Throwback Thursday

History of Kalamazoo Edition


Today, I received one of the coolest calendars at work that I think I have ever laid eyes on. I was so intrigued by it that I had to share it with you. It had the coolest old pictures of kalamazoo; some of which you might even recognize! I personally love this city and love it’s history.


Kalamazoo Mall

Kalamazoo Mall – 1960

“More than likely school shopping is the order of the day on the one year old downtown mall. Shoppers also could grab a bite at Schensul’s Cafeteria, downtown from 1938 until 1974 – or even get a ticket for “Psycho” at the State Theatre, held over for two weeks.”


Industrial State Bank - 1961

Industrial State Bank – 1961

“What we call drive-through was called an Auto-Bank in 1961. Located on Portage Street in Washington Square, the Industrial State Bank branch opened in 1946. The bank, which later became part of Comerica, is no longer there but the main bank building now houses the First Church of Christ Scientist.”


Shakespeare Company - 1950

Shakespeare Company – 1950

Yes! As in the brew pub you’ve probably been to or heard of!

“It’s no surprise these women are making fishing reals, one of the Shakespeare Company’s main products at their factory on North Pitcher and Kalamazoo Avenue. Over seventy-five parts were in each of the thousands produced daily. The company made fishing and other equipment in Kalamazoo until the 1980s.”


Winchell Elementary - 1963

Winchell Elementary – 1963

“Second graders in Mrs. Mildrer Borton’s class at Winchell Elementary are getting ready to go on a field trip to the Brunswick Corporation with their mothers. They will be visiting a company which produced school equipment in Kalamazoo, maybe even the desks they sit in every day.”


Otto Kihm Tire Company, Swimming Tube Promotion - 1954

Otto Kihm Tire Company, Swimming Tube Promotion – 1954

“A free inner tube is putting smiles on the faces of these children, courtesy of Otto Kihm Tire Company at one of their locations on North Rose Street and Kalamazoo Avenue. In business since 1937, the company moved to East Vine Street.”


Stewart & McIntyre - 1944

Stewart & McIntyre – 1944

“The Stewart & McIntyre Company not only sold tires but also provided other auto services like gas. Located on the Northwest corner of E. Kalamazoo and Porter Street, this 1920s era Mission Revival building has been home to many business and is now part of Kalamazoo Brewery.”

OR, as you may know it as BELLS BREWERY!


Cigarette Line-Up - 1945

Cigarette Line-Up – 1945

“Coffee, meat, rubber and gasoline were just some of the items rationed during World War II. Cigarettes were not, but there was a shortage because troops received them with their rations – which was why there is a line at Walgreen’s located at South Burdick and W. South Street.”


DeNooyer Chevrolet - 1944

DeNooyer Chevrolet – 1944

“For twenty years brothers Jerry and Jake DeNooyer worked in the automobile business before they purchased this Kalamazoo Chevrolet dealership in 1943. Located on the east side of Portage Street just north of Lovell, this was the site for DeNooyer Chevrolet until 1984 when they moved to Stadium Drive.”


Shipping Department, The Upjohn Company - 1939

Shipping Department, The Upjohn Company – 1939

“The Upjohn Company employee is filling this order with one of the company’s more popular products. Introduced in 1921, Citrocarbonate, an alkalizer, became Upjohn’s number one product with sales amounting to one million dollars. Demand led to the creation of a night shift at the factory.”


Waste Paper Collection, Bryant Paper Company - 1943

Waste Paper Collection, Bryant Paper Company – 1943

“A number of drives spearheaded by the Boy Scouts were held during World War II to collect materials like metal and rubber for the war effort. Local members are filling a Bryant Paper Mill truck with paper used for items like draft cards, cartridge boxes and even blood plasma containers.”


Rolling Stones guitarists at Gibson plant in Kalamazoo

Rolling Stones guitarists at Gibson plant in Kalamazoo

“Gibson CEO Tom Fetters looks on as Ron Wood and Keith Richards test guitars at the Gibson factory in July 1975. Wood and Richards visited the Gibson factory at 225 Parsons Street to tour the plant and test some of the new designs.”


Western Michigan College - c. 1952

Western Michigan College – c. 1952

“This sign, located at the intersection of Oakland Drive and West Michigan Avenue, shows how far Western had spread from the older campus to the east and the new campus to the west. The students are Freshmen due to their beanies which they had to wear until fall Homecoming.”


Consumers Power Company - 1940

Consumers Power Company – 1940

“No surprise that the brightest Christmas decorations would be at the Consumers Power Company located at 153 South Rose near West Michigan Avenue. The company at this time had over 400 employees and was the largest taxpayer in Kalamazoo. This building came down in the 1960s for the Comerica Building.”


It is crazy what time can do. Kalamazoo continues to be as beautiful as it was back then. It is obvious Kalamazoo is trying to bring the downtown area back to life.

Visit History of Kalamazoo to view more cool posts!


**All photos and information are from the WMU Archives and Regional History Collections. All research and text was done by Lynn Houghton, Regional History Curator, WMU Archives and Regional History Collections. The calendar was designed and printed by Portage Printing**

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2 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday

  1. I have never actually driven through Kazoo, but these are awesome pics. So much manufacturing going on in Michigan back in the day. And you gotta love the fins on those cars at the auto bank!

    Like

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