Like all cities, Saginaw's story is the story of the people who shaped it and who are still shaping it today. Among them was Peter C. Andre, an early pioneer who served as Mayor from 1863-1865 and again in 1883 - and who left his mark that is still visible today.
Born in Detroit in 1817, Andre settled in Saginaw in 1846 when there were fewer than 900 people. Along the river, he initially established a fur-trading post at which many of his customers were indigenous Chippewas whose language he learned to speak fluently. Andre soon abandoned fur-trading in favor of selling dry goods, boots and shoes.
Andre also began selling real estate in 1848. At the time, the US was pushing westward and the demand for lumber was soaring. Saginaw quickly became the heart of Michigan's lumber industry and its population exploded. And in what is known today as Old Town Saginaw, buildings were sprouting to accommodate the needs of the city's residents. P. C. Andre built several of them, beginning in 1866.
In 1869, Andre sold his retail business to pursue real estate full time. By then, he had acquired several parcels of property a few blocks west of Old Town on both sides of Court Street between Mason and Carolina. He subdivided the parcels and, as noted in his ad in the 1872 City Directory, offered the newly created sites as "City Lots and Dwelling Houses."
Andre prospered. Though he had subdivided the block on the east side of Court Street between Charles and Carolina, he kept all the lots. And there, he built this magnificent home for himself and his family.
Today, there's no trace of Andre's home but thankfully, most of the buildings he built in Old Town survive, including three - pictured below - that remained in his family and passed to generations of his descendants. Among them was his great-great-grandson Tom Germain who formed a partnership with Alex de Parry of Ann Arbor Builders, whom he had known since college, to restore and manage them.
Each of these buildings will be featured in upcoming posts and we hope that you'll enjoy reading about them.
- Betsy de Parry, VP, Sales and Marketing