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Business

A.M. Todd Company

On a breezy day, the sweet smell of Albert M. Todd’s legacy still wafts through downtown Kalamazoo. Building on a boyhood interest, Todd established the mint industry in this area in 1869 and was so successful at it that he became known as...

Bennett, Chauncey Z.

Today, the United Kennel Club, the second oldest and largest register of pure bred dogs, operates out of its 100 East Kilgore Road building, but its humble Kalamazoo origins took…

Breweries of Early Kalamazoo

Today’s Kalamazoo brewmasters follow a long line of local brewers and malt makers that reaches back to the early nineteenth century. In fact, the art of crafting fine beers and ales can be traced to Kalamazoo’s earliest days as a frontier village.

Burdick Hotel

The origins of hospitality on the present site of the Radisson Plaza Hotel date to August 1850 when construction of an imposing four-story brick structure began. Built by Frank Dennison and initially known simply as Dennison’s brick block, the new...

Checker Motors

27 July 1999 was a bittersweet day in the history of New York City. It was the last day of operation for the only remaining legal Checker cab in that city. The cab’s driver, Earl Johnson, found himself at the center of a media circus as he took...

Cigars in Kalamazoo

Cigars and Labor Unions Cigar manufacturing in Kalamazoo wasn’t as significant as major industries like celery production or paper-making, but its colorful contribution did make an impact on the local…

Columbia Hotel

In 1870 the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad began service through Kalamazoo with a passenger station on the southeast corner of Pitcher Street and East Main, today’s East Michigan Avenue. The presence of this station, and the countless...

Distilleries of Early Kalamazoo

One of the first products made in the village, and the first to bring national attention to Kalamazoo, was of all things, whiskey. From “Enniskillen” to “Luke’s Best,” these are the stories behind Kalamazoo's pioneer distilleries.

Duplex Phonograph Company

As nineteenth century Victorian charm gave way to twentieth century modern, the phonograph emerged as a compelling new form of home entertainment. The skeptics, of course, refused to take the “talking machine” seriously at first, viewing it more...

Flinch Card Company

“The Acme of Parlor Games,” “More Simple Than Authors,” “More Scientific Than Whist.” Sound like fun? For the millions of Americans who have purchased it since 1902, Flinch has provided limitless hours of strategy and entertainment. The history of...

Germans in Kalamazoo

Germans and Enterprise From its inception, Kalamazoo has always been a place comprised of people from diverse cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds, seeking out ways to put down roots and…

Gibson Inc.

Until the 1920s, Gibson had specialized almost exclusively in mandolins. But as America’s musical tastes evolved during the 1920s and 1930s, so did Gibson’s. Banjos, ukuleles, and guitars became increasingly popular. In the early ’20s, the company...

Gilmore Brothers Department Store

It seems like just about every resident of Kalamazoo has a fond memory or good story about the Gilmore Brothers Department Store. Perhaps this isn’t surprising considering that Gilmore’s was a central feature of Kalamazoo’s urban landscape for...

Hanselman Building

“Kalamazoo has put on real city garments during the last two or three years. This is evidenced by the tall office buildings – sky-scrapers that have been erected where low ancient buildings once stood.”
The above statement was published in...

Henderson-Ames Company

One of the country’s leading producers of uniforms and regalia, the Henderson-Ames Company of Kalamazoo, Michigan, served lodges, secret societies, and other social organizations for forty years. Frank Henderson first moved to Kalamazoo from...

Kalamazoo Building

At the turn of the twentieth century skyscrapers were still a relatively recent development. The desire to build taller had historically been thwarted by the number of stairs people were willing to climb and how much weight masonry could support...

Kalamazoo Corset Company

At the turn of the 20th century, when respectable women risked their health by squeezing themselves into tight corsets in pursuit of a fashionable silhouette, the Kalamazoo Corset Company was the largest employer in the city and the largest...

Kalamazoo Funeral Homes

In Kalamazoo’s earliest days, there were no funeral homes in the sense that we know them, or even “undertakers,” but as the population became more urbanized, other arrangements gradually became necessary.

Kalamazoo Gazette

In the spring of 1834, Henry Gilbert, a young printer from Yates County, New York, was moving to Chicago with his wife. He stepped off the stagecoach in White Pigeon to stretch his legs and overheard John DeFrees say that he wanted to sell his...

Kalamazoo Sled Company

The Kalamazoo Sled Company has its earliest roots in the 1870s. From its headquarters on the corner of Third and Sheldon near the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad, the Page Manufacturing Company made wooden components for buggies until 1894. On...

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