theater, which used to be on Penniman (surprise!)  It was a destroyed by fire in 1968.  I wasn’t around the see it but it must have been a beautiful building.

penniman-avepenniman-allen-theater-interior

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I’m no historian but I was recently asked to identify the location of a business that was once known as the Bonafide Garage, which was at one point (early 1900s) owned by a W. J. Beyer.  (The question was raised in the “About” section of my blog, if you wish to look.)  Here is a photo of the garage which dates between 1915 and 1925.

bonafide-garage

The location I was given for this building was on Main Street, across from the Markham Building.  The Markham Building, as many in Plymouth will know, is still standing so there is an easy and existing reference point.

Markham Building on left, Beyer's Garage on middle-right

Markham Building on left, Beyer's Garage on middle-right

The second photo is from Elizabeth Kelly Kerstens’ book, Plymouth in Vintage Postcards, page 68.  It is a view of Main Street looking southwest from a point northeast of the railroad tracks.  This confirms the placement of the garage relative to the Markham factory.

The only building that I was aware of right across the street from the Markham Building is the current home of Plymouth Furniture Refinishing, which as at 331 Main Street.  I called Plymouth Furniture Refinishing today and the helpful gentleman told me that the building, indeed, had been a garage and later an automobile dealership.  I understand Lou LaRiche had a dealership there (or one building over) at one point.  I was told there is still a ramp in the building which was used to drive vehicles to the upper level.

I think that solves that mystery.  Here’s what she looks like today, courtesy of Plymouth Furniture Refinishing’s website.

plymouth-furniture-refinishing

I want to publicly thank the good folks at Plymouth Furniture Refinishing for taking the time to answer my questions.

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I’ve written about this issue several times in the past, so no need to rehash the background.

By way of update, I received an email today regarding a fundraiser to save the Veterans Memorial Park wall, the original stone and mortar wall erected shortly after World War I.  If you are interested in this issue, please check out this event and give if you can.

Hi all — I heard from my friend Wendy this week. The bad news is that they did not get the grant they applied for. The good news is that thus far they have collected $2,600 in donations. Just enough to perform the basic repairs to the wall! Which is great, but they are really trying to reach their goal of $5,600 by the end of the month. They are holding a fundraiser — “Tea and Scones to Save the Stones.”

Saturday, April 18, 2009
1pm – 3pm
Plymouth District Library

Enjoy tea and sweet treats provided by:
Sweet Afton Tea Room • Panera Bread Co. • Tranquilitea
While you discover lovely & unique creative
theme tables designed by:
• Basket Kreations • Bohemian Home • Haven
• Home Sweet Home • Maggie and Me
• Magnolia • Sideways • The Velvet Plum

Tickets are $15 each and can be purchased at the above retail shops. Tickets must be purchased before April 18th.
No tickets will be sold the day of the event.
Brought to you by:
http://www.plymouthpreserv ation.org

Please pass along to anyone you think might be interested. Thanks so much!!

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Youtube has a little bit of everything.  Everything!  Knowing that, I figured I would go there and search “plymouth mi” just to see what might pop up.  The first search result was a little “tour” (stretch to call it that) of Old Village by a local realtor, Russ Ravary.  He tell some very interesting historical facts about Plymouth.  Check it out.

This is not a professional grade documentary or anything of the sort.  It’s just this gentleman and his camcorder.

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daisyadIf you’ve seen the movie, A Christmas Story, you’ll know that line.  If you’ve been around Plymouth very long, you’ll also know that air rifle used to be made right here in town.

Michigan History Online has a great brief history of Daisy (and the air rifle industry more generally)

http://www.michiganhistorymag.com/extra/2008/marapr/its_a_daisy.html

Red Ryder was a character created by the company, during the Depression, to market Daisy Air Rifles to kids:

The 1930s also saw the introduction of a cowboy theme with Daisy guns honoring teenaged rodeo and movie cowboy Buzz Barton and movie cowboy Buck Jones. However, Cass Hough was always concerned about a celebrity endorser becoming entangled in a scandal and hurting Daisy’s image. He found a solution in the form of an imaginary cowboy, a comic strip hero whose name and association with Daisy have become legendary. Late in the 1930s, Daisy met Red Ryder. Actually, it was Fred Harman, author-artist for the Red Ryder comic series who came from Colorado to Plymouth to sell Daisy on a pistol concept he had whittled from wood. Harman and Cass Hough hit it off and before long they joined with Red Ryder owner Stephen Slesinger in joint promotional efforts. Daisy’s Red Ryder phase, including the No. 111 Model 40 Red Ryder Western Carbine, was among the most profitable eras of the company. The Daisy Red Ryder air gun was immortalized in the 1983 classic movie A Christmas Story, featuring Ralphie’s quest to get a Red Ryder air gun despite everyone’s warning that “You’ll shoot your eye out.”

The whole story of this industry and its origins in town is fascinating.  Check out the entire article.

Merry Christmas.

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I’m headed on vacation for a few days and did not have much inspiration to post something new or original before leaving.  But I did stumble across a few cool webpages about Plymouth and her history.

“Catherine’s Hometown: Plymouth, Michigan” has a few nice blurbs about the city and its history.  “It’s A Daisy!” an article on Michigan History Online is a fascinating piece about the air rifle business right here in Plymouth.

If you have some time, check them out.

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