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Graine, Judson C.

Horse Trainer and Landscaper


I first stumbled across the name of Judson C. Graine while looking for photographs of the Arcadia Brook Golf Course, a recreational business that was owned by real estate entrepreneur and financier Charles B. Hayes, and which was located on the rolling land where most of Western Michigan University’s primary campus is located today. In the image, the Graine’s pose in front of their house along West Michigan Avenue, surrounded by blooming flowers. I was curious to learn more about the two.

Judson C. Graine and his wife Grace stand in front of their home at 1323 W. Michigan Avenue, c. 1922-1933. KPL Photograph Collection, P-931

Judson C. Graine was born in 1874 in Paw Paw, Michigan. A few years later, he moved to Kalamazoo, where his enthusiasm for horses and horse racing developed. Graine was closely associated with Kalamazoo’s most famous race horse, Peter the Great, who was born on the Streeter Farm, where WMU’s main campus is today. Graine told a Kalamazoo Gazette reporter in 1948 that he not only helped in training the young horse, but slept next to it. Graine also drove the famous trotter an eighth of a mile in 20 seconds. Eventually, well past his prime, the famous horse was sold as a sire at a price of $50,000. By the early part of the 20th century, the sport of horse-trotting began to diminish in popularity.

Grace and Judson Graine outside of their home at 1323 W. Michigan Avenue, c. 1922-1933. KPL Photograph Collection, P-930

In the summer of 1913, Graine was an organizer of and participant in an event in Battle Creek, Michigan to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

“One of the largest gatherings of negroes which has ever assembled in this section of the state will celebrate the jubilee of the emancipation of their race in Battle Creek tomorrow, when 10,000 Afro-Americans from Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Canada will be the guests of the representatives of their race who live in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo.” (KG 30 July 1913)

The Happy Hunstmen’s Club and Arcadia Brook Golf Course

A search of the Kalamazoo Gazette reveals that Graine was known as a landscaper by the mid-1920’s. An article that appeared in the 5 April 1925 edition of the newspaper, detailing the development of a beach resort for blacks called ‘Box Elder’ mentions Graine: “Judson Graine, an expert landscape gardener, will have charge of laying out the grounds at Box Elder Beach, and the planting of shrubbery, trees and flowers, and will supervise generally the parking of the resort.” The resort mentioned appears to have been the project of Schuyler C. Phillips, an enterprising man originally from Minneapolis, and who was affiliated with the Second Baptist Church in Kalamazoo. The resort was planned to be developed along Campbell Lake in (Comstock Township), near where Echo Valley Amusement Park is located today.

According to Graine’s obituary, he worked at both Charles B. Hays’ The Happy Huntsmen’s Club (late 1920’s), and later as proprietor of the Flower Garden Tearoom (mid-1930’s), both situated along W. Michigan Avenue. As to how Graine and his wife became the head managers of the club buildings, it’s not farfetched to speculate that Graine may have crossed paths with Charles B. Hays during Graine’s years working with horses. Two decades earlier, Hays had platted the area once occupied by the National Driving Park in the early 1900’s, where the two may have met. The Huntsmen’s Club was the social and dining facility of the Hays-developed enterprise, a 9-hole golf course with bridle paths for horse riding. Later, the golf portion of the property would be called Arcadia Brook Golf Course.

Graine was married to Grace Thompson Graine until her death in 1933 at the age of 49. Grace was a native of Kalamazoo. They had one son (Clifford), born in 1906.

Kalamazoo Gazette, 26 December 1962

Graine passed away on 25 December 1962 at his home on 429 1/2 E. North Street. He is buried in Riverside Cemetery.

 

Written by Ryan Gage, Kalamazoo Public Library staff, December 2022

Sources

Articles

“Thousands of colored folks to celebrate emancipation today; local Africans will be hosts”
Kalamazoo Gazette, 30 July 1913

“Box Elder Beach lots sale begun”
Kalamazoo Gazette, 5 April 1925

“C.B. Hays’ Happy Huntsmen’s Club will be opened to public Saturday and Sunday”
Kalamazoo Gazette, 28 October 1927

“Mrs. Grace Graine dies at age of 49”
Kalamazoo Gazette, 4 June 1933

“Judson Graine succumbs: figure from great era in horse racing dies”
Kalamazoo Gazette, 26 December 1962


Local History Room Files

Name File: Graine, Judson C.

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