Check Out Nine Historical Markers in Royal Oak, Bicycling Recommended

Check Out Nine Historical Markers in Royal Oak, Bicycling Recommended

(Royal Oak Nature Society, May 28, 2020)

Royal Oak, MI – We want to share this with all of you who love biking and are interested in our local history.  The president of the Royal Oak Nature Society, Christine Utter’s husband, Tom, put together this Historical Marker bicycle tour we thought you might enjoy.  The latitude and longitude links will take you to Google Maps so that you can get directions to each location.  It should be great fun and very informative!

The Royal Oak
Near this spot stood the oak tree named by General Cass “The Royal Oak” from which Royal Oak Township received its name.

Royal Oak Township Cemetery
In 1826 Daniel Burrows donated land for use as a cemetery. The first burial was the infant daughter of Laura Swift Chase and David Chase, who later served as township supervisor and a delegate to the “Convention of Assent” for Michigan statehood. In 1857 it was taken over by the Royal Oak Township Board of Health. The cemetery contains the remains of veterans of all U.S. wars from the American Revolution through the Vietnam War as well as pioneers and prominent citizens. A boulder in Section J gives the names of township residents who died in the Civil War and World War I. Integrated since the beginning, this cemetery has been owned and maintained by the city of Royal Oak since 1921. Saint Mary Catholic Cemetery – Saint Mary Catholic Cemetery was established in 1875 and consecrated by Bishop Caspar Henry Borgess that year. The land for the cemetery was purchased from Royal Oak Township. One of the earliest burials was for Edmund Loughnane (Lockman), who had hosted Catholic meetings in his home. Unusual statuary includes a concrete tree trunk and a seated maiden holding flowers. The statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, located atop Saint Mary High School beginning in 1925, was moved here in 1992. This cemetery contains the remains of a number of local businessmen, among them undertaker William Sullivan, and John and Frank Fraquelli, founders of Royal Oak Monumental Works, whose markers are located here and in the Royal Oak Township cemetery.

Orson Starr Home
Orson Starr (1803-1873) and his wife, Rhoda Gibbs Starr, (1806-1853) built this home in 1845. Five generations of the Starr family lived here until 1964. The house was purchased by the city of Royal Oak in 1976. Orson Starr came to this area in 1831 and began manufacturing cowbells in a factory located just north of this site. He continued this trade for forty years. The cowbells, products of Royal Oak’s first industry, were stamped with Starr’s trademark and are now prized by collectors.

Indian Trail
This depressed path, northwest across the Almon Starr land, is the last visible remnant of a trail worn by the feet of Indians and the hoofs of their horses traveling between Detroit and Saginaw until the mid-1800s. The children of the American Revolution planted the pin oak tree nearby in 1939 to mark the trail. To perpetuate the memory of the natives of our land, this monument is set for the Michigan Sesquicentennial

Dr. Firman W. Clawson Homestead Site
On this site stood the old homestead of Dr. Firman W. Clawson the original owner & subdivider of Northwood “the Homesite Beautiful” Planned & planted A.D. 1900

Roseland Park Mausoleum
The Roseland Park Mausoleum was the largest public mausoleum in the United States when it was dedicated in 1914. Designed by Detroit architect Louis Kamper (1861-1953), the classically inspired, the two-story building contains 1,300 crypts. Before designing this structure, Kamper traveled to Europe to study noted mausoleums there. The interior of this building is faced with Vermont marble and classically detailed with double-tier Doric columns in the entrance lobby and in the main hall. Skylights enhance its lighting.

Fred A. Baker House
In 1890, Fred A. Baker, an attorney, and former state legislator purchased 320 acres of land in Royal Oak Township. He developed the land into the Black Meadow Dairy Farm, one of the area’s largest dairies. This Colonial Revival house was built in 1896 on his farm across LaSalle Street. It was moved to this site in 1916 when Baker and several associates formed the Baker Land Company and subdivided the farm into the Bronx subdivision, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.

Royal Oak Woman’s Club
Erected in 1839, this building was originally a small frame Baptist church. The village purchased it for a town hall in 1914 and used it for municipal purposes until 1923 when the Royal Oak Woman’s Club acquired it. The club, founded in 1902 as a women’s study group, has relocated the structure twice. In 1923, when the building was remodeled as a Tudor-style structure, a cobblestone fireplace was installed. This is the oldest building in the city of Royal Oak.

Royal Oak Methodist Episcopal Church
On May 3, 1918, the Royal Oak Tribune boasted that “architecturally and artistically,” the new Methodist Episcopal Church was “the achievement of a mastermind.” William E. N. Hunter, a Detroit architect and Methodist who designed many Protestant churches, provided the plans for this Collegiate Gothic-style church, now known as First United Methodist Church. The Methodist Episcopal congregation was the first church organized in Royal Oak. It was established in 1838, and five years later its members built a wood-frame church on this site. In 1894 the frame church was replaced with one built of bricks manufactured and donated by Edwin A. Starr. By 1915 a new church was needed to accommodate the growing membership. The education wing was added in 1928.

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