Preserve America Community:
Flat Rock, Michigan
Flat Rock, Michigan, (population 10,000), a suburb of Detroit, was first recognized for its natural beauty in 1798, when a French priest referred to “Grosse Roche” - an outcropping of limestone rock on the Huron River. Solomon Sibley purchased land there in 1818 and sold it to Michael and Jacob Vreeland in 1824. Subsequently the villages of Vreelandt and Smooth Rock were laid out.
The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 brought large numbers of settlers to Michigan. By 1828, a handful of stores, mills, and 250 permanent settlers occupied the area that later became Flat Rock. The community continued to grow in the following decades, although it remained rural in character.
This changed in the 1920s when Henry Ford built the Ford Motor Company Lamp Factory here. Hydroelectric generators and a water filtration plant brought light and water to the village of Flat Rock, which was incorporated one month before the first lights were produced in 1925. For the next three decades factory and village grew together, and Flat Rock became a city in 1965.
A few years ago, faced with the imminent demolition of the 1896 Flat Rock Hotel, the community moved the building to a location on “Memory Lane,” a collection of historic buildings. The hotel was restored, preserving its pressed tin ceiling in the front entrance hall and an Art Deco bar installed in the hotel in the 1930s. A Greek Revival house attached to the rear of the hotel that dates to the 1830s was also moved.
In addition to the Flat Rock Hotel and the attached house, the Memory Lane complex includes the 1874 Langs-Wagar House, home to a Civil War veteran and mayor, which was moved in 1999; the Stofflet Carriage House, built in the 19th century and moved in 1995; and the Cornelius G. Munger General Store, built in 1875 and moved in 1976. Special exhibitions focusing on the history of the area are presented each month at the complex.
For more information
City of Flat Rock: www.flatrockmi.org
Posted March 9, 2009