Downtown Plymouth

With a rich history and a friendly, small-town appeal, downtown Plymouth offers something exciting to do for everyone. You can enjoy dining out, shopping, watching a movie at the historic Penn Theatre, or relaxing in beautiful Kellogg Park. Downtown Plymouth is truly an extraordinary place for you to come and enjoy.

History of Plymouth

When our nation was young and before Michigan became a state, a tract of land was registered as follows: "The United States of America, by John Quincy Adams, President and Commissioner of the General Land Office to Luther Lincoln, Jr.", dated April 2, 1825. Thus, Plymouth was settled in 1825, was incorporated in 1867, and became a city in 1932.

It was George Starkweather, the first child born to settlers in present Plymouth Township, who later in 1871 recognized the importance of a railroad to a community and decided that the North Village of Plymouth would become the new center of town. He built a new store on the corner of Liberty and Starkweather and opened a road through his property for other new stores to locate. This area is presently known as "Old Village" or “Lowertown.”

The Plymouth Railroad Station was built in 1871 by the Pere Marquette Railroad. The only place in Michigan where railroad tracks go in all four directions, bringing goods and services from points east and west, and north and south through the Plymouth Community. Local residents may become frustrated when a breakdown on the train causes some of our railroad crossings to be blocked and traffic is at a standstill in the community.

Before the coming of the railroad, Plymouth was serviced by a toll road known as "Plymouth Plank Road" from 1850 to 1872. Planks were on the right side only for heavy-laden wagons going to market. Wagons coming back to Plymouth empty were to use the dirt side and there was no toll for the homeward trip.

The following stores and industries, while no longer standing, were at one time located in Old Village:

  • We think of the brewery which became a cheese factory. Dr. MVB Saunders of Detroit sold the spring water from here in 1893 for $1.00 per gallon. It was advertised as "positive specific for kidney and bladder troubles" and claimed to cure "after all other remedies failed".
  • Two cigars - the Plymouth Mail and Champion - were manufactured here by George Springer. He gave up cigar making when in 1912 he became Village Marshall - a one man police force.
  • The Ashery Plant existed from 1850 to 1867. Here, four men converted hardwood ashes into potash from which huge bars of hard yellow soap were made. In the spring, farmers and householders hauled winter ashes to the plant and received bars of soap in exchange. The bars were a foot in length, but shrunk to one-half that size when aged.
  • A thriving grist mill was built in 1850 by 32 men at a building bee. In 1921, Henry Ford built on this site a plant which manufactured taps for the River Rouge Plant in Detroit.
  • If you visit Greenfield Village today, you will see the Kensler Home which stood at Farmer and Mill Streets, and is not located in the Old Village area. There are several antique, art, hobby and specialty shops, along with several restaurants.

The Dunning Memorial Building near historic Kellogg Park is the home of the Plymouth Historical Museum. The museum's purpose, in the words of benefactor Margaret Dunning, is to provide for all who enter:

Knowledge of our Forefathers, enjoyment of our heritage, encouragement toward preservation, and inspiration to continued progress, for without a past, there is no future."

And what a glorious past Plymouth has had!

Company C of the 24th Michigan Regiment, which fought so bravely and so tragically at Gettysburg, was formed from Plymouth farm boys, gathered at Kellogg Park. The Alter Car Company manufactures automobiles here from 1914 to 1916. And, figuring most prominently in the history of the City, the Daisy Air Rifle Company began here in 1886 and earned for Plymouth the title of "Air Rifle Capital of the World".

How Plymouth Got Its Name

A meeting of the settlers was held on February 26, 1827, to select an official name for the community. The downtown are was known unofficially as "Podunk", and the north end of town at Main and Mill was known as "Joppa". At the meeting, the name "Peking" was proposed in honor of the Chinese city, since there was much interest in China in this country at the time. When the dust settled, the first choice was "LeRoy", wrote recording secretary A. B. Markham, but if that name has already been used, the second choice was "Plymouth", which was proposed for its historical ties to Plymouth, Massachusetts, the area from which some of the local settlers had come.

Territorial Governor Cass approved the name "Plymouth" in April, 1827, at which time Plymouth was established as a super township comprising the areas which are now Plymouth, Canton and Northville. The south part of the area - Township Two South - was referred to as "South Plymouth." It became a separate township named Canton in 1834, again in response to the interest in China.

Community centers developed at both ends of Plymouth Township during the mid-1800's. The Village of Plymouth was incorporated by an act of the State Legislature in March, 1867. That same year, another Legislative Act established the Village of Northville. This resulted in a significant loss of political power to Plymouth Township, which then had two competing village governments working through the same Township Board.

How Plymouth Township Was Divided into Two Parts

On a Saturday morning in March of 1898, some 100 residents of Plymouth Township met in the Opera House in the Village of Northville to decide whether Northville should set up its own township. Arguments for separation included the inconvenient travel distance required of Northville residents in dealing with the Township Board offices in Plymouth Village, and the preferential maintenance attention which the bridges in the south part of the township received, compared to the bridges in the north end of the township. The distance problem was supported by the fact that only 12 south-end residents attended the north-end meeting.

When the vote was taken, it was 40 to 30 in favor of splitting Northville Township off from Plymouth Township. This final split reduced Plymouth Township from its original size of 72 square miles, down to its present size of 15.9 square miles. The Township of Northville and Plymouth are the only Michigan case of half-sized townships resulting from a split rather than annexation by a City.

Visit Downtown Plymouth -
You Can Always Find Something Exciting To Do Year-Round!

There are so many things to do in downtown Plymouth. Please visit the City of Plymouth Website website to find out about upcoing events.