Up until about 1890 the village of Red Jacket essentially ended at 7th street, with the land sitting past that being nothing but grazing fields. As the village expanded the vacant land on Oak’s western end became home to warehouses, churches, and a lumber yard – with a few homes sprinkled in for good measure. But that would soon change with the Mineral Range depot moving in to 9th street. Land once occupied by those warehouses and lumber yards suddenly became much more valuable and soon high priced tenants were moving in. By the turn of the century those once vacant lots along Oak’s west end became lined with some rather impressive structures, including some of the village’s largest and most opulent business blocks.
We start our tour at the 700 block’s north-east corner, as seen in the photo above. As noted earlier 7th street attracted several churches in it’s early years, one of which is seen above. That church is the Red Jacket congregational, built around 1890. Next door sits a private residence, one of the 700’s first tenants (though it’s technically on 7th). This house was erected around 1895, built to replace a smaller home that originally called the lot home.
That early home would continue to anchor this corner lot for another thirty years, before becoming abandoned and destroyed around 1915. The highly sought piece of real estate would then become home to a gas station, Oak’s first and only. Today the gas station has been replaced by the supply warehouse seen above.
Next down the line we have a second house, this one technically sitting on neighboring 8th street. This particular house was built around 1890, making it the oldest structure still standing along the 700 block. Currently it sits in the shadow of the incredible St. Paul church across the street.
Moving back to the south side of the street, we find a few more residential homes calling the 700 block home. These homes sit on land previously occupied the Armstrong-Thielman lumber yard. With the arrival of the neighboring depot, the old yard was moved down alongside the Mineral Range tracks near Portland street, leaving this portion of Oak free for new development.
The first of these homes is the Kitti House, a large Victorian inspired home sitting on the corner of 7th. Around 1916 this turreted house was home to Henry Kitti, a Finnish immigrant who first arrived to the country in 1877. Henry would go on to help form the Finnish Mutual Fire Insurance Company, serving first as secretary and then later as president. The neighboring house was originally built as a duplex. It was home to George Pascoe, a bartender at the Michigan House; and Seth Anderson, a brakeman for C&H.
Looking past these two homes and further down Oak Street we find a few rather large and impressive buildings come into view. Zooming into the archive photo above provides an even better look…
What we see here is the apex of Oak Street’s evolution from simple cross street to major commercial center. Here a good three blocks removed from 5th street we find some of the village’s largest and most impressive structures including the Arlington Hotel and the immense four story Bollman block. The Bollman will have to wait until our 800 block tour, but we’ll take a closer look at the Arlington next.
The Arlington Hotel first opened its doors as the “New Jewel House”, around 1897. The original Jewel House was located on 5th street, in an old wood framed building later used by the Central Hotel. With the arrival of the Mineral Range depot to Oak’s west end, the Jewel saw an opportunity to increase it’s business substantially. They bought an old warehouse sitting on the corner of 8th and replaced it with this modern and opulent three story brick hotel.
With the subsequent arrival of the streetcar line, the hotel underwent a rebranding, becoming the high class Arlington Hotel. The Arlington featured a barbershop, dining room, saloon and billiards hall on its first floor. Its upper floors contained rooms.
Unfortunately the Arlington was torn down in the early 1920‘s, leaving a large empty lot for many years. Eventually the lot became home to this rather unique home, featuring what appears to be a stone facade. I would guess that facade might just be a veneer though.
It’s hard to tell a great hotel once stood here, except for the rather large sidewalk sitting now in front of that small home. Up behind the house can be see the final stop on our 700 block tour. – the Grichar’s Grocer.
More on that tomorrow….