If these walls could talk: 214 E. Jefferson

As we've been doing for some time now, we're once again on a "virtual" stroll through Culver in years past, and this time around we're still in the downtown area, though we've taken an interesting turn east onto Jeffer­son Street -- and if we're talking of the East Jefferson of years past, it's quite a departure from how it appears to­day. Compared to Main Street downtown, which would probably be fairly familiar in 2012 to a Culverite, say, of 1970, 1945, or even 1925 -- East Jefferson has (arguably) changed more dramatically than any other widely-used "commercial" area in town.

In your editor's young childhood, for example, the place was much wilder and woolier in appearance. Where to­day sits the lavish Culver Cove resort, a delapidated pier spiked into the lake from the grounds of the old grain elevator. Further south, stray cats hid out in a swampy patch of unkempt ground. To the north, the by-then ram­shackle former Ferrier lumber building was surrounded by weedy lots peppered with broken glass (and a handy pathway connected Jefferson with the alley to the north, easy access for kids walking or biking to the beach). And of course the hump of the railroad embankment -- prior to being leveled off in the early `80s -- obscured part of the lake view.

Last installment, we visited the southeast corner of Jefferson and Plymouth -- today's Elizabeth's Garden. In years past, just east of the building there would have been the former McClane and Co. livery stable, at what would become 214 E. Jefferson St. It's possible Nathanial Gan­dy's livery stable was located there starting in 1897, but we know that by 1906, McLane's was there. It was still listed as a livery in 1914, and Clifford Waite -- who ran several businesses, including a plumbing operation in to­day's Cafe Max south annex -- operated a garage there in the early 1920s.

By the World War II years, the Culver Lumber & Ce­ment Products yard briefly occupied the space. Across the street at 201 East Jefferson, the M.R. Cline Builders Store had resided since 1908, and Cline was a staple of the downtown business district, though always on the south side of Jefferson, except during those years in the 1940s.

Don Hand operated his soft water business at the site starting circa 1946, though by 1956 he had begun teach­ing and told the Culver Citizen he feared the quality of his service had dete­riorated as a result of juggling both occupa­tions. He thus sold the business to Earl Dean Overmyer in October, 1958, which of course started a long trend of soft water in Culver in the Overmyer name, which continues to to­day.

In 1952, the business took on the moniker of Overmyer Plumb­ing & Heating, and the business moved, to be briefly replaced that same year by Culver OK Rubber Welders.
Between 1955 and 1961, Lester and Jay Snyder operated a Chevrolet dealership at the site, though many Culverites will also re­member the business at its later home at 215 W. Jefferson, location today of Hammer's Ga­rage.

The old building at 214 East sat empty for many years, any in May, 1996 was one of many delapidated buildings in the area razed to make way for new growth.

The particulars of that growth included erection of the Bayside Condominiums, whose construction began in 2003 and was completed in 2005 by Construction Man­agement and Design of Plymouth.

Bayside, of course, occupies more than just the 214 East Jefferson locale, but extends over several lots, including the old Ferrier and Son lumberyard at 316 E. Jefferson.

The former 214 E. Jefferson isn’t occupied by condos proper, but by part of Bayside’s supporting com­plex, which includes the parking lot and storage building/garage for the property’s equipment.

For those wishing to continue the old tradition of cutting through that strip of build­ings for quick, convenient access to the town park and beach, today there’s that handy public walkway just behind (east of) Elizabeth’s Garden, before the Bayside property begins. Your editor makes use of it regularly when trekking downtown from home on the north side.

Much of the development in the area as it appears now, really be­gan with the sale of the old railroad right-of-way in the early 1980s.

At least by 1983, work had begun a block (or really just a street) north, at the eastern end of Washington Street, on what would become Culver's first condominium com­plex, the Harbor Condominiums. With development of the Culver Cove beginning in the late 1980s -- also made possible by the sale of the railroad right-of-way -- and the eventual construction of the Roberts home at the eastern end of Jefferson, and develop­ment of Bayside, what had once been a rather primitive-looking area would develop into the lav­ish appearance of the area today (one would not have thought 40 years ago, for example, of hold­ing this year's Culver wine fair along the lakefront outside today's Culver Cove, for example!).

Next time, we’ll flesh that out with a look at the old Fer­rier property and its illustrious history, and the old grain elevator and ice house properties on which the Culver Cove sits today.