Through the Years - a Photographic History of Center Line, Michigan

A block-by-block photographic tour of Center Line as it appeared in days gone by.
PART 1 |

Unless noted otherwise, all photos are from the collection of
Captions and text by
Mike Grobbel

Click on any thumbnail photo below to view a larger sized image of it, which will open in a new window. In order to view most of the larger images at their full size, you will also have to position your cursor on the image and then click on the "Enlarge" button in the lower right corner of the image. Close the new window to return to this page.

Click here to view a 2004 street map of Center Line, which will open in a new window.

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10 Mile Road west of Van Dyke

Center Line Municipal Garage, northwest corner of Sherwood and 10 Mile Rd. (ca. 1970s)

Busch School, north side of 10 Mile, between Sherwood and Liberal Ave

Looking nowthwest from the corner of Landau and 10 Mile (mid 1960's)

Kroger Grocery Store, located on 10 Mile Rd. across from the old City Hall (mid 1960s)

Center Line City Hall as viewed from the northwest corner of 10 Mile and Van Dyke (late 1950's). The building to the left was Ben Jackson's old office building which used to stand on the NE corner of 10 and Van Dyke.

Aerial view looking southeast showing the vicinity of 10 Mile between Lawrence and Van Dyke (early 1970s)

Busch High School Band


Van Dyke, south of 10 Mile Road

Van Dyke looking north towards
10 Mile Rd. from Edward Ave. (ca. 1960)


Van Dyke looking north towards
10 Mile Rd. from Edward Ave. (June 2006)


Van Dyke between 10 Mile Road and Warren Boulevard

Children pose in a wagon on the farm at the northeast corner of 10 Mile Rd. and Van Dyke (ca. 1920s)

Family members outside the farmhouse at the northeast corner of 10 Mile Rd. and Van Dyke; note the well hand pump and also the streetcar tracks which ran down the east side of Van Dyke. (ca. 1920s)

The "Midwest Unclaimed Freight" store at the northeast corner of 10 Mile Rd. and Van Dyke (ca. late 1960s). The "Tip Top Market" formerly operated in this building. Prior to that, Ben Jackson moved his office building kitty-corner across the street to make way for Louis Cohen, who operated a market here that started out as a fruit and vegetable shed.

Daytime and nighttime views of Homer Hazelton's Self-Serve "Center Line Drugs" (ca. 1960s).
Homer's drugstore business originally started out in the Wolf building at the NE corner of Warren Blvd. and Van Dyke.


Van Dyke between 10 Mile Road and Qualmann

Grissom's used car lot at the northwest corner of 10 Mile and Van Dyke (ca. 1950)

Grissom's new car Studebaker dealership at the corner of Qualmann Ave. (ca. 1950)

Newly constructed shopping center at the northwest corner of 10 Mile and Van Dyke (early 1970s)


Van Dyke between Qualmann and Weingartz

The William LeRoy livery and blacksmith shop as it appeared circa 1911 (near right) and 1920 (far right). Note the electric street car tracks that ran along the east side of Van Dyke. The house at the far left in the near right photo was built in 1910 on the northwest corner of Qualmann Ave. and sometime in the late 1920's it was moved to its present location on Weingartz Avenue, immediately west of the Library.

Johnny's Recreation pool hall (far left photo) and the entire block is shown in the near left photo, which was taken in the spring of 1962. Jerry Schoenherr's Center Bar was at 25117 Van Dyke and had been the location of the Center Line Drug Store back in the early 1920's. The Drug Store was the first location of the Center Line Post Office from its establishment in 1921 until 1928 when it moved to 25306 Van Dyke, just south of old St. Clement Church.

Vincent Grobbel is wearing his costume and standing in the front passenger seat as his clown car entertains parade-goers along Van Dyke (mid 1950s).

The 1945 photo at far left shows the Robinson Lumber Co. building and its next door neighbor, the Liberty Theater (photo courtesy of the Water Winter Wonderland website). The Liberty Theater was built in 1927 and continued operation into the 1950's. It later housed Skelly's Roller Skating Rink. The photo at near left shows these buildings as they appeared in the mid to late 1960's. The C.F. Gibbs Lumber Co. had taken over Robinson's building and the Skating Rink was now the home of Grissom's Collision shop. The William LeRoy blacksmith shop once stood at about the same spot as the lumberyard, which was at 25135 Van Dyke.


Van Dyke between Weingartz and Wiegand

Michael Weingartz and family are shown on their 30 acre homestead farm, which was located on Van Dyke, across from St. Clement Church. This photo was taken around 1895 or 1896 and the couple on the left is Michael Weingartz and his wife Gertrude (Miller) Weingartz. The woman on the far right is Barbara (Schmitt or Smith) Weingartz (wife of their son, Joseph Weingartz). The child holding Gertrude's hand is Barbara and Joseph's son, Michael Weingartz (b. 1892) and the other child is their son, Christopher Weingartz (b. 1894). Christopher's son is the Roman Catholic priest, Fr. Francis Weingartz. (photo identifications provided by Elizabeth (Hessell) Malburg, granddaughter of Joseph and Barbara Weingartz).

This photo at right shows the three buildings on this block as they appeared in the spring of 1959. The southern-most building at 25211-25215 Van Dyke was built prior to 1914 and in the 1930s it was owned by the Fiore family. Prior to about 1938, the top floor was used as a dance hall. It was then converted into three apartments, one large one across the back and two smaller ones at the front. From 1939 until 1949, the US Post office was located on the first floor in the southern store-front. The city library was the next tenant and when it was moved to the nearby Recreation Building, it was replaced by the cleaners shown in the photo. The northern store front was a restaurant for most of these years. The next building to the north was the office of Dr. James Bryce, M.D. The large building north of the doctor's office at 25239 Van Dyke was the "Automotive Shop" at the time this photo was taken. Previously it had been the Kroger grocery store and before that it had housed Wiegand's Garage.
As part of Center Line's urban renewal project, the eastern-most 300 feet of Weingartz and Wiegand Avenues were vacated and a new street was built that took their traffic to the north, ending at Engleman Ave. This "vest-pocket park" (near right) was built on part of the vacated Weingartz Ave. right of way and both the new street and park were named after Paul G. Hazen. As the June 2006 photo on the far right shows, the park has been renovated over the intervening 35+ years since the first photo was taken.

Paul Gordon Hazen was the son of Adelbert G. Hazen (Center Line Mayor, 1954-1960) and his wife, the former Leona Borsekowski. Paul was born on Sept. 7, 1944 and in 1965 he was drafted into the U.S. Army. On Dec. 4, 1965, SP4 Paul Hazen began a tour of duty in South Vietnam that ended on Sept. 23, 1966 when he died of multiple fragmentation wounds suffered during hostile action. He was the first Center Line soldier to die in the Vietnam war.

According to this source, three other Center Line residents also died in Vietnam:

Sgt. Daniel Francis Cahill, US Army, born Nov. 16, 1947, died Feb. 24, 1969
Gerald Eugene Butler, US Marine Corps, born June 11, 1950, died Dec. 20, 1969
Vaun Arlen Gorbe, US Army, born Jan. 7, 1947, died Oct. 5, 1970


Van Dyke between Warren Blvd. and Ritter

The photo post card at left was taken circa 1914 looking north from about the middle of this block.

The photo at right was taken from about the same location sometime during the 1930s.


The post card photo at near right was taken circa 1914 looking south from a point just north of the intersection with present-day Ritter Ave. (from the collection of Mike Grobbel)

The photo at far right was taken in 1922 from about the spot where the horse and buggy stood in the photo taken eight years earlier.

Examining the full size version of the circa 1914 photo reveals that further down on the left (east) side of Van Dyke (then known as Main St.) is a Detroit United Railway streetcar that is parked in the turn-around loop at the end of the line. The interurban streetcar line to Detroit began just south of present-day Warren Blvd. and the utility poles that supported the electrical cables that supplied the streetcars are also visible alongside the tracks. The farmhouse and buildings behind and to the left of the streetcar were located at the northeast corner of Ten Mile Road and Van Dyke. The first building down the right (west) side of Van Dyke from the camera would later house the Post Office from about 1939 until 1949 (this building also housed at various times the city library, a clothes cleaners and a restaurant). The second building down the right was William LeRoy's livery and blacksmith shop. In the late 1920's Robinson's Lumber Co. (later Gibbs) and the Liberty movie theater would be built on that site.


The intersection of Van Dyke and Ritter Avenues as it appeared in the 1960s. The photo at far left was taken in 1961 when regular gas was only 20.9 cents per gallon and premium gas could be had for 25.9 cents per gallon!


The building on the southeast corner of Ritter Ave was originally a gas station which was owned at one time by Johnny Cavacece, but by the mid-1960's it had become a used car lot. Just south of that was a shoe repair shop, followed by Wolf's Hardware store at 25152 Van Dyke. The adjacent dark brick building was known as the "Ben Wolf Block" building. Bernard "Ben" Wolf built this building in 1921 and moved his family into the upstairs apartment. The lower level storefronts were occupied over the years by Ben's first hardware store and other businesses like Detroit Edison, Brickley Dairy, Homer's Drugs and a real estate office.

After the urban renewal claimed this block, Ben Wolf's heirs built this new "Wolf's Hardware" on the
site of their previous two stores. Today this building houses a Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership.

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Visit these pages for more information about
a) Wesley Arnold, who collected these old photos and has Mike Grobbel, who supplied the captions for these old photos and created these web pages
the History of the City of Center Line at the Center Line municipal web site

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Created: 29 Nov 2004; Last Revised: 11 Aug 2007