Old Town Saginaw, a 12-block area on the National Register of Historic Places, was first settled in 1822 when the U.S. Military built a fort where Court and Hamilton Streets now intersect. A year later, the fort was abandoned, but fur traders and farmers took over the buildings and a small settlement took root.
Between the 1860's and1890's, a lumber boom resulted in money flowing into the area and the construction of elegant buildings in the Italianate, Queen Anne and Georgian Revival styles.
Even after the lumber bubble burst, the area survived, but by the turn of the 21st century, many of the old buildings were empty and/or in need of repair.
As the Great Recession ended, a quiet resurgence in Old Town Saginaw took hold. And Saginaw native Tom Germain, who now lives in California, decided it was time to restore buildings that had been in his family for years.
In the summer of 2014, Tom and his former college roommate, Ann Arbor Builders' owner Alex de Parry, acquired ownership of the first property from multiple family members and formed a partnership to restore it.
The P. C. Andre Building
Located at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Court Street, the P. C. Andre building was originally constructed in the 1870's by former Saginaw mayor Peter C. Andre.
Five retail spaces were located within the building and architectural details graced its exterior, as shown in one of the earliest known photographs.
But all semblance of its vintage was lost when, in 1953, cornices, brackets and other defining architectural details were removed and the building was covered with metal panels to give it a "modern" look for a new anchor tenant, a Rexall drug store.
As shown below, the building, in 2014, looked nothing like the original.
Most exciting - and most challenging - was restoring the exterior to its original facade, including replacing the original cornices and bracketry.
And exterior renovation came with a surprise. As metal panels were removed (photo below), we discovered a mural, on the Michigan Street side, that had been painted when Hinds sold out to Reynold Pankonin and it became the Weinberg-Pankonin Drug Store in 1946, before Rexall moved in.
On the Court Street side, under the metal siding, was the name "Hinds and Weinberg," the drug store that operated in the space from 1921 through 1946.
Determined to restore both badly damaged murals, we turned to long time Saginaw resident and artist Jim Fives who instantly recognized them as the work of prolific Saginaw artist Ike Kozak.
Jim used paint chips to match the original colors and set about recreating the murals, much to the delight of many Saginaw residents who remembered them from their childhoods.
Inside, extensive interior work transformed the spaces.
The exterior facade and interior retail spaces were completed in September 2015.
Today, businesses are thriving in the building, including the only business, Bauer's Jewelry, that leased space when renovation began. Remarkably, Bauer's first opened in 1891 in the very space it leases today...and it has operated there continuously except for a 20-year period between 1952 and 1972.
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