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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Corner at the Center

The northwest corner of Division Avenue and Fulton Street, at the geographic center of Grand Rapids and now the site of the new multimillion-dollar Herpolsheimer department store, has played a prominent role in the history of this city.

First public record of the land occurred in 1831 when it was included in the sale of 72 acres of land to Louis Campau by the federal government for $90. A year later a feud with an adjoining landowner prompted Louis Campau to sell the property to his brother Toussant for $100.

After platting the land in 1833, Toussant sold the land back to his brother Louis for $$1,500. Campau erected the community’s first Catholic Church on the site in 1837.

Four years later the property was sold to the first Congregational Church Society, thus becoming the first home of Park Congregational Church.

In 1869 the property was sold to the Lewis Porter family for $12,000, and the building used as a store until destroyed by fire in 1872.

Five years later Porter built the Porter block which housed some of Grand Rapids most colorful institutions. Among these was Springer’s saloon, famous the country over for its fried oysters.

A. W. Rush & Sons, architects and tenants in the building, remodeled it in 1888 for the installation of a passenger elevator. At the same time stoves used for heating each office were removed in favor of a central heating plant.

The Edward Lowe Family purchased the property for $225,000 in 1909. The Herpolsheimer Company purchased the property for $550,000 from the Edward Lowe estate in 1947 and consolidated it with other properties to form the site of the new department store.

Grand Rapids Press, November 12, 1949, page 14.



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