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150th edition

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Special 150th Anniversary Edition • Thursday, October 26, 2017


Ludington daily newS/SECTION 2


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| Ludington daily newS/SECTION 2

Ludington industry evolves

As lumber industry declines, village leaders look to new means of bolstering economy By James L. Cabot from the Daily News archives

The Filer House was one of many development projects aimed at diversifying Ludington’s industry in the late 1800s. Built at what is now the site of Ludington’s Rotary Park, the Filer House began as a worker’s dormitory, before construction began to turn it into a resort.


uring the early 1890s, the Village of Ludington began turning away from its lumber industry roots, looking instead to establish a manufacturing economy. In a town dependent on natural resources for its prosperity, Ludington’s leaders could hardly do anything worse than pack their equipment, take their money and leave. By 1892, most of the local lumber barons had already done so. Year after year, Ludington experienced a steady exodus of lumberers, merchants and skilled trade workers, who moved on to more prosperous places. This left the boosting of the city, for the most part, in the hands of younger men of moderate means — men like Mason County Treasurer Frank A. Foster, who invested much of his own time and money into Citizen’s Development Co. and the Standard Cloth Co. in 1892 in the interest of seeing the manufacturing industries relocate to Ludington. It was also 1892 when the first daily newspaper appeared in town, the Daily Mail. The paper was started by a veteran newspaper publisher in Manistee, who hired an itinerant editor to run the paper, who went by the name App Smith, a Confederate veteran of the Civil War.

Decline of the lumber industry The burning of the Pardee, Cook & Co. mill in 1891 served as a warning to the city. Pardee, Cook & Co. moved the operation to California and civic leaders awoke to the realization that soon, other mill owners would follow. As a result, the Ludington Improvement Association was incorporated on May 28, 1891, with a capital of $10,000. Company stockholders included Village Mayor Fred E. Gary, along with H.S. Fuller, F.J. Dowland, Thomas P. McMaster, H.N. Morse, James Danaher, J.S. Stearns, James Schick, Lucius K. Baker, John Sherman and Donald Cargill. The association issued an illustrated brochure, “The Advantages of the City of Ludington.” “We are not content to stop with what we have, but are reaching out and encouraging others to come. Our people recognize the fact that a true foundation for a city’s prosperity usher manufacturing industries, and to those who believe in the future of Ludington and recognize the superior advantages of this city for conducting manufacturing enterprises, our citizens are willing to act generously in every way and to offer them tangible inducements to locate with us,” the brochure read. After lumbering waned, area businessmen looked for ways to diversify local economy. The first attempt to do so involved the Filer House, which stood on the present site of Rotary Park. The building was erected during the winter of 1865 as a boarding house for employees of James Ludington. In 1869, it became the private residence of Delos L. Filer when Ludington retired and the Pere Marquette Lumber Co. was organized with Filer as president. Filer died in 1879, and his house was sold to Marshall G. Smith in the spring of 1880. Smith converted the building into a hotel and named the Filer House in memory of its previous owner. Smith later sold the hotel to Fred Gulembo and E.L. Baldwin. By 1890, the building had been acquired Charles G. Wing, who proposed to renovate the Filer House as a resort hotel. Realizing he could not accomplish this trask alone, he offered to sell the hotel to a stock company, which would then undertake the necessary work. Wing’s offer resulted in the organization of the Ludington Park Association for the “construction, owning, controlling and leasing of a hotel in the city of Ludington.” With an authorized

capital of $50,000, the association was incorporated on Aug. 15, 1890, with stockholders Charles G. Wing, Gilbert H. Blodgett, Antoine E. Cartier, James E. Danaher, Frederick J. Dowland, Frank Filer, N.J. Gaylord, Harry Huston, John D. Hoogstraat, Thomas P. McMaster, George N. Stray and B.J. Goodsell and Co. During fall 1890, men were at work grading the northwest portion of the hotel grounds for the erection of summer cottages to be offered for rent. Work halted when concern was raised regarding the quality of the

water supplied by the city’s original water works. By the time a new water works had been completed in 1892, the investors had lost interest in the hotel project. For a time, there was hope that a manual-training school would locate in the vacant hotel, but nothing came of this proposal. Later, the Ludington Record criticized John Mason Loomis, president of the Pere Marquette Lumber Co., for his failure to support the school project. The Filer House was razed in 1895, and the property was donated to the city for

use as a city park in 1899. Early in 1892, negotiations were opened for the purchase of 2,000 acres north of the Ludington village limits for use as factory sites. The land, called the Manufacturer’s Addition, was made up of the area that today is bounded by Bryant Road and Rath, Tinkham and Washington avenues. The efforts resulted in a barbecue and real estate auction at the site on Thursday, July 14, 1892. Mayor Lucius K. Baker declared that day a legal holiday. A festive parade to the site of the barbecue and auction

was led by Baker, Congressman Harrison H. Wheeler and the president of the Citizen’s Development Company, Charles G. Wing. In his book, “Lumber, Lath and Shingles,” the late Luman W. Goodenough recalled that day. “The great day for the carnival, the formal opening and dedication of the ‘Manufacturer’s Addition,’ arrived. It was ushered in with bunding and banners, brass bands and processions, speeches, promises, prophecies and good feeling. Practically the whole town gathered on the barren area it

was hoped had become the promised land of industry. There were two huge pits of hardwood coals, over each of which was swung a whole carcass of been on a spit, rotatingly roasting for the free barbecue. “School children in gala dress, waving flags, sang patriotic songs and marched before the speakers’ stand. A parson and a priest invoked divine blessing on the efforts of the citizens to save the city from desertion. Our congressman and a noted orator imported for the occasion prophesied the rebirth of the city whose first founding came from the power of pine. They predicted that new factories and methods would make a metropolis out of the old town. “Then the high pressure auctioneers and salesmen were loosed, and if there was an unsold lot of that barren waste upon which a down payment had not been made before nightfall, it was not upon the platted plan of the addition. We all trudged home that evening devoutly thankful for industrial salvation and the promise of a prosperous future.” Although the depression of the 1890s ruined the plans, new industries moved into the subdivisions in the early 1990s.

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Ludington daily newS/SECTION 2


Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad commissions two 145-foot steamers, No. 1 and No. 2 Cross-lake ferry service expanded to include routes to Manistee, Manitowoc

Filer House at current site of Rotary Park acquired by Charles G. Wing, who proposed to renovate building into resort hotel

McDonald’s bakery opens

Ludington Park Association founded for “construction, owning, controlling and leasing of a hotel in the city of Ludington”

Ludington Improvement Association incorporated with a capital of $10,000; stockholders include Mayor Fred. E. Gary, H.S. Fuller, F.J. Dowland, Thomas P. McMaster, H.N. Morse, James Danaher, J.S. Stearns, James Schick, Lucius K. Baker, John Sherman, Donald Cargill

Congratulations to the LDN on your 150th Anniversary!


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| Ludington daily newS/SECTION 2

Epworth begins as area formerly known as village of Lincoln offered by Ludington’s Citizens Development Company to Methodist camp officers with the promise of assistance of land, money and labor

Negotiations begin for the purchase of 2,000 acres north of city limits for use in part as factory sites

Citizens Development Company formed to attract manufacturing business and tourism to area; Charles G. Wing president

U.S. Supreme Court, in Plessy v. Ferguson, rules that states have the right to legally segregate public facilities if they are “equal” in quality

Lumbering, associated commerce makes Ludington a major Great Lakes shipping port

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY Ludington Daily News

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Yosemite National Forest today is a vast, beautiful area of protected, largely undisturbed land. The expansion that secured the park as the sprawling expanse it is today, however, had simple beginnings — it all began with a short camping trip. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt, on a trip to California, requested naturalist John Muir take him on a tour of the land that would become later be incorporated into the park. Muir enthusiastically agreed, and the pair spent several nights in the forest, camping out beneath the national park’s massive sequoia trees. Roosevelt was so moved by the experience that he, at Muir’s urging, worked to expand the park. In 1906, three years later, Roosevelt signed a law to bring the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove — the site the pair reportedly camped at — under federal jurisdisction and incorporate it into the national forest. The price of a pound of flour was 4 cents in 1897.

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1890 — North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington and Idaho are granted statehood and Yosemite National Park is created. 1891 — Wyoming is granted statehood.

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Ludington daily newS/SECTION 2

Ludington Record July 14, 1892 T

his page, dated Thursday, July 14, 1892, advertises a real estate auction. The Manufacturer’s Addition was a chunk of land parcels bordered by Bryant Road and Rath, Tinkham and Washington avenues. The auction was an event to celebrate, with a barbecue and appearances by Ludington’s mayor, Lucius K. Baker, and area legislators. Baker declared the day a legal holiday.




| Ludington daily newS/SECTION 2

Justus Stearns: Supporter of industry, lumber era

Bringing the local news Between about 1878 and 1888, there were three weekly newspapers operating simultaneously in Ludington — The Ludington Record, The Ludington Appeal and The Ludington Democrat, which was started by E.W. Marsh. In 1894, the Democrat changed to The SemiWeekly Democrat under R.H. Elsworth. By 1896 the paper was again published under the title The Ludington Democrat by L.W. Hardwick. In the spring of 1892, the city had its first daily newspaper, the Daily Mail. It was started by a daily newspaper publisher in Manistee, who hired an itinerant newsman to run the paper. He was App Smith, a Confederate veteran of the Civil War.

Trees were often cut down in the winter and transported by sleigh to a rollaway near rivers like the Pere Marquette River. At right are workers of Justus S. Stearns, one of Ludington’s most prolific lumber barons and historic business leaders. Originally from New York, Stearns worked throughout the Midwest region before settling in Michigan in the 1870s with his wife, Paulina, and son, Robert. Robert E. Gable photos

Construction on the Stearns Hotel began in 1902 and it officially opened in July 1903. It has been a mainstay on Ludington Avenue ever since.

Justus S. Stearns (1845-1933) was a lumber baron and business leader often referred to as Ludington’s First Citizen. He and his family lived in the village on the corner of Washington Avenue and Fourth Street. Epworth Heights, right, was founded in 1894 with the help of funds from Stearns.


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Mercy Health Ludington Services Call 231.843.2543 or the number listed for more information. Ann Nienhuis, FNP

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LDN 150th part 2  

LDN 150th part 2