Presidents' Day memories
Posted on 02/22/2024
Mayor Brian Turnbull Northvillians and friends,

A week ago we enjoyed 60-degree days, setting records. A day or so later, we had a heavy snowfall. And now, it’s warming up again. Only in Michigan! Historically, winter is starting to wind down when we make it to Presidents’ Day.

Over the years, we’ve had presidents, governors and many other dignitaries visit Northville around Presidents’ Day week and for civic occasions. Notably, George H. W. Bush, our 41st president (’89 – ’93), came through Northville on his presidential train with wife Barbara, who had been involved in our community activities.

Background on Presidents' Day
• Presidents’ Day (Washington’s Birthday) is a holiday in the U.S., celebrated the third Monday of February to honor all persons who served as president.

• The federal holiday especially honors our first president, George Washington, who led the Continental Army to victory in the American Revolution. He was an integral part of the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

• Additionally, this day historically honors President Lincoln, too. For close to this holiday’s first 100 years (1879 – 1971), only Washington’s birthday was celebrated, and then it was changed to Presidents’ Day.

What’s going on today
• Mary Gilbert's Historic Cabin - The Rouge River Task Force needs your help to move this innovative cabin built on the river by a very remarkable woman. Contact the Historical Society at Mill Race Village to arrange for in-person donations. Link

• Chili’in the Ville Chili Cookoff (2/24, 1-4PM, Downtown) Sample chili, view ice sculptures and then enjoy a Free “Northville Folk” Concert at the Marquis Theatre at 7 p.m. Link

• Snow Moon Hike Walk (2/24, 7:00 PM) Maybury State Park – Link

• Tipping Point Theater’s “The Chinese Lady” by Lloyd Suh (until 3/3). Link

• Day of the Dude (3/6, 4-10PM, Downtown). Take it easy, watch The Big Lebowski at Garage Grill, hear live music at Genitti’s, and help support the new Ford Field playground. Link

• Bicentennial Task Force and Cemeterian team – Meetings will begin in March. Let me know if you’re interested in joining … stay tuned!

Presidents’ Day of yesteryear in Northville

The following activities are chronicled in The Northville Record (oldest weekly newspaper in the metro area dating back to 1869):

• 1992 – President George H. W. Bush (1989-1993) and First Lady Barbara Bush slowed down their campaign train as they came through Northville’s Cabbagetown area and waved to those gathered along both sides of the track. They moved slowly past the Albert Kahn-designed Ford Plant (Water Wheel Centre) and continued on through Bealtown, greeting countless citizens who were there to witness this historic event.

• 1934 – Albert Kohler, a Northville native, decorated a record-setting cake for Pres. Roosevelt. The 250-lb. birthday cake was sent to the White House for the celebration.

Governors in town
Numerous Michigan governors have come to town for various activities through the years, especially around Presidents’ Day:

• 1904 – Gov. Warner (1905-1910) visited Northville routinely and lived close by in Farmington. He owned Clover Dairy, and many of his 13 cheese factories were in the area. He spoke at the city’s band shell in 1904 where he launched his governor’s race.

• 1932 – Gov. Brucker (1931-1932) spent time in Northville kicking off our County Fair multiple years (which was even larger than the State Fair). Additionally, Prince Louis Ferdinand, the crowned Prince of Prussia, spent time in Northville in the 1930’s.

• 1950 – Gov. (Soapy) Williams (1949-1960) opened the Northville Downs racing season on more than one occasion, which included the Governor’s Trot race, where a world champion mare (Onolee Hanover) was entered one year. That year the governor spoke at Ford Field and also dedicated the Northville State Hospital (Legacy Park today).

• 1962 – Gov. George Romney (’63-’69) – Mitt Romney’s father and former chairman of American Motors, also launched his campaign for governor in Northville.

• 1982 – Gov. Bill Milliken (’69-’82) spent time in our city and always had a small Northville flag on his desk in Lansing (given to him during his first visit here). He dedicated our Main Street ’78 renovation program.

• 1998 – Gov. John Engler (’91-’02) signed legislation in the city of Northville in the fall of this year before stopping at our historic Parmenter’s Cider Mill to speak to a large crowd.

• 2003 – Gov. Jennifer Granholm (’03-’10) lived here in the community as a Northvillian, spending a great deal of time in the Ville. She is presently the U.S. Secretary of Energy.

• 2012 – Gov. Rick Snyder (’11-’19) took spirited questions from local residents in a town hall here.

• 2019 – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been to town on a dozen occasions; I’ve had the honor to introduce and host her in our “Hamlet in the Hills.”

As you can see, presidents, governors and other notables in society have visited our town over the years making their mark on our community, especially around Presidents’ Day. Now it’s time to make your mark – we all have 60 minutes in each hour and 24 hours in a day, and it’s how we use this time and who we share it with that makes a difference in Life. I challenge you to make a difference for your community.

Keep that Northville Faith!

Brian Turnbull,
Mayor -  Northville
[email protected] / 248.505.6849

American flag, Presidents Washington and Lincoln