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  • Last modified 91 days ago (Aug. 16, 2018)

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MEMORIES IN FOCUS: Before the short-lived MacGregor's years ago

The southeast corner of Main and 3rd Sts. in Marion has been home to many short-lived ventures.

Departing for the Chingawasa Springs mineral baths on railroad tracks extending north on 3rd St. in 1889, passengers would have seen this view looking back to the southeast as they crossed Main St.

Businesses included, from left:

  • Davis Harness Shop, where Chris Niedermeyer, later to become a shoe store owner, worked as a bootmaker.
  • Denmark and Company’s City Bakery, later to become a meat market before reverting to a bakery.
  • A.R. Hill’s bakery, formerly known as Benward Bakery and later better known as a restaurant and grocery establishment where, among other things, fresh Michigan celery was sold every week.

Both bakeries included restaurants featuring hot coffee, lunch, ice cream, confectionaries, and, eventually, one of the era’s most sought-after delicacies, oysters.

“Blue laws” were either statutory or customary in those days.

Upon purchasing the bakery in 1886, Hill announced in the Record: “I desire a share of the public patronage six days in the week, but on the Sabbath there shall be no business whatever done.”

Also housed in the stretch of buildings were the medical office of physician Joseph Hannaford and what appeared to be offices for the Marion Belt and Chingawasa Springs railroad, the tracks for which were just to the right of the buildings shown.

Main St. in front of the buildings, still a dirt street in this photo, was macadamized for the first time a few months after the photo was made.

The brick bakery building at right had survived an 1886 fire that destroyed most of the frame structures on the south side of Main St. between 3rd and 4th Sts. The frame buildings to the left in the photo were constructed after the fire.

All of the buildings survived, albeit sometimes as vacant storefronts, the Panic of 1893, which condemned the Chingawasa Springs resort and led to the removal of the rail line installed in 1889.

They eventually were replaced in 1904, however, with the Dean Building, a manufactured-stone structure that survives today and most recently was home to short-lived MacGregor’s Pub.

In 1890, Marion was a growing city of 2,047 residents, its population having doubled in 10 years and rising to 2,115 a year later.

The nationwide panic proved disastrous, however, as population declined by almost 11 percent in the next decade, reaching approximately today’s level. Population has peaked above that level twice since then — in 1960 and in 2000.

Last modified Aug. 16, 2018

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