Hodges Building

Henry Clay Hodge Builds Early An Emerging Detroit

The Palmer Family Builds First Brick Store In Detroit 1820.


The Palmer Family comes to the US and Detroit. History of Detroit and Michigan by Silas Farmer. The Palmer family had a prominent role in the real estate and commercial development of Detroit and especially its financial district.

This is the SW corner of Griswold and Fort Streets in Detroit. The home of John Palmer est 1829, Current location of Greater Penobscot Building c1870.
The tower portion of the Penobscot Building has stood the former location of the Moffat Building since 1928.


The Palmer and Moffat block c1829


View of houses at the corner of Griswold and Fort during winter; church spires in background; label on back: "View of Fort Street, south side, from the corner of Griwold street to Third Street. The house in the foreground stands on the site of the Moffat Block. It was built by John Palmer in 1829. At that time James Williams built a large brick house adjoing the Palmer place on the south, which was on Ground covered by the southern end of the Moffat Block. Next beyond the Palmer House stood the home of Judge C. I. Walker and next came the house of James Penny. The mansion of David Thompson with its fine grounds, floral garden and fountain stood on the southeast corner of Fort and Shleby. On the southwest corner of Fort and Shelby was the home of Thomas Palmer. Adjoining it was the home of John Owen. The First Congregational Church, erected and dedicated in 1854 and vacated in 1891, stood at the southwest corner of Wayne & Fort. The spire was removed and the building became the home of the Detroit Journal and a new section was added to the front. In the distance at the extreme right is the Fort Street Presbyterian Church, finished and dedicated in 1855 and although twice damaged by fire it is still one of the most attractive churches of Detroit. At the extreme left the spire of St. Paul's Episcopal church rises from the northeast corner of Congress and Shelby streets. This was dedicated in 1855. All three of these churches were under construction at the same time."

Palmer Block becomes the Moffat Block and the beginning of the Financial District in Detroit


Detroit 1800-1820. Detroit Burns, AB Woodward Plans A Future Detroit


  • 1802: February 23.  The board of trustees for the newly created city of Detroit adopts a fire code that requires all residents and business owners to sweep their chimneys often.  It also provides buckets and ladders to residents, who are required to turn out to fight any fires.
  • 1804: The United States opens a land office in Detroit.
  • 1805: Michigan Territory is separated from the Indiana Territory, with Detroit as its capital.  William Hull is made territorial governor.
  • 1805: June 11. Detroit is destroyed by fire when baker John Harvey allegedly sets his barn ablaze with ashes from his pipe.  Territorial Governor William Hull and Judge Augustus Woodward decide to build a planned community.  Woodward creates a street plan based on the design of the nation's new capital, Washington, D.C. (Read More)

  • 1806: The first post office opens in Detroit.
  • 1806: September 13. The city of Detroit is incorporated by the Michigan Territorial governor. Solomon Sibley is appointed as the first mayor.
  • 1807: Judge Woodward rules that all enslaved persons, except those owned by British subjects, are to be freed.
  • 1807: In a treaty with Native Americans, the United States purchases much of southeastern Michigan for 2 cents an acre, for a total of about $10,000.
  • 1808: Father Gabriel Richard starts a school at Springwells (present site of Fort Wayne) for both Native American and white children.
  • 1809: Father Gabriel Richard brings the first printing press to Michigan.  His newspaper, called The Michigan Essay or Impartial Observer, fails, but he prints a spelling book for students at his school.
  • 1809: February 24. The Territorial Governing Council repeals the 1806 incorporation of Detroit as a city.
  • 1810: Detroit’s population is 770, and the Michigan Territory has 4,762 residents.
  • 1812: The United States declares war against Britain over their interference with American shipping and westward expansion.  It is known as the War of 1812.
  • 1812: August 16. General Hull surrenders Detroit to a small British force supported by local Native Americans.  The British hold Detroit for a year.
  • 1813: September 10. Captain Oliver Hazard Perry and his fleet defeat the British during the Battle of Lake Erie.  The British retreat from Detroit two weeks later.
  • 1815: Looking for a way to reward veterans of the War of 1812 with free land, the United States sends surveyor Edward Tiffin north into present day Oakland County.  He reports that most of the land is swampy and uninhabitable, which hinders settlement in Michigan.
  • 1815: Detroit, with a population of 850, is incorporated as a city.  In addition to homes, the city now has churches, businesses, shops and schools.  It also has a university – the Catholipistemiad, which later develops into present day University of Michigan.
  • 1816: Construction of a road to the small settlement at Pontiac along a former Native American trail is started.  It becomes today’s Woodward Avenue.
  • 1817: The city’s first regularly published newspaper, the Detroit Gazette, is published in both French and English.
  • 1817: August 13. President James Monroe visits Detroit, the first U.S. President to do so.  Monroe city and county are named in his honor.
  • 1818: Walk-in-the-Water is the first steamboat on the Great Lakes. It makes water travel from Buffalo, New York to Detroit easier.
  • 1818: July 6. The first public land auction in Michigan takes place in Detroit.  The average price for land is $4 an acre.
  • 1819: Detroit’s population is 1,100.
  • 1819 – 1822: Lewis Cass negotiates a series of treaties with Native Americans that opens up Michigan for American settlement, but limits Indian rights.
  • 1820: The first brick building in Detroit is built by shop owner Thomas Palmer. (Read More)


Post 1805 Fire, AB Woodward Designs A Future Detroit of Grand Circuses

He was born in New York in 1774 and, on November 6 in a Reformed Dutch Church, was baptized Elias Brevoort Woodward, after his maternal uncle.  Elias Brevoort was one of pre-Revolutionary Manhattan's leading citizens with a substantial estate.  Woodward enrolled in Columbia College at the age of fifteen and received his A.B. degree.  He read widely, was well grounded in Greek and Latin and became fluent in French.  Elias Woodward later changed his name from Elias to Augustus, thinking that it better suited his personality.  It was his habit to keep a small notebook in which he jotted down whatever interested him.  After graduation in 1793, he took a job in Philadelphia where he was employed as a clerk in the Treasury Department. The uncle left him an inheritance of 150 English pounds.  With this inheritance, he set out for the new city of Washington on the Potomac, where he invested in real estate.

While in Rockbridge County in 1795, he was received in Monticello and admitted to Thomas Jefferson's intimate circle.  This was the beginning of a lasting friendship.

In order to keep the Northwest Territories Congress needed to populate the area.  To facilitate the latter, they needed a system of laws and governance; and The Northwest Ordinance was the first effort in that direction.  It is of note that this ordinance was adopted by the Continental Congress in 1787 before our Constitution was written.  It outlawed slavery, promoted education, and provided for a governor, a secretary and three judges appointed by Congress.  But the territories were vast, and the inhabitants were forced to travel inordinate distances to seek justice.  As the numbers of settlers increased, new territories were broken out from the original.  Finally, the Territory of Michigan was established with its own governor, secretary and three federally appointed judges of whom Augustus Woodward was one. (Read More)

In an 1805 post-fire Detroit, Msrs Cash, Woodbridge, Sibley and Chipman forwarded the plan of a future Detroit to a future President of the US, Martin Van Buren for approval.


On the destruction of the old town of Detroit, an act of Congress was passed authorizing the governor and judges of the Territory to lay out a new town.

Augustus moved to Georgetown in the District of Columbia.  He became acquainted with Charles L'Enfant and his plan for Washington.  On the inside cover of his notebook he pasted a copy of L'Enfant's plan for Washington with the location of his ten properties marked.(Read More)

Woodward knew nothing of this when he arrived in Detroit on June 30.  Woodward's fame had preceded him; the citizens made it clear that Woodward represented a community hope.  Detroit needed a figure of authority.  Since the fire, the citizens had bickered among themselves about when and how they should start to rebuild.  The new governor, William Hull, accompanied by his secretary, Stanley Griswold, arrived from Albany later the next day.  The following morning, as his first official act, Hull administered the oaths of office to Secretary Griswold and Justices Woodward and Bates, the former assuming the office of chief justice by virtue of an earlier commission.  Hull had been sworn in enroute by the Vice-President, George Clinton. 

Hull, Woodward and Bates formed themselves into a land board to plan a layout for the new city.  They asked the populace to wait patiently.  Woodward was chosen as a committee of one to layout the new Detroit.  It was a year and a half before Woodward's plan was completed, and you can see L'Enfant's imprint.  The plan consisted of an equilateral triangle with 4,000 foot sides, divided into six sections by a perpendicular line from every angle bisecting the opposite side, with squares, circuses and other open spaces where six avenues and where twelve avenues intersect, large circular plazas one thousand feet in diameter, were connected and intersected by north-south and east-west grand avenues, each two hundred feet wide.  From each of the hub-like plazas or circuses, eight other avenues would radiate like spokes of a wheel.  These were one hundred and twenty feet wide and connected at intervals by sixty-foot wide streets. The grand circuses were intended to be sites for public buildings, churches, schools – all the space to be landscaped, adorned with fountains and statuary, and lined with trees.  The base of the first triangular unit paralleled the river for four thousand feet.  The apex of the original was at the present Grand Circus Park and the intersection of the avenues which would have bisected its angles can still be seen at the Campus Martius.  The first unit was designed for fifty thousand.  It could easily be enlarged by adding a second or third triangle by making one side of the original triangle, the base of the new one.

This was a city plan beyond the understanding of the frontier citizens who had never seen a European city and could not appreciate an advanced idea of scientific planning.  After eleven years, Woodward's plan was abandoned.  If Detroit had followed this, it would be the envy of other cities without the congestion of today. .(Read More)

Maurice Salad From Hudson’s Is Timeless

The Campus Martius and Hudson's c1917.

Came across a recipe for the Maurice Salad from Hudson's (Via Detroit Free Press)

Maurice Salad


Serves: 6 (generously) / Preparation time: 40 minutes / Total time: 40 minutes


■ 2 teaspoons white vinegar
■ 1½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
■ 1½ teaspoons onion juice
■ 1½ teaspoons sugar
■ 1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
■ ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
■ 1 cup mayonnaise, reduced-fat or regular
■ 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
■ 1 hard-cooked egg, diced
■ Salt and freshly ground black pepper
■ 1 pound ham, julienned
■ 1 pound cooked turkey breast, julienned
■ 1 pound Swiss cheese, julienned
■ ½ cup slivered sweet gherkin pickles
■ 1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
■ 8-12 pimiento-stuffed green olives for garnish (optional)


To prepare the dressing, in a small bowl combine the vinegar, lemon juice, onion juice, sugar, Dijon and dry mustard; whisk well to dissolve the sugar.

Whisk in the mayonnaise, parsley and egg, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, combine the ham, turkey, cheese and pickles and toss lightly. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently fold together.

Arrange a bed of lettuce on each plate. Top with the meat and cheese mixture and garnish each serving with 2 olives and serve.

From “The Marshall Field’s Cookbook” (Book Kitchen, $24.95). Tested by the Free Press Test Kitchen.

752 calories (60% from fat), 50 grams fat (24 grams sat. fat), 12 grams carbohydrates, 60 grams protein, 1,814 mg sodium, 214 mg cholesterol, 703 mg calcium, 1 gram fiber.



A Corner Of Historic Grand Moments

Grand Circus Building 1908

The Grand Circus Park Historic District building c1908. The mother of aviator Charles Lindbergh was born in a house that predated this building.
The Grand Circus building was built in 1887 by David Whitney, In 1914, his son, David Charles Whitney, built the David Whitney Building on this location




Smoke On The Water, Fire In The Sky of Detroit 1805

Follow Me To Fort Lernoult (Detroit) of 1792

Come with Digital Traveler back to the shores of the Detroit River c1792. Before a time of the historic Fort Wayne.

 It was built by the British in 1779 as Fort Lernoult, and was ceded to the United States by the Jay Treaty in 1796. It was renamed Fort Detroit by Secretary of War Henry Dearborn in 1805


In the fall of 1778, Captain Richard Lernoult, the commander of the British Army at Fort Detroit, feared that that existing encampment would not be sufficient to defend against the oncoming American forces, who, under the command of Colonel Daniel Brodhead, had advanced to within ninety miles. He dispatched his second in command, Captain Henry Bird, to plan a new fortification on higher ground. Work commenced on the project in November 1778, and although construction was beset by problems due to severe weather, by October 1779 a total of 381 British troops were stationed at the new fort.[2]

The fort was constructed of a 4' high pile of tree trunks, topped with 7-8' long sharpened stakes, all of which were covered with an 11' high earth embankment, 12' wide at the top and 26' thick at the base. Outside of the embankment was a 5-6' deep ditch, 12' wide and containing an 11-12' picket (Wikipedia)

Fort Lernoult marker


Fort Lernoult overlaid on a modern street map