Bay City Rollers



On a side trip from Ann Arbor, we found ourselves in a small community in Northern Michigan on the shore of Lake Huron named Bay City. Long before “S_A_T_U_R_D_A_Y NIGHT” became a pop anthem, the lumber barons of Bay City, Michigan were the movers, shakers and rollers of the region.

Originally inhabited by First Nations Chippewa Tribe, it was an ideal place for settlement with towering Pine and Oak trees, with both a river (the Saginaw) and shoreline of Lake Huron providing abundant sources of food and fresh water.The first non native settler arrived in 1831, Leon Trombley built a small log cabin on the east bank of the Saginaw River.Bay City was established in 1837 however it wasn’t until 1865 when it was officially incorporated as a city.

Michigan lumber played a large part in the rebuilding of Chicago after the Great Fire, as well as supplying many mid-western American cities with lumber.By 1844 Bay City was called the “Lumber Capitol of the World”. In its heyday about 100 wood milling, lumbering and shipbuilding facilities dotted the shoreline of the Saginaw River south of Bay City.A handful of men (lumber barons) made vast fortunes in the local industries. Men such as Charles H. Hackley from Muskegon contributed to the social fabric of the area by building public libraries, art galleries and hospitals.Industrialists around Bay City were eager to show off their wealth and position.Lumber fortunes made near Bay City were later directed into the emerging automobile industry in Detroit in the early 1920’s.

Many of the grand houses of Bay City are located along Center Avenue. The wide thoroughfare boasts a comprehensive variety of architectural styles including Romanesque revival, Greek revival, Georgian revival, Arts & Crafts, Queen Anne and Mid-Century Modern among others.

Some of the period houses we observed in Bay City were:


*Mann House-George & Maria Mann. George Mann a lawyer & secretary for the Bay City Brick, Tile & Terra Cotta Mfg. Co. Stick Victorian style.

 (Check out the restoration of this magnificent home in 2007)

*Tupper House-Dr. Virgil and Mary Tupper. Dr. Virgil was a GP and surgeon and one of the founders of the Mercy Hospital

In Bay City. Their house was designed and built by architects in the Georgian Revival style.

*Turner House-Joseph Turner of Turner Lumber Co. A fine example of Queen Anne Style.

*Bradley House-Frederick Bradley son of Lumber magnate. Classic Victorian style built in 1887.

*Chesbrough House-Fremont Chesbrough, he incorporated the Romanesque style into his own residence.


And just in case you were wondering, yes, Bay City is where the Scottish pop band takes their name from.