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Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

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Preserve America Community:
Wyandotte, Michigan

TThe area that is now Wyandotte, Michigan, (population 28,000) was inhabited in the early 1700s by French farmers and Wyandott Indians, who lived along the banks of the Detroit River until 1818, when treaties forced them to leave. The French had established a fort at Detroit to extend its fur trade empire, and Wyandott Indians had joined them at their new outpost. With the success of the fort, French settlers were granted tracts of land for farms. A band of Wyandott Indians built a village known as Maquaqua and fished the downriver area. It became the nucleus of the original site of Wyandotte.

Major John Biddle built a “gentleman’s farm” on 2,200 acres in 1835 and sold the property to Detroit industrialist Eber Ward in 1854. Ward platted the village of Wyandotte and built the Eureka Iron Works. Both the company and the town initially flourished, but falling market prices for iron and the exhaustion of the supply of wood for fuel led to the company’s decline and final closing in 1892.

As Eureka’s fortunes waned, the loss was offset by the rise of the chemical industry, whose leaders saw the value of salt brine located below the ground. Shipbuilding was also an important industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and Wyandotte was home to smaller companies as well. Today, Wyandotte has become a residential, rather than an industrial, town and has incorporated parts of areas once known as Glenwood, Maquaqua, and South Detroit.

Recently the community restored the Oak Street Fire Station, built in 1927 but abandoned after a new facility was built nearby. Today the building houses a health services company, combining its historic character with modern functionality.

Other historic structures include the 1896 Ford-MacNichol House, listed on the National Register and home to the Wyandotte Historical Museum. Adjacent to the property is the restored Marx House, built in 1862.

Wyandotte has expanded its two-day Heritage Days festival to a year-long celebration with special events each month, including lectures, tours, and trips to historic sites.

For more information

City of Wyandotte: www.wyandotte.net

Wyandotte Historical Museum: www.wyandotte.net/historical-museum

Posted March 9, 2009

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