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A walking tour of historic Vicksburg on its 150th

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Village of Vicksburg, the Vicksburg Historical Society is delighted to invite you to participate in a walking tour of your historic village. What better way to help celebrate this milestone in the history of Vicksburg than to gather your family and friends and take a leisurely walk through town. The material in this article is an update of a pamphlet published by the Vicksburg Historical Society in 2000. Park and start your tour at the Depot Museum. Use the map on to guide your tour.

  1. Union Depot, built in 1904 by the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway.
  2. Directly south across the tracks stood a hotel known as the Junction House, Adams House, or Railroad Hotel, which served railroad personnel, traveling salesmen and visitors to Vicksburg. It was a two-story brick building and included a restaurant. It was torn down in the 1970s.
  3. To the right, built in 1900, was the original site of the Eclipse Governor Company, which manufactured governors for steam engines. At its peak the company employed 60 men.
  4. The Vine Street Market sits on the original site of the Dentler Bagger Company, which manufactured parts for threshing machines. After moving to another location in town, the Dentlers partnered with the Kimble family to produce steam powered farm tractors.
  5. R&D Automotive sits on the site of the former McMaster’s Opera House and Skating Rink, built in the mid-1880’s. The Opera House stage held many types of entertainment over the years, including vaudeville performances, agricultural exhibitions and concerts.
  6. Prairie Ronde Artist Gallery occupies the site of the first frame building in Vicksburg, built in 1836 as a general store. The current brick building dates from the 1880’s.
  7. John Vickers erected a grist mill on the Portage Creek near the intersection of Prairie and Michigan Avenue in 1831. The Village of Vicksburg developed around this mill site, which is listed on the State Register of Historic Places.
  8. Vicksburg District Library. You can see the modern addition located to your left on Michigan Avenue, but the Fanny Bair Library, listed on the State Register of Historic Places, is just around the corner on Maple Street. Built in 1902 by Mrs. Bair, specifically as a library, the building was very modern for its time, being equipped with electric lights, central heat, brass chandeliers and a fireplace.
  9. On the southeast corner of Michigan and Maple stood the Maple Street School, a two-story brick building which served all grades from 1869 until 1909 when it was replaced by the building you will see at location 10. As you cross the intersection of Maple and Main, look to the left for a good view of the United Methodist Church, No. 11 on your map.
  10. Vicksburg Community School’s Administration Building was built in 1909, to replace the Maple Street School. It housed grades K through 12 until a new high school was built on Highway Street in 1952, then served as an elementary school for many years.
  11. United Methodist Church, constructed in 1870. The church is listed on the State Register of Historic Sites, and features beautiful stained-glass windows.
  12. On the southwest corner of Main and Washington sits Silo Chic, the former location of Corporation Hall, Vicksburg’s jail, fire department and village offices. It was built in the 1880’s and originally housed a grocery.
  13. Just west of Taco Bob’s sits the old Joy and Koons photography studio, built in 1901, at 110 West Washington. S. D. Joy and William Koons left behind many of our most compelling views of early Vicksburg.
  14. Vicksburg’s Main Street retail district contains many buildings dating from the mid-to late 1800’s.
  15. Constructed in 1872 as the McElvain Hotel, this building served as the Vicksburg Community Center until purchased by the McElvain House LLC. Owned by Chris Moore, this private building now houses Paper City Development offices. Four hotels once thrived in Vicksburg.
  16. Just south of the railroad tracks on North Main Street is the former site of the Franklin Community Hospital. Once the home of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Franklin, the hospital served the needs of the community until 1969, when it was replaced by a modern facility on Boulevard Street, west of town. That’s now Turning Leaf Behavioral Health Services.
  17. Beautiful Sunset Lake can be viewed through the property of the Best/Molineaux/Wunderlin home at 101 North Street.
  18. Adam’s Garage and Hudson Dealership once occupied the old block commercial building at 124 North St. The area you are now in was once filled with warehouses, mills, manufacturing concerns and other businesses that shipped products via rail to all parts of the country.
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