History of the 4444 Second Ave Building
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History of the Area
The Green Garage is located at 4444 Second, which is considered part of the Warren-Prentis Historic District of Detroit. This district is part of a greater area known as Cass Farms which refers to a large parcel of land once owned by Lewis Cass, former governor of the State of Michigan. His property comprised 500 acres and was bounded by present day Cass Avenue and 3rd Street, and stretched from the Detroit River to 3 miles inland (approximately up to Grand Boulevard). Going back to the early days of French dominion, the land that would one day be known as Cass Farms was at that time divided into 3 separate parcels and was deeded by the French king as follows:
- Jacques Godet, April 1750
- Jean Baptiste des Butes dit St. Martin, in two deeds, April 1750 and March 1759
- Francois Barrios, April 1752
At some time before the American Revolution, the parcels came under the ownership of Charles Courtois, Francois Berthelet and Charles Beaubien.
In 1783, all three parcels were purchased by the merchant firm of Macomb-Edgar-Macomb (William and Alexander Macomb, and William Edgar). At some point all of the property became the estate of William Macomb and was then passed to his three sons, David, William and John. It was from the Macomb family that Lewis Cass purchased the entirety of the property in 1816 for the sum of $12,000.
From 1830 to 1836, the population of Detroit grew so rapidly (from 2,222 in 1830 to 6,927 in 1836), that the front portion of Cass Farms from Larned Street to the River was needed for wharves, warehouses and hotels to facilitate trade. So in 1835, the Cass Farms Company was formed and purchased the front section from Lewis Cass for $100,000.
As Detroit became a leading manufacturing center in the last 2 decades of the nineteenth century, and the population doubled in size, many professionals and managers were looking for housing that would reflect their increased status. This area was considered a prime location as it was close enough for those who still had to commute by horse and carriage. Leading architects were hired to develop these substantial homes. By the 1920's, this area, particularly along Cass Corridor, was home to many of the first automobile dealerships, and this was the first use of the structure that now houses the Green Garage.
The area began to decline during the Great Depression, when most families found that they could not maintain such vast residences. Many of these homes were rented to multiple families, who often did not keep them up. During the 1950's and 1960's when the population of the area decreased sharply, the area went into further decline, and in the 1970's and 1980's, the Cass Corridor was known as an area of numerous illegal activities.
The area has seen a resurgence since the 1990's with increased student populations, Cultural Center and medical center activity. The Warren-Prentis district contains 108 historic structures, and is notable because the majority of the pre-1930's building stock remains.
History of the Green Garage site and building
The building was constructed in 1920, during a boom time in Detroit. We examined a number of volumes of Polk's Detroit City Directory (if you'd like to see a sample of one of these directories, Google has digitized an 1855 Detroit directory). We found out that the building has had many owners -- here's what we've learned so far:
Detroit City Directories from 1881-1919
During the period from 1881 to 1919, the property presently occupied by the Green Garage contained three houses with the addresses of 800, 804 and 808 Second Avenue. We were able to find the names of the families who lived in these homes using Polk's Detroit City Directories from the Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library. Additional information about these families was found through searches of Ancestry.com, Google Book Search and the Detroit Public Library's online digital collection of photographs, Early Detroit Images. Interestingly, several of the residents of these properties were successful businessmen who had each attained a level of prominence in the city of Detroit. Here are the names of the people who lived in these homes:
800 Second Avenue:
- 1881 - Vacant
- The Mulliken Family - 1882-1896
Living at this address beginning in 1882 were John B. Mulliken, his wife, Emma A. (Batcheldor), and sons Harry B. and George F. John Mulliken was born in New York in 1837 and his wife was born in Vermont, also in 1837. While living at 800 Second Ave., he was the General Manager of the Detroit, Lansing & Northern Railroad, the Chicago & West Michigan Railway, and the Citizens' Street Railway Company. The office of the Detroit, Lansing & Northern Railroad was located at 28 Newberry Building. In 1891, John B. is listed as a commissioner at the Board of Public Works. He was also a Civil War veteran, having served with the Fourth Cavalry from Hillsdale County, Michigan. John B. died on Nov. 23, 1892 at the age of 55. Emma Mulliken remained in the house with son, Harry, a student, until sometime between 1895 and 1896 when she moved to a new address at 91 Farnsworth.
Their son, George F. Mulliken, born in Belvedere, Illinois in 1867, attended the Michigan Military Academy from 1886 to 1888, after which time he enrolled at the University of Michigan, graduating in 1892 with a Bachelor of Arts. He then went to work for Cooper, Wells & Company of St. Joseph (Berrien County), Michigan where he was a major stockholder and Treasurer of the company. Cooper, Wells was a manufacturer of women's and girls' hosiery and one of the largest business concerns in Berrien County.
- The Ross Family - 1897-1912
Susanna T. (Anna) Ross, widow of Edward H. Ross, with son, John L., moved into 800 Second Ave. around 1897. US Census records indicate that Susanna was born in Ireland in 1838 and immigrated to the US in 1848. John L. Ross owned the Ross & Young Machine Co, manufacturer of automotive parts and engines. In 1915, Ross & Young, which had become the Ross Automobile Company, debuted the "Ross Eight" automobile, priced at $1,350, at an automotive exhibit held in Chicago. The 8-cylinder engine was attracting a lot of attention at this exhibit. Other automotive manufacturers exhibiting 8-cylinder vehicles that year were Cadillac, Cole, Abbott, Remington, King, Briggs-Detroiter and Regal. From 1904-1905, also listed at this address is the Eugene Chemical Company.
- The Doyle Family - 1913-1916
The John D. Doyle family moved into 800 Second Ave. in 1913. Family includes wife, Suzanna (Susie), son, Thomas Allen, and boarder, Florence R. Cook. Thomas worked as a chauffeur for the People's State Bank. Florence Cook was a dressmaker. According to US Census records, the Doyle family was originally from New York.
- Samuel Jacobs - 1917-1918
Worked as a machinist.
- Fred Reissman - 1919
Worked as a foreman at the Michigan Shade Cleaning Co.
804 Second Avenue:
- Colin Fox 1890-1891
During these years, Colin Fox was employed as an accountant for the United News Association. Prior to this time, he worked for the Western Union Telegraph Company.
- 1892 - Vacant
- Jacob Cotner, Jr. 1893-1897
Jacob Cotner, Jr. was the Secretary and Treasurer of the Collector Publishing Company (later to become Sprague Publishing Company) located in the Telephone Building on Clifford Street. Born in Mansfield, Ohio in 1860, he spent his youth in that state and, as a young man, worked primarily as a salesman for a variety of business interests. He moved to Detroit around 1889 and, while working for the Collector Publishing Company, was instrumental in the development of "The American Boy" magazine (first published in 1899), a highly successful and popular publication in the early part of the 20th century, becoming its business manager. He married Etta Marie Trowbridge of a prominent family from Toledo and they had three children. His wife passed away in 1899 and in 1901 he was married to Celia L. Burke of Ann Arbor. Upon his death in 1921 at the age of 60, The Detroit Free Press said of him, "Mr Cotner did a practical work for the youth of this country that can scarcely be estimated. He was one of those who went to the root of the matter in an endeavor to help build up the citizenship of the country". In addition to his work in the publishing industry, Mr. Cotner was on the board of trustees of the First Congregational Church of Detroit, served for 8 years as a director of the Detroit YMCA, was president of the Ohio Society of Detroit and was a member of the Detroit Golf Club.
- William T. Radcliffe 1898-1902
William Radcliffe was a clerk for D.M. Ferry & Company, a seed company that was one of the first ever to package seeds for sale in stores. The company was founded by Dexter Mason Ferry of New York who came to Detroit in 1852. By 1902, D.M. Ferry had purchased land in Avon Township off of Hamlin Road in order to more easily expand operations. The "descendant" of this company, The Ferry-Morse Seed Company is today located in Fulton, Kentucky.
- Joseph Campau 1903-1905
Clerk - receiver of taxes
- 1906 - Vacant
- Robert J. Waddell 1907-1910
Robert Waddell was vice president and co-founder of the Independent Stove Company, established in 1905 by three former employees of the Michigan Stove Company. By 1908, the operations had moved to Owosso, Michigan where a new building was constructed to house offices and a foundry. Their product line expanded to include a variety of stoves, ranges, furnaces and oak heaters. In 1933, the name of the company was changed to the Renown Stove Company. They were in business for 45 years, finally closing their doors in 1950 having produced approximately 300,000 stoves and heaters in all.
- Ray S. Ayer 1911-1914
Foreman, Superintendent (where?)
- Van Ness Delamater 1915
Van Ness Delamater was born in July, 1878 in Hudson, New York and was a graduate of Cornell University, class of 1900. He began work in 1915 for the Hyatt Roller Bearing Company, part of the railroad division of General Motors (this perhaps explains his one year stay in Detroit). He was married in 1904 to a fellow Cornell graduate, Jacqueline Montague Newton, and together they had five children. Sadly, he and his eldest son, Van Ness Delamater, Jr. (also a Cornell graduate) died in 1931 on a vacation trip to Algonquin Park, Ontario, when their boat was capsized during a strong storm and they both drowned.
- William S. Walker 1916-1918
Claim Auditor, National Casualty Co.
808 Second Avenue:
- Eralsey Ferguson 1890-1892
Living at 808 Second Avenue starting as early as 1885 (according to Dau's Detroit Blue Book) Eralsey Ferguson, his wife and two children, John G. and Joie E. Ferguson. Mr. Ferguson operated E. Ferguson & Company, cartage agents and freight handlers. The Detroit City Directory of 1864 shows that he was working as a depot master for the Michigan Central Railroad and resided at 164 Griswold Street. From 1880-1885, Ferguson was the landlord of the Cass House Hotel, once located on the SE corner of Third and River. He was a member of the First Congregational Church of Detroit and died in 1892.
- The Woolfenden Family 1893-1902
The Woolfenden family moved to this address shortly after the death of Frederick Woolfenden, a prominent Detroit banker and co-founder of the Dime Savings Bank. Living here beginning in 1893 was his widow, Ella Raymond Woolfenden and their four sons, George Raymond, Edward Percy, Frederick and Francis Raymond. Frederick Woolfenden was an Englishman born in Belfast, Ireland in 1847 and was educated in Manchester, England. He arrived in Detroit in 1863 and immediately began work clerking in various banks, among them the Merchants and Manufacturers National Bank. Later he began working at the post office and was soon promoted to Assistant Postmaster, a position which he held for ten years. Leaving the post office, he co-founded the Dime Savings Bank of which he was Cashier and Manager. In addition to his business interests, Frederick Woolfenden was an ordained Episcopal minister and sat on the board of the Detroit College of Medicine.
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Standart Brothers Wholesale Hardware
- Harrison E. Welton and son, Harrison S. 1903-1905
- Charles I. Smith 1906-1907
Cashier, Travelers Insurance Co of Hartford, CT
- Mabel Isbister and son James 1907-1909
James worked as a clerk for Freeman Delamater & Co., and in 1909, as a city agent.
- Arthur A. Henderson 1910-1911
Secretary and Treasurer at Peninsular Brass Works
- Nellie Wellwood, widow of Mark 1910-1912
- John Dobson, machinist 1911-1912
- Charles White, warehouseman 1911-1912
- Annie McDonald, widow of Angus 1912
- Frederick Leinninger, inspector 1913-1918
By 1919, his widow, Barbara is living at this house with their children, Samuel, a machinist, and daughter, Wilma.
- William H. Lang, reamer and machinist 1913-1914
- John W. Gephart, machinist 1913
- Leo Alger, machinist 1913
- Raymond Kruger, electrician 1914
- Emile T. Monnick, motorman 1914
- Frank J. Hansen, chauffeur 1915
- Frederick W. Borst, painter 1916
- Adrian Vyant 1917-1918
- Doris Robinson, clerk 1919
- Charles B. Ganderton, pattern maker 1913-1918
4444 Second Ave, 1921 - 1965
The present building at 4444 Second Avenue was built on the site of the three homes mentioned above in 1920. Below is information gathered from the Polk City Directories showing the businesses that occupied this address from 1921 to present.
- 4442-50 Second Blvd.....DeFord Motor Truck Co
- Jas M DeFord (pres)
- E Foster Moreton (vice pres)
- Jas L Weir (sec-tres)
- 4445 Second Blvd.....Schad, Phillip G. and Hoffenbacher, Fannie
- 4442-50 Second Blvd.....Ames-built Sales Corp (bodies for Model T cars)
- Chas E Walker (pres)
- Geo A Hans (vice pres)
- L R Welcome (vice pres)
- H G Beebe (Jackson, MI) (vice pres)
- Chas G Nielsen (sec and tres - auto bodies)
- 4445 Second Blvd.....Schad, Phillip G.
- Wayne Automotive Supply Co
- Harrison Radiator Corp.
- Geo VanAlstyne (br manager)
- Harrison Oldsmobile Co
- David P Harr (pres)
- Mrs. Eliza C Harr (vice pres)
- Frank P Kottenstette (sec-tres autos)
- Hartman Motor Sales
- Earl T. Hartman
- Abraham Farris
- ABC Garage
- Morris Cameron
- McCray Refrigerator Co. and Dealers Auto Radio
- Samuel Kanners brought his shoe supply business to the building, establishing S. Kanners and Co.
- Bob Zukowski begins work at S. Kanners and Co.
- Frank Lucente starts work at Kanners and Patrize shoveling coal after school
- Victor Kanners and Samuel Patrize brought their shoe businesses together into the building. Becomes Kanners and Patrize.
- Kanners and Patrize Co.
- Victor Kanners
- Samuel Patrize
4444 Second Avenue, 1966 - Present
- Detroit riots
- Annex built
- Windows bricked up in building on advice of insurance company
- In 1976, the building was co-owned by 4 people who worked there:
- Bob Patrize (Samuel Patrize's son) (President) (sales)
- Bob Zukowski (Vice President) (ran office)
- Chester Martin (Secretary) (sales)
- Frank Lucente (Treasurer) (ran warehouse)
- Bob Zukowski leaves and the business was sold to Frank Lucente's 2 sons, Frank and Douglas Lucente in 1990. The boys owned the business and the father owned the building.
- Dave Lucente sold out to Doug Lucente in 1996.
1996 or 1997
- Building is sold to John Linardos of Motor City Brewing Works.
- John Linardos sells the building to Tom and Peggy Brennan.
- Construction on Green Garage starts.
- Green Garage officially opens
Additional Material/Kanners and Patrize
- File:Stoker Poker and a Peg.pdf - Bob Zukowski's retirement speech in 1991 - great story!
- A Green History at the Green Garage - Remembrances from Bob Zukowski
- Tongue in Cheek - by Bob Zukowski
In 1945 Victor Kanners wrote of his remembrances of being a POW during WWII. The following links are his original thoughts, starting with a cover letter to his secretary, Dorothy, followed by his 2-part story. Finally, there are 2 post-war essays written by Victor, one in 1980 and one in 1987.
- File:Cover Letter to Dorothy.pdf by Victor Kanners
- File:Horseshit and Cobblestones.pdf by Victor Kanners
- File:Horseshit and Cobblestones 2.pdf by Victor Kanners
- File:1980 Letter Post-War - Victor K.pdf by Victor Kanners
- File:1987 Letter Post-War - Victor K.pdf by Victor Kanners
Additional Photos/Kanners and Patrize
- Green Garage Flickr Document Archive Account
- Historic Materials Archive Google Doc spreadsheet detailing historic documents and materials found in the building (item description, date of item, link to digital photo)
- Polk's Detroit City Directories, including 1855 Detroit directory
- Sanborn Maps
- Frank Lucente, Marilyn Beckham, Bob Zukowski
- Bill McElhone of the Birmingham Historical Museum and Park
- Wikipedia: Cass Farm Property Submission
- Detroit's street names honor early leaders - Detroit News
- State U./Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs. Mike Smith or Cathy Schmelling.
- Cass Farm Property Submission from Wikipedia, More on Cass Farms Property
- Detroit's street names honor early leaders - Detroit News More on Lewis Cass