In 1887, the Wallace Block was built on the east side of South Ann Arbor Street, then called “Adrian Street.”
The block got its name from the Wallace family. Edwin Wallace of that family built the Wallace Block, after the previous stores, all wood, had burned down a few years earlier.
The new Wallace Block was a sight to behold, with beautiful Italianate architecture and completely constructed of red brick.
The original buildings started just south of a jewelry and drug store on the corner of Chicago Street (now Michigan Avenue) and Adrian.
The first building was home to the new fire department, suddenly seen as a necessity in a town that had just suffered a tremendous loss to fire.
The next building, going south, was the post office. After that, there was a barber shop; clothing store; tailor; machine shop; and machinist.
Past the machinist, a home was standing with a yard on all sides; and finally, on the corner, the Methodist Church. The church was close to the fire but not damaged by it.
In 1893, a grocery store and harness shop appeared in the Wallace Block.
A candy store and print shop were in business on that block in 1899.
Today’s photo shows the Muir and Gross Hardware in the Wallace Block. I would peg the date at about 1910 because historian Bob Lane says electric lights went on in downtown Saline in 1907, and a photo of the inside of the hardware shows electric light fixtures in the ceiling. Outside, only horses are parked at the curb.
The hardware sold kitchen stoves and home furnaces operating on oil or coal. Kitchen cooking items and buckets are seen inside. Hardware stores typically sold paint supplies, including lead, along with many other items needed for building a house, shed, or barn.
Thanks to Bob Lane for his verbal essay on the Wallace Block; to the Saline Area Historical Society; and to the Sanborn Fire Co. maps.
Martha Churchill is the author of several books about local history. She can be reached at [email protected].