Historic Royal Oak

Chronology of Royal Oak

1819 - First land entry in future Royal Oak Township, Jan. 23.

1826 - Establishment of the Royal Oak Township Cemetery in the triangle between the Niles Road (Main Street, Livernois) and the Paint Creek Trail (Rochester Road), south of 12 Mile Road.

1830 - Joseph Chase appointed first Postmaster, Jan. 21.
1831 Orson Starr family arrives in Township.
1834 Charter granted to Detroit & Pontiac Railroad, March 7.
1838 Plat of Royal Oak Village recorded, March 2.

First Railroad, Detroit to Pontiac, run by horsepower for a short period.
First Post Office, Postmaster Moses Johnson.
First merchandising business, run by Simonson & Fish; location near railroad depot.
A Methodist Church founded.
1839 Hotel built by James B. Simonson, called Railroad Exchange. Stage coach terminal for stages coming in from Rochester, Romeo and points beyond.
A Baptist Church founded, built first church building at Main Street at 3rd.

1841 - New chair and furniture factory.
1842 Congregational Church established, Main Street near 3rd, Aug. 13.
1845 Chair and furniture factory burned.

Orson Starr house built, 3123 N. Main St.; in later years, manufacturer of animal bells (see right)

1852 - First library; exchange of books and magazines that people brought for exchange reading.
1853 United Presbyterian Church (13 Mile and Crooks); "The Irish Church."

1865 - Death of Flemon Drake, M.D.
1868 John Almon Starr house built, 3123 Crooks Rd.

First Catholic Church, 12 Mile and Campbell (1/4 acre donated by Edmund Loughman {Lockman}). Services were held once a month by a priest from Centerline for this parish of 25 members, mostly of German and French origin.

1870 - Royal Oak township hall built by Benjamin Knowles at cost of $1,664.
1874 First Lutheran Church.

Lutheran orphan asylum, mostly for those who were deaf mutes.
1875 Founding of St. Mary Cemetery, although Ellen Hand buried there earlier.
1876 First newspaper, "The Experiment", published by Rev. George W. Owen, Methodist minister.
1877 Census of Businesses: Sawmill; 3 blacksmith shops; 1 hotel; 3 general stores; 1 millinery store; 2 drug stores; 2 physicians and 1 township hall.
1879 First telephone was brought to Royal Oak 4 years after being invented by Alexander Graham Bell.
First telephone in Louis Storz general store.

1880 - German Evangelical Emmanuel Church dedicated, Main Street at 3rd.
1889 Detroit United Railroad (electric) opens to Pontiac and Orchard Lake.

1891 - Royal Oak Village incorporated March 18.

First Village election.
1893 Cyclone (tornado) hits Village, destroys home of Frank L. Knowles, among others, April 13.

1900 - Population 468.
1901 Mineral water, "Tuttlingen Health Water", from a well at First Street and Main, delivered to Detroit in glass bottles transported by horse and wagon.
1902 Detroit United Railway acquired Detroit Northwestern electric line which operated from Detroit to Flint and a line from Detroit to Pontiac.
1902 Royal Oak Tribune founded as a weekly.
1903 First electric light plant owned and operated by William Hilzinger.
1907 Royal Oak Savings Bank, first bank in town, S.E. corner of Main at 4th.
1909 First automobile, James W. Anderson, M.D., owner.

1910 - Population 1,071.

First moving picture house; Edward Roy, owner, named "The Idle Hour."
No police force, Alex Lewless was a village marshall.
1913 First organized Volunteer Fire Department.
1914 Red Run Golf Club organized.
Henry Ford announced minimum wage to be $5.00 for 8 hr. day, Jan. 6. Event played important role in the rapid development of the area.
1915 Royal Oak Band. Organized by John B. Peters.
1916 Woodward Avenue became a 16-ft. wide paved strip.
1919 First bus line, Royal Oak to Big Beaver and Highland Park, operated by George Hallock.

1920 - Population, 6,007.
1921 Royal Oak incorporated as a city Nov. 8, with George A. Dondero as the first mayor.

First State Bank Building / Baldwin Theatre built
Deaths of Louis Storz, Jacob Erb and Charles G. Merrill
Gamewell police & fire signal system installed
Stephenson Car Line completed
1923 First Radio Station, WAGM owned by A. G. Miller. Sold to J.B. Sparks in 1928, becoming WEXL.
1925 Royal Oak constructed first 48-inch steel water line to bring Detroit water to Royal Oak.
1926 Shrine Parish Tabernacle opened, July 26.
1927 Detroit's largest suburban telephone exchange at 5th and Williams Streets.
Royal Oak (later G.A. Dondero) High School completed on North Washington.
1928 Washington Square Building built, Montgomery Ward Building soon after.
Royal Oak Theatre opened.
Detroit Zoological Gardens opened.

1930 - GTWRR track relocated from Woodward Ave.

Population 22,904. 1931 First commuter train over new GTWRR route, Aug. 1.
Discontinuance of Eastern Michigan Railroad, formerly D.U.R., under Lloyd Clawson, mayor. Royal Oak paid $12,200 for the tracks from the Fair Grounds to Catalpa Drive. Leased to D.S.R. for $5,000 per year for service to Ferndale and Royal Oak.
1936 Shrine Parish Tabernacle burned, March 17. Shrine of Little Flower church opened, March 22.
1937 Fifty acorns brought from the royal oak in England, and planted in the Detroit Zoological Park. They were later transplanted to Memorial Park.

1940 - Population 25,087.
1939 Historical Society organized, with Joseph Morrison, M.D. as first president

1950 - New Daily Tribune building opened (enlarged again, 1962).
1950 Population 46,898.
1955 Present City Hall opened its doors.
1957 Kimball High School built at a cost of $5,000,000, furnished.

1960 - Population 80,612.
1963 New Royal Oak Library completed.
1964 Population 85,000.
1964 New Police Station.
1965 Population 90,000.

1989 - I-696 opened on R.O.'s southern border.

1995 - Population 65,410

2001 - 175th Anniversary of the Royal Oak Cemetery.

................... Above right, an "O. Starr", No. 4, animal bell, with clapper, property of L. & D. Penney.

Page last changed 03/15/02

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