Northville celebrates 150 years since its founding as a village
Posted on 09/20/2017
History came to life at this year’s Heritage Festival as the City of Northville officially celebrated its 150th anniversary of becoming a village in 1867. (It became a city in 1955.) The Village of Northville came into being when early settlers moved north from neighboring Plymouth, which celebrates its 150th anniversary as a city this year.

The City was one of the earliest manufacturing hubs in southeast Michigan, making parts for vehicles and even planes. It was located on a well-connected transportation route that allowed travel by street cars, trains and motor cars. Northville was an innovative and industrious small town at the turn of the 19th century and continues to thrive today, in the 21st century.

On Friday, Sept. 15, third grade children from Northville schools marched in period customs in the annual Victorian Parade, accompanied by others who have an interest in portraying the Victorian culture of earlier times.

In the morning of Sept. 16, tours were held at the Water Wheel Centre as groups explored the inside of the former Ford valve plant which was converted into offices about 13 years ago. The building preserves the character of the original plant. It houses HKS Architects, inFORM Studio, both part of the tour, as well as Planet Fitness and other businesses. HKS is LEED certified – demonstrating that historic renovations can be environmentally friendly.

A historic commemoration was held in the afternoon in Town Square. Northville Mayor Ken Roth spoke about the history of the city, including notable events, business deals, and the people whose vision and actions made this City one that we can all be proud of. He noted that many street signs are named after the City’s influential people.

After the mayor’s speech, the Dodworth Saxhorn Band performed a rousing concert on percussion instruments built in the 1800s, with skits that gave another dimension to national events in the early 1900s.

In the late afternoon, Northville’s vintage team, The Eclipse, beat the Monitor Base Ball Club of Chelsea 4-3 on Ford Field. The Eclipse was formed in 2002 as the namesake of Northville’s first baseball club, which began playing ball in 1867.

An afternoon of events was held Sunday, Sept. 17, at Mill Race Village, with buildings open for tours, a duck race and a Crème Tea.

Banners throughout town marked the 150th anniversary and placards in store fronts told the story of early Northville. The Northville Chamber of Commerce managed the Heritage Festival activities and coordinated with Michele Fecht, of Northville, on historic 150th commemoration events.

There is a treasure trove of information about Northville history at Mill Race Village and the Northville District Library, which also has a special exhibit of Historic Northville and a copy of the Northville Record’s Centennial Edition published in 1969.

To learn more about the history of Northville, check out these resources:

Oral histories are housed at the Northville District Library and are accessible online.

Archives of the Northville Historical Society are housed at Mill Race Village.

Regional and Northville-specific historic information is maintained by the Northville Genealogical Society. View databases of historical information at the Northville District Library. See their online resources here.

Placards at each of the four corners at Main and Center told the history of that corner – previous buildings, gathering spaces and misfortunes such as fire.