Monroe County Library System,  Monroe, MI 48162

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Bygones of Monroe:

DOWNTOWN BUSINESSES

Buildings

Kresge's Department store was located at the North E. Front corner of Front and South Monroe Sts. The store's street address was 1 and 7-9. They had a U-shaped store with a connecting walkway at the rear of the store. Their lunch and soda fountain counter ran along the West wall of the building. Busy lunch time crowd. Along Front Street within the U-shape was a United Shirt Distributors, Inc. The second floor of this building was occupied by numerous professionals, lawyers, dentists and physicians.

11 - 13 East Front St. was a F.W. Woolworth Co. 5 and 10 cent store. A Muir's Cut rate Drug Store. On the south side of East Front St. was Stadelman's Furniture Co. at 8-10-12 East Front. 14-16 East Front was Kline Brothers department store.

Kresge's and Woolworth were both air conditioned stores. Both had a sidewalk vault for receiving inventory and coal for heating. Kresge's was a slide chute to the basement. Woolworth was a hand crank cable elevator that operated between the basement and the side walk.

Penney's was located at 23-25 East Front Street on the North side between Monroe Street and Washington Street , very near the end of Washington St . Penney's was not air conditioned. They had a sidewalk vault on the sidewalk in front of the store which they received their inventory and coal for heating. The vault was steps on one side and a slide chute on the other. The Penney store on occasion would flood from the river during high water. Penney's moved from there to what was called the Monroe Mall located at Monroe St. South of 8th street on the West side. After the Frenchtown Mall opened Penney's moved into there.

Sears was located at the corner of Monroe Street and First Street, East side. It had entrances on Monroe Street and on First Street .

Cunningham's drug store was located at the corner of Monroe St. and Front Street South East corner. It moved from there to the New Monroe Mall on Monroe St. South of 8 th Street .

Monroe in the 1940's and 1950's was referred to as a retired farmers town. Friday evening saw all of these stores crowded with shoppers.

Grocery chains were not as popular as they are today. Most canned goods were done at home. At 138 N. Monroe St. was located Packers Outlet, at 222 South Monroe St. was A & P Food Stores, at 121 South Monroe was the Kroger Co. Two produce stands that stand out in my mind were on East Front St . During the summer months there were open air produce stands. At 111 East Front was Monroe Fruit & Produce Co. operated by Russell and Jean Strazzulla and across the street at 120 East Front St. was Aiuto Brothers [sic] Wholesale produce.

Parks

A Monroe County Road map lists 4 parks in the county: Heck, Sterling State, Vienna and Waterloo . The map is not dated.

Parks recalled both past and present:

-Soldiers and Sailors Park on E. Front St .

- St. Mary's Park corner of N. Monroe St. and Elm Ave.

-Roessler Field corner of Roessler and W. Elm.

-Carnes Field corner of Roessler and 8 th street .

-Navarre Field, Jones Ave.

- Waterloo Park , off South Custer near west city limits.

-A state road side park on Telegraph Rd. at Plum Creek.

- Veterans Park , West Elm Ave.

-Loranger Square, Washington and First St .

-Helenberg Field, East Front St .

-Another located in the Orchard East area (East side of Monroe ).

-Various "Tot Lots" operated by the city of Monroe (Property not owned by city. Summer months only and part time.)

-Most school playgrounds were used for recreation outside school hours.

- Toledo Beach Park , LaSalle , MI .

-Cross of Malta Park (various other names) Brest Road leading to Stony Point .

-A private park along the River Raisin West of Ida Maybee Rd. off Dixon Road . (This is the church park that the air craft crashed into a few years back). It used to be open to the public prior to the church buying it.

-Along Telegraph road from the North County line to the South County line, picnic tables were placed at various locations for Sunday picnics.

-Memorial Park West side of South Monroe St . Between 6 th and 7 th streets.

Hospitals

On Maple Blvd. at the corner of Elm Ave. was the first hospital in Monroe . It was simply called Monroe Hospital . Some doctors had had offices on the first floor. The building was 3 stories. An addition was made to it which ran east and west from the back side of the hospital. Some surgery was done in the hospital. Patient rooms were on the second and third floors. The basement was used for lab work. The second hospital in Monroe was Mercy Hospital on Macomb St . This building still stands just north of the current Mercy Memorial Hospital building. It is used now for offices.

Industry

Early years Monroe was noted for its paper producing industry. Paper plants were located at the East and West Ends of then Elm Ave. , because of the use of water they were located along the river edge. This would hold true for the east and west ends of Front St. as well. Ford Motor Co. was located at the very east end of Elm Ave. Other manufacturers occupied this plant before Ford, such as Alco Aluminum, Kelsey Hayes Wheel Co. At the corner of Roessler and Front St. was a firm by the name of Monroe Steel Castings. Now the location of numerous town houses.

Ilgenfritz and Greenings operated nursery cellers in the Monroe area. The Ilgenfritz Nursery was located between Front Street and First Street on the north & south and between Jerome St. and Kentucky , now the site of the Salvation Army building. Early on, this was also the site of the Monroe County Fair. Another location was at the South East corner of LaPlaisance and Dunbar road. Just recently cleared.

(Anonymous patron recollections 11-20-04.)


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