history

articles

Accessing the local history
collections & archives

The full archives are now accessible through the Traverse Area District Library, our partners in preserving, protecting, and presenting local history. For information on access to the archives, please contact the Reference Department by either email (ask@tadl.org) or phone (231-932-8502). You can also visit the digital archives here: Local History Collection Online Database.

ADDITIONAL ARCHIVES FOR
RESEARCH ON NORTHERN MICHIGAN

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HISTORICAL TIMELINE OF GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY

We hope you find the following timeline of interest, which bears an emphasis on the city of Traverse City. Please be aware that this information has been gathered over many years, by several different people. It is, to the best of our knowledge, accurate; however, we sometimes find new information that causes us to adjust an entry. If you notice any information which you feel is inaccurate, please contact us at contact@traversehistory.org. Thank you!

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  • 1824 September 22, Perry Hannah, “father of Traverse City” is born

  • 1847 Captain Boardman purchases land

  • 1847 June 13, Horace Boardman and crew enter the later named Boardman river.

  • 1851 April 7, Grand Traverse County was organized and became a legal entity.

  • 1851 August 4, First election of Grand Traverse County officers

  • 1851 Boardman sells land to Hannah Lay Company

  • 1852 First steamer to enter Traverse City: side wheeler Michigan. First steam sawmill: Hannah Lay mill on the waterfront.

  • 1852 First planting of cherry trees on Old Mission.

  • 1853 Post office established in Traverse City

  • 1857 First road to Acme built of cobblestones, clay and gravel

  • 1858 April 11 First church organized, Methodist Episcopal

  • 1860 Steamer Alleghany began weekly service from TC to Chicago

  • 1864 First road built to the south, Northport-Newago State Road

  • 1866 North Bridge on Union Street built by Hannah & Lay for $750

  • 1867 January 12 First Congregational Church dedicated at 302 Washington

  • 1867 Schooner Harriet Ross is first ship to run aground at TC

  • 1867 October 18 First church building dedicated, Methodist-Episcopal

  • 1867 Iron foundry built by Broadfoot and Travis

  • 1867 First photographic gallery opened by C.W. Andrews.

  • 1869 Hannah, Lay built gristmill on Boardman river near S. Union Street bridge

  • 1871 Steamer City of Traverse begins regular runs to Chicago

  • 1871 Post office moves to the new Petertyl building on 152 West Front

  • 1872 November 15 first railroad, Grand Rapids & Indiana arrives in TC

  • 1873 Hulburd Bros. Closed. Hamilton-Milliken opens in the same building 226-228 E. Front

  • 1873 Campbell House built later called the Park Place Hotel

  • 1874 Michigan Bell telephone line comes to T.C. from Charlevoix.

  • 1874 July 20 Baptist Church dedicated at 244 Washington Street

  • 1876 Steamer Clara Belle opened passenger service to Northport, New Mission, Suttons Bay and Bowers Harbor

  • 1876 Ladies Library moves to the Leach Building at 202 W. Front

  • 1876 November 12 Grace Episcopal church dedicated on State Street between Cass and Union

  • 1877 First Traverse City High School built. (Replaced in 1886.)

  • 1878 April 4 “The old blockhouse” burned to the ground

  • 1878 Fire station built on corner of Union and 7th Street

  • 1878 New building for Ladies Library in at 205-207 E. Front

  • 1879 March. Susan B. Anthony delivered lecture in Traverse City

  • 1879 Steamer City of Grand Rapids starts service to Petoskey and Mackinaw

  • 1880 Park Place annex built

  • 1881 Trotting Park opened

  • 1883 Hannah & Lay big general store opens at Front and Union. A basement generator provides the first electricity in town.

  • 1884 Steinberg’s Opera house opens on Dec. 11

  • 1884 New jail on courthouse square replaces log jailhouse.

  • 1885 First National Bank opens in the Leach Building at 202 East Front

  • 1885 State Hospital built and opened in Nov.

  • 1885 First city electricity furnished by Henry D. Campbell & Sons. Many building on Front Street lighted.

  • 1886 Hannah Lay sells lumber interests.

  • 1886 Hitching posts on Front Street replaced by rings in board sidewalks

  • 1886 Traverse City High School replaced with brick building on the same site.

  • 1887 Street numbers on Front and Union streets renumbered. Front and Union intersection is established at the base point. East on Front street had Odd numbers on the north side, west of Union it had even numbers. On Union Street east and north of Front numbers the numbers were even with the reverse south of Front street.

  • 1887 Beitner mill built on Boardman Lake

  • 1887 West Front Street bridge by Hannah, Lay

  • 1888 New St. Francis church built on corner on Cass and Tenth Street.

  • 1888 New bridge built at Eighth and Boardman streets

  • 1889 Hamilton-Milliken built new brick building on south-east corner of Front and Cass

  • 1889 H.D. Campbell started generating electric power for T.C. by steam power.

  • 1889 First brick residence built at south-east corner of 7th and Elmwood for Christian Peterson

  • 1890 Civil War Soldier’s Monument erected near county jail

  • 1891 Post office moved from Cass Street to new Masonic Building

  • 1891 Construction of Opera House started

  • 1892 February 4 City Opera House opened

  • 1892 Wells-Higman Basket factory built on 8th and Wellington on 5 acres

  • 1892 Beadle building on northwest corner of Cass and Front St.

  • 1892 Oval Wood Dish Company moves to TC from Mancelona

  • 1893 Munson building at 156 E. Front and Wurzburg building at 118 E. Front are built

  • 1893 Leach building moved so it opens onto Park St.

  • 1894 F.A. Earl Jewelers moved into Munson building

  • 1895 Traverse City Incorporated

  • 1894 We-que-tong clubhouse built near mouth of the Boardman

  • 1894 Whiting hotel opened on 150-154 E. Front

  • 1894 November, Boardman River Light & Power Company opened

  • 1894 December 11, Steinberg’s Opera House opened

  • 1895 Mrs. Hannah dies

  • 1895 J.C. Morgan cold storage plant completed on the Bay at foot of Union St.

  • 1896 Old oak trees removed from corner of Front and Union

  • 1896 November 11, Big fire destroys most of the wooden building on the south side of the 200 block of E. Front

  • 1896 Fire destroys Oval Wood Dish factory, rebuilt the same year.

  • 1897 August, Ringling Brothers circus here

  • 1897 Rosenthal building finished 140 E. Front, called “Glass Block” because of wide plate glass windows

  • 1898 About this year telephone lines on Front Street are put underground By Citizens Telephone Co.

  • 1898 Dr. James Munson built brick building at 237-239 Front

  • 1898 July 19-August, Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild West Show performs

  • 1899 July 27, The Herald reports the first automobile in Traverse City

  • 1899 Tonnelier Building completed at 212-218 E. Front. Original damaged in 1896 fire.

  • 1899 Michigan Starch Company opened on the bay

  • 1899 Cutler Hotel building removed from the southwest corner of Front and Union by Perry Hannah

  • 1899 July 7, First automobile in TC driven by R. B. Cobb of Charlevoix

  • 1899 Traverse City Lumber Company sold to Ott Lumber company of Chicago

  • 1899 First golf course, 9 holes opened on land made available by Perry Hannah, west of St. Francis church

  • 1899 January, Fire on North side of Front Street ruin Steinberg Grand to Huellmantel bldg (215)

  • 1900 February, New City Directory issued

  • 1900 Emanuel Wilhelm completes 3 story building on Front and Union, later the Traverse Hotel

  • 1901 Gas is turned on for the first time Oct 16th. Initially on Front Street.

  • 1902 People Savings opened at 134 E. Front

  • 1902 First canning factory built on Hall Street Traverse City Canning Co.

  • 1902 Front St paved from Union and Cass Streets

  • 1903 June 20 Cornerstone laid for Traverse City State Bank building

  • 1903 First brick paved residential street Sixth St. between Union and Division.

  • 1903 Traverse City Iron Works built on Lake St.

  • 1904 Bridge on West Front built by Hannah, Lay

  • 1904 City Library built on Sixth St. with grant from Andrew Carnegie

  • 1904 August 16, Perry Hannah dies

  • 1904 Palace Theatre movie house opened at 128 E. Front

  • 1904 Traverse City State Bank opened on northwest corner of Front and Union

  • 1904 Petertyl Wagon Works built at 120-126 State Street

  • 1905 Straub & Amiotte building at Hall and West Front

  • 1906 New Methodist Church on 14th St. dedicated

  • 1906 Immaculate Conception Church on Division St. dedicated

  • 1906 Cigar Box Factory opened at 8th and Boardman

  • 1907 TC pastor condemns dancing “Men don’t marry the women they dance with”

  • 1908 First National Bank opened in the new building on the northeast corner of Front and Cass

  • 1909 October 17, first flight of glider in TC by Charles Augustine

  • 1910 October 27, First auto fatality.

  • 1911 Boardman Hospital opens on Cass.

  • 1911 Ford dealership established by Ford’s brother-in-law, M.D. Bryant at 132-134 W. Front

  • 1912 South Side Lumber Company on Boardman Lake at foot of Boardman Ave. destroyed by fire

  • 1913 July 8, Fire destroyed old Beitner mill

  • 1913 Boardman River planted with 56,000 rainbow trout

  • 1913 March 23 Mayfield Dam washout

  • 1914 July 16, Fire destroys Columbia Transfer barns at 305 E. Front, 10 horses died

  • 1916 First Chamber of Commerce organized

  • 1917 Boardman River dam destroyed. New one built

  • 1917 Marion Island sold to Henry Ford

  • 1917 Oval Wood Dish Company moves to Tupper Lake, New York

  • 1917 March 2, First snow machine on steel drums on a Ford Chassis driven to TC from Cadillac in 5 hours

  • 1918 City government moves offices to new McNamara building at 127 E. Front

  • 1918 October, all schools closed due to Spanish influenza epidemic

  • 1918 March 19 Tracy Lay died in Chicago

  • 1918 Rennie Oil Company opens first gas station at northwest corner of Union and State. They display one of Traverse City’s first Napoleon autos

  • 1919 J. Ogden Armour of Chicago built a $50,000 summer home, Timbers on Long Lake

  • 1919 Jack Dempsey featured with the Sells-Floto circus

  • 1920 millions of grasshoppers infest the City on migration north

  • 1920 Northern Creamery was established in new building at 719 E. Front

  • 1920 State Park established on East Bay

  • 1921 Brown bridge power dam built

  • 1921 Chamber of Commerce bought Markham building at 129 E. Front

  • 1921 First motorized bus service begins

  • 1921 O-At-Ka Beach dance pavilion opens at Edwards beach on the west shore of East Bay later moved to Four Mileroad.

  • 1921 March 14 Starch Factory on waterfront torn down.

  • 1923 Michigan Bell bought out Citizens Telephone Company

  • 1923 September 25 Home of four Negro women on the south side bombed

  • 1924 August 9 Ku Klux Klan demonstration on Front St.

  • 1924 Canning factory built at 8th and Lake by George Lardie

  • 1924 Blessing of the Blossoms

  • 1925 May 22 First Cherry Blossom Festival

  • 1926 January 25 Hannah & Lay gristmill burned and not replaced.

  • 1926 Bridge built over Boardman river at north end of Cass Street.

  • 1926 Cobblestone fountain built in center of Cass street

  • 1926 July 28, 29, 30 New Munson Hospital dedicated

  • 1926 First traffic lights installed on Front Street at Park, Cass and Union

  • 1928 Interlochen Music Camp opened

  • 1928 April Montgomery Ward Store opens in Hannah Lay Building

  • 1928 July 19 First Michigan Cherry Festival

  • 1928 April 4 Knute Rockne spoke at high school auditorium

  • 1929 Ransom Field, first airport open on Rennie Hill south of city

  • 1930 June 2, the new Park Place Hotel completed and opened for business.

  • 1930 January 14 First air passenger service from Grand Rapids lands at Ransom field on skis

  • 1931 Morgan Canning plant built

  • 1932 Cherry Festival becomes “National Cherry Festival”

  • 1933 Sewage disposal plant built on Boardman Lake

  • 1934 Con Foster museum built

  • 1934 October 7 Central High School burns down. (Replaced with present building.)

  • 1934 Miniature City placed on display at City zoo

  • 1935 Dreamland Theatre reopened as Tra-Bay movie house on E. Front

  • 1936 New city airport established on Garfield road

  • 1938 Penn-Central Airline service opened service between Detroit, TC and Sault Ste. Marie

  • 1939 New post office building (Union and State Sts.)completed at cost of $120,000

  • 1939 Michigan Bell Telephone building completed on State Street

  • 1941 WTCM established as first radio station by Les Biederman

  • 1940-46 Cherry Festivals suspended during WWII.

  • 1947 Traverse City Centennial

  • 1944 Ford Island sold to Parts Manufacturing Company

  • 1946 Capitol Airlines opens, successor to Penn Central

  • 1947 Traverse City Centennial, Traverse City Osteopathic Hospital built on Munson Ave.

  • 1949 Capitol Airlines took over air service from Penn-Central

  • June 30, 1950 First drive in theatre opened in Acme

  • 1952 Northwestern Michigan College sets up in old Coast Guard building

  • 1952 Nov. 11 Grandview Parkway opened and dedicated

  • 1954 Cass street fountain removed

  • 1954 TV station by Midwestern Broadcasting Company opened on county line road M-72

  • 1955 Boardman river bridge on Union street rebuilt

  • 1955 Cherry County Playhouse opened in a tent at the Park Place Hotel parking lot

  • 1955 April Front and State streets talker about become one-way streets but not done.

  • 1955 10/12 Artesian well landmark behind Wilhelm’s capped & removed

  • 1956 First NMC Barbeque organized by the Wigwam Club

  • 1956 Park Place Annex torn down

  • 1966 May-Oct. State and front streets made one way for a trial period.

  • 1967 Feb. State and Front streets one way voted upon, approved and in Apr. the change was made.

  • 1961 Empire National Bank opened on Elmwood Street

  • 1961 Mark Osterlin library dedicated at NMC

  • 1962 October 5 First Civic Players performance

  • 1963 Chef Pierre opened plant in Traverse City

  • 1963 Traverse City public library remodeled

  • 1963 ? 7th and 8th Streets made one way.

  • 1964 All Faiths Chapel built on Northern Michigan Hospital grounds

  • 1965 New Chamber of Commerce “blockhouse” building completed on Parkway

  • 1966 October 29 last passenger service train leaves city for Manistee

  • 1966 Giantway Plaza shopping center opened on Munson Avenue

  • 1966 W. T. Grant’s store opened on US 31 South

  • 1969 New National Bank and Trust building completed on East Front Street

  • 1969 New Cherry County Airport completed

  • 1972 Michigan Bell Telephone building completed on State Street

  • 1975 July 12 Cherry Festival Parade led by President Gerry Ford

  • 1977 May 24 Meijer opens in the former W. T. Grants building on US 31 South

  • 1978 Cherryland Mall opened on northwest corner of Garfield and South Airport

  • 2005 July 27-31 First Traverse City Film Festival