Royal Oak Historical Tour, Page 2, D. Penney, 2001

Historical Tour


1. DETROIT ZOOLOGICAL PARK, Ten Mile and Lafayette Ave., 4. R; one block west of Woodward Ave. The 122 acre zoo, built in 1928, was the first zoo in America to be designed extensively with barless exhibits. Moats separate animals from visitors through the use of intricate simulated rockwork making the animals appear as they wouid in their natural habitats. There are over 3,000 species and varieties. The Penguinarium is three times larger than any other similar building in the world.

2. WATER TOWER, Ten Mile and Woodward Ave. The 1,500,000 gallon tower was built in 1927 to provide additional water to the then overloaded natural well system. The tower is still in use today. [there is no water in it as of 2001 - used for advertising the Zoo]

3. WENDLAND PARK, Bounded by Rhode Island, California and Delaware Streets. 0.79 Acres. First city park dedicated January 12, 1914 as Sunset Park. Name changed to Frank Wendland Park on April 19, 1926 in honor of a World War I Royal Oak soldier who gave his life in France.

*4. RAILROAD WATCHTOWER, Grand Trunk Western railroad crossing and Lincoln Ave. Constructed in 1927. One of the last 20 such towers in use today at which crossing men control traffic. [Gone!]

5. ELECTRIC SUBSTATION, East side of Main Street at Seventh Street Built in 1909-10, just south of the railroad tracks. Used by four electric companies. Taken over in 1915 by the Detroit Edison Company and remained in service until March, 1949. [Used for storage by Billings Feed Store]

6. HORSE BARNS, Southwest corner of Troy and Seventh Streets. Once used by the Detroit Creamery.

7. FIRE ALARM BUILDING, Northwest corner of Knowles and Sixth Streets. (after 1926) Control center for fire and police boxes. [Now a private residence]

8. FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, Northwest corner of Washinton and Seventh Streets. The first church built in Royal Oak was dedicated in 1843. In 1842 Sherman Williams donated several lots facing Washington as a site for this little white church. None of the original structure remains today.

9. ROYAL OAK WOMAN'S CLUB HOUSE, Southwest corner of Fourth and Pleasant Streets. The oldest building in the city. Built at Main and Third in 1839 as a Baptist Church, then used as a Gemman Lutheran Evangelical Church, it later became Royal Oak's second town hall and first city hall. It was moved twice and has been extensively remodeled. Some of the original basement beams are still exposed. The large stone fireplace in the auditorium has great historical significance because each stone had been used to mark the original lots in the old Royal Oak Cemetery.

10. HERMAN'S BAKERY, Main and Fourth Streets. Dondero Bakery in 1902. One of the two oldest buildings in the heart of the city.

11. FIELD'S DRESS SHOP, Southeast corner of Main and Fourth Streets. The other oldest building in the heart of the city. In 1907 the Royal Oak Savings Bank was founded. It operated in a section of this store. The bank closed its doors June 12,1931.

12. WASHINGTON SOUARE BUILDING, Fourth and Washington Streets, NW Corner. In 1928 Royal Oak's skyscraper was built on the site of an apple orchard. Six stories in the main section and the first elevator in the city. The first hospital, Royal Oak General, was later housed on the fourth floor.

*13. GLASPHALT PARKING LOT, Hamilton Court, Southeast corner Farmers' Market. On October 16, 1972, the municipal parking lot was covered with Glasphalt. Covering an area of 50,889 sq. ft., it is the largest surface ever paved with this material. The Royal Oak Beautification Council coordinated the project and donated $6,000 for materials (funds earned from its recycling program).

14. WOOD FAMILY HOME, 211 South Knowles at Second Street. Like homes of 100 years ago. Now owned by Mrs. Anna Hilzinger [presently used as a mental health office]. The house was moved from Third Street between Troy and Williams Streets.

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