About

By 1860, the north side of the 100 block of what is now East Michigan Avenue was filled with two to three story masonry buildings, simple in appearance and with minimal architectural details beyond stone window hoods and sills and people considered the center of Kalamazoo to be essentially complete. Beginning at the end of that decade, the Italianate style took hold and most of the buildings came down to be replaced with a more modern style. In 1868, the editor of the Kalamazoo Telegraph lamented, “the builders had seen some new pattern and had gone to work to tear things down to admit a new style for the village.” One hundred and fifty years later, the Metropolitan Center will not be repeating that pattern – these 19th century treasures will be revitalized and will again become some of the most important buildings in the heart of Kalamazoo.

In the last half of the 19th century, Kalamazoo had saloons in almost every block, but between 1870 and 1910, the highest concentration could be found in the Haymarket area along East Michigan Avenue and on the north side of the 100 block. Of the six storefronts in four buildings four to five were continually occupied by saloons. Billiard halls, often located above the saloons, added to the mix, with restaurants, furnished rooms and small offices filling in the empty spaces. The ground floor of the Baumann, Lilienfeld and Henderson blocks functioned almost exclusively as saloons in this period. Fees for licensing saloons and billiard halls helped to support city government with annual costs of $500 to $1000 per establishment. (Comparable to $10-20,000 today – paid directly to the city)

In 1907, the City Rescue Mission obtained the lease on the east half of the Henderson Building and staged a dramatic event, dumping whiskey and beer into the streets and sermonizing from atop an empty whiskey barrel. Though the mission only stayed two years, by 1911 all the saloons had migrated further east. In 1915, the voters of Kalamazoo, in an extremely close election, chose to prohibit the manufacture and sale of alcohol, closing all of the saloons within thirty days.

In the late 1870s, cigar manufacturing was introduced to Kalamazoo and David Lilienfeld and Brothers added cigar making to their distribution of wines and liquor. From 1874 to 1908, cigar making occupied the second and third floors of the two center buildings for the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

In 1912 a new leisure time enterprise, the Orpheum Theater, moved into the old Brunswick Saloon in the Lilienfeld building (119) and continued in business well into the 1940s.

The Henderson Building at 123-127 East Michigan was built around 1868 for a firm that sold trunks and luggage – and later would become the Henderson-Ames Company with an international market in Masonic and fraternal uniforms and regalia.

The Lilienfeld Building at 119, went up in 1874. David Lilienfeld had a cigar factory on the upper floors and also distributed wine and liquor. T

The Baumann Block at 113, was completed in 1875 for Nicholas Baumann and started out as a saloon – continuing that business into the first decade of the 20th century.

The Metropolitan Building (next to the KVCC Center for New Media) is the youngest building, completed sometime between 1880 and 1883. The Metropolitan buiolding was a restaurant, saloon and rooming house through the end of the 19th century and after Kalamazoo voters prohibited alcohol in 1915, the upper floors became offices and rooms-for-rent.

In the late 1870s, cigar manufacturing was introduced to Kalamazoo and David Lilienfeld and Brothers added cigar making to their distribution of wines and liquor. From 1874 to 1908, cigar making occupied the second and third floors of the two center buildings for the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

In 1912 a new leisure time enterprise, the Orpheum Theater, moved into the old Brunswick Saloon in the Lilienfeld building (119) and continued in business well into the 1940s.