Bud’s Bar, part of Schoolcraft’s history

People and buildings have much in common, if you think about it. Each has a beginning and an end in this world… with some having longer life spans than others. Like people, buildings can have a façade, serve multiple roles during their life, and have periods of prosperity and hardship.

An old friend, Bud in Schoolcraft recently came out of retirement once again to join the local community. Bud’s Bar continues the tradition of this building’s history of serving the local community as a “public house”, an establishment for gathering and enjoying alcoholic beverages and meals.

When the original wooden structure was built in 1841 by Alanson Beals, the two-story, wood-framed “Beals House” sat on what was then the main (dirt road) thoroughfare for Kalamazooans to travel to the Detroit-Chicago Road in southern St. Joseph County. The Detroit-Chicago Road was a military road built over the old Great Sauk Indian Trail to connect Detroit with Fort Dearborn in Chicago.

A few years later, the building became “The Schoolcraft House”. In 1844, it witnessed the opening of the Kalamazoo and Three Rivers Plank Road section in Schoolcraft. Now, stagecoaches and freight wagons began moving through the village on this new wooden road. The four-horse stagecoach would pull up to the Schoolcraft House to load and unload passengers and drop off and pick up the mail twice a day. The tin horn announcing the its arrival could be heard all over town.

This wooden structure was renowned in the area for having a two-story “privy”, an outhouse, whose remarkable engineering has been lost to time! During the Civil War years, the Schoolcraft House served the cause by hosting money-raising activities. The village youth raised money for medicines by holding plays and dances in the hotel’s ballroom. Each Memorial Day since 1868, village and surrounding prairie citizens gather to honor their dead who served in the military. The first years’ services were held at seven in the evening when the shops closed and farm chores were completed. All met at the Schoolcraft House on Grand Street and marched down to the Burial Ground for the ceremony.

In the early 1870’s, plans were drawn up to erect a new three-story brick building in place of the Schoolcraft House wooden structure, and move the existing wood-framed building behind it to serve as a dining room and kitchen; with the upper floor being turned into a ballroom. This building was to be named the “Troxel House” (later to be known as the “Commercial House”) and continued to house overnight travelers passing through the area.

Since the mid-20th century, when the third story was removed from the brick structure, “Bud’s Bar” has utilized the old hotel’s reception room to host the thirsty and hungry, and those seeking a relaxing time. Welcome back, Bud!

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