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.

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.

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Van Dyke between Wiegand and Engleman

The building on the north corner of Wiegand Ave. was built by the Center Line State Savings Bank in 1920. The bank failed during the Depression and the building was later occupied by the Michigan State Police. In 1958, it became the warehouse for J & J Vending, a wholesale distributor of tobacco and candies that was owned by the Jenuwine brothers, Ed, John, Lee and Jim. Next to them, to the north, was Follo Jewelers, then Hoste Bros. Electric and then Celane Bar and the Center Line Lanes. The left and center photos were probably taken sometime in the early 1960s. The photo at right was taken in about 1945 and it shows young Suzie and Barb Meredith standing in the middle of Wiegand Ave. near their home. Their home was close to the intersection with Van Dyke and from the photo, it is clear that back then, Wiegand Avenue was only paved for a short distance west from the intersection. Suzie and Barb were the daughters of Center Line Policeman Leon Meredith (photo courtesy of Suzie (Meredith) Wheeler).

The image scanned from a newspaper photo on the left was taken in the 1940s looking south down Van Dyke from Engleman and it shows
Ma Zott's Center Line Recreation on the right (later the Celane Bar and Center Line Lanes). The 1970s photo on the right shows the Chatham grocery store and other business that were built on the site of this block as a result of urban renewal.


Van Dyke between Ritter and Engleman

St. Clement Parish constructed a wooden-framed church in 1854 at the southeast corner of what is now Van Dyke and Engelman (shown at center-right in the circa 1870 painting above, with the Michael Weingartz cabin shown across the street). Prior to then, the business establishments in the area were all located at "Kunrods Corner", which was named after a Mr. Kunrod who ran a saloon on the corner of 10 Mile and Sherwood Roads. On the northeast corner, John Buechel had a 10 acre plot of land on which he established a General Merchandise Store. However, once the St. Clement Parish was built on Van Dyke, it was only a short time before the Buechel Store was physically moved to a parcel adjacent to the new church. Once at the new location, it was expanded to provide living quarters upstairs for the Buechel family and in later years it was remodeled and a brick facing was added.

The photo at left shows John Buechel's General Merchandise Store and some of their customers ca. 1901 (photo from the June 28, 1961 "Tri-City Progress"). The undated photo at right was taken inside Buechel's store. At left is his son, Raymond. John is at right and his wife Dora is at right-center.


Two views of this block taken about 25 years apart (left photo 1932, right photo late 1950s). Another view of this block looking southeast from near the southwest corner of Engleman and Van Dyke (late 1950s).


The photo at left was taken in about 1958 and the one on the right in the spring of 1959 after St. Clement parish had purchased the land and buildings so they could be torn down to make way for the new St. Clement Church. The left photo shows all five buildings that made up what was known as the "Buechel Block". The northernmost (far left) storefront was Richard H. Tiech's Center Line Bakery in the late 1930s and early 1940s; in the 1950s it housed Renaud's Shoemaker Shop. The next shop's tenants included the Center Line Post Office (1928-1939), a chocolate candy shop and later Max Remsing's Cleaners. Next door was Dismore's Meat Market and next to it was the Buechel General Merchandise store and residence, which by the 1950s had changed hands and was now Rivard's Grocery store, being owned and operated by Aurelius "Real" Rivard. Later, Ross Harris would move his "Ross' Barber Shop" into this building from it's prior location across the street. When this block of buildings was torn down in 1959, he relocated his barber shop to the west side of Van Dyke just south of Helen Ave. on a parcel he purchased form Frank Lazoen. The last building in this row was Gus Miller's Tavern. South of the tavern was a small parking lot and then a small building which was Heck's Barber Shop. Finally, at the northeast corner of Ritter was the gas station which in the 1940's and 50s had been a Texaco dealer and by the late 1950s had become a Kayo brand dealer. By the late 1950s,"Spence" Connell had relocated his Texaco gas station to Stephens Rd. and Van Dyke and the old building had become a Kayo gas station. When this photo was taken in the mid 1960s, premium gas had risen to 30.9 cents per gallon! At 7:15 p.m. on Aug. 14, 1966, the Kayo gas station was the scene of a spectacular two-alarm gasoline tanker fire. Flames from the burning tanker rose more than 100 feet into the air, but the firefighters were able to bring it under control within one hour and prevent damage to the gas staion building. Rick Protz writes that he and his friend, Paul Stanczak, were at the gas station filling their bicycle tires with air when the truck caught fire. In his words, "There was some yelling and we could see the fire start underneath and the thought that the world would come to an end entered my mind..... I didn't think I could ride away from it fast enough. I got away as far as St Clement's before it really lit up.....and we all waited for an explosion that didn't come..... just towering fire with a sound like a jet engine at times".


Van Dyke between Engleman and Harding

A late 19th century view of Van Dyke looking south from about Harding Avenue. The Mathias Miller homestead is on the left and St. Clement Church can be seen in the distance.

Mathias Miller and his wife Elizabeth operated a saloon in their homestead around the turn of the century. The photo on the left appears to pre-date the one on the right by a few years. The "Tivoli Beer" sign on the porch column in the left photo indicates that this picture was taken after the founding of that brewery in 1898. The Tivoli Brewing Company was located on Mack Ave. in Detroit and later produced the "Altes" brand of beer. Center Line had its own brewery for a brief period during the 1930s after the repeal of Prohibition. The Walker Brewing Co. built their brewery at Alex Ave. & Ten Mile Rd. Today that building houses the ABC Appliance Warehouse Store.


Van Dyke between Engleman and Gronow

The photo at left shows this block as it appeared in the spring of 1962. Shuster's Hardware Store occupied the lower floor of the building at the northwest corner of Engleman and Van Dyke for many years. The upstairs was the location of the first Center Line telephone exchange, which cost $250,000 to construct and began operation at noon on Saturday May 19, 1928. After Michigan Bell decided to build a stand-alone building on 10 Mile Rd. between Landau and Godin Avenues, that upstairs area was converted to apartments. The commercial space to the north of Schusters at one time was occupied by Thompkin's Ice Cream parlor but by the time this photo was taken, a gift shop was operating there. During World War II, this store front was occupied by a dress shop which was operated by Rose and Roger Martin, who lived in the apartment above. Next door to the north was Vic's Bar, which was owned by Victor and Claire Braun and who purchased it in 1940 from the prior owner, Charles Gates. The next storefront was occupied by Detroit Edison during the 1950s and 60s. At the corner of Gronow Ave. was Geitzen's Mobilgas service station. Urban renewal cleared this block for the construction of the Bodega Steak House restaurant (shown in photo at right taken in the mid 1970s). This site became a Rinke Toyota cars sales lot in the late 1980s.


Van Dyke between Gronow and Voerner (west side)

The intersection of Gronow and Van Dyke had the Gietzen Mobilgas Station on the southwest corner and Van's Drug Store (previously Lefevre's Pharmacy) on the northwest corner (1950).

Van's Drug Store.

The now-vacant drug store, Robinson's Dept. Store, the steam bath and Berk's 5 and 10 Cent Store and Pride Cleaners are shown in this spring 1962 photo.

This was originally the Dueweke family home; in the 1940s, it became the William Sperlich Funeral Parlor. At the time of this photo in the late 1960s, it was a steam bath.


Van Dyke between Central and Dale

25616 Van Dyke - This building housed a duck decoy woodcarver's shop prior to its demolition in 1959. This building may have also housed a clothes cleaner/tailor shop during the 1930s. The house with the darker exterior to the north was at one time the home of the Bash family.

Rear of 25616 Van Dyke before
demolition (ca. 1958)

Looking south towards the
corner of Central prior to
demolition (March 1959)

View from across the
street (March 1959)


Van Dyke between Voerner and Dale (west side)

Smitty's Bar and White's Laundry (spring of 1959)

The Midas Touch Lounge at 25615 Van Dyke and the northwest corner of Voerner Ave. (mid 1970s)


Van Dyke between Dale and Helen (west side)

Lazoen's Hay and Feed was founded in 1933 by Frank Lazoen and his brother-in-law, Maurice VanDenBussche. Their new business occupied the building that was once Richard Giff's Livery Stable on Van Dyke. They moved to this new building at the corner of Helen Ave. in 1938. Sometime during the 1960s, Lazoen's relocated to 26549 Lawrence Ave.



Groesbeck Flowers at 26662 Van Dyke (mid 1960s)

Ford Funeral Home and the AAA Office on the east side of Van Dyke between Bernice and McKinley Avenues (mid 1960s).

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Visit these pages for more information about
a) Wesley Arnold, who collected these old photos and has his own local history web site.
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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Webmaster: Mike Grobbel
Created: 29 Nov 2004; Last Revised: 26 April 2020