Historical Timeline

1817 – The area known today as Southfield was first surveyed and called Township 1 North Range 10 East.

1818, Nov. 5 – John Daniels and Pitts Phillips purchased 160 acres in Sec. 4.

1818, Nov. 8 – John Monteith and Pitts Phillips purchased 160 acres in Sec. 3.

1818, Nov. 23 – John Daniels purchased an additional 160 acres in Sec. 4.

1819, Mar. 15 – Asa Munson and Peter J. Desnoyer purchased 160 acres in Sec. 5.

1819, Mar. 16 – Peter Desnoyer purchased an additional 170 acres in Sec. 5.

1823 – John Daniels was the first to settle the township, occupying property along Bingham and 13 Mile Roads. The price of land was a reasonable $1.25 per acre. Because of swampy regions to the south, most newcomers entered the area from Bloomfield Township to the North.

1825 – The son of George White, the first white child born in Southfield, was born.

1828 – The first marriage in Southfield. The first school and Post Office were built in Franklin Village.  Sophia Goutie was the first school teacher. Southfield Cemetery was created, originally as a private burial site. The first person buried in Southfield was Elias Aldrich. The first doctor, Ebenezer Raynale, arrived in Southfield.

1829 – “Uncle” Moses Rodgers built Southfield’s first inn and served the township’s first libation for profit. His public house was on the present day Beech Road, north of 8 Mile. The township’s first sawmill was built by Joshua David and Michael Beach near the present day Evergreen Road, south of 14 Mile Road.

1830 – The first school in Southfield.

1830, July 12 – The township (T1N R10E) was officially named Ossewa.

1830, July 29 – After ruminating on the name, the founders changed it to “Southfield”. The first two meetings were held in the home of Benjamin Fuller. The house remains standing on Civic Center Drive, north of Telegraph Road.

1831 – A.H. Green was the first Town Clerk; H.S. Babcock was the first Supervisor.

Circa 1832 – John Trowbridge established a general store on what is now the area where Southfield High School is located. Up the trail a half mile or so, John Thomas and Abraham Crawford began a settlement at the present intersection of Lahser and 10 Mile. They hoped the area, known as “Crawford’s Corners”, would become a thriving community. Thomas opened a tavern on the northeast corner of Lahser and 10 Mile. The following year a Post Office was established in the tavern. The next few years saw Crawford’s Corners blossom. Stores, churches, a weave shop, a military training center, and a young ladies’ academy pointed towards a potential boom town.

1833 – John Daniels erected a sawmill on the west branch of the Rouge River. He was the first in the territories west of New York to use mules to power the equipment. This earned him the title of “Mulley-Mill Pioneer of the West.”

1837 – Ezekial Sabins erected a grist mill on the Rouge River, a few hundred yards west of Archibald Green’s place. Because the area was blessed by the lifeblood of 19th century industry, streams to power factories, Southfield Center grew. The Lawrence Hotel was built in the Center, which is also called the “Burgh”. The hotel stood for 40 years on the present site of the General Electric building at the southeast corner of Civic Center Drive and Telegraph Road.

1838 – John Trowbridge moved his general store to Southfield Center. Soon afterwards, Crawford’s Corner became a memory.

1845 – Township rules were adopted for the Southfield Township Library.

1845, June 7 – The first library book was withdrawn.

1846, May 2 – Benjamin C. Gunn, the first librarian, swore oath.

1850 – U.S. Census – 1,658 residents in township.

1860 – U.S. Census – 1,496 residents.

1872-73 – Southfield Township Hall was built in Southfield Center.

1886 – Southfield Township’s total tax assessment was $920,700.

1890s – Dr. Holcomb built a horse racing track on the east side of Berg Road, between 10 Mile Road and Civic Center Drive.

1910 – During weekends in the summer, Berg Road was clogged with horse-drawn carriages taking people north to Bloomfield Township lakes. A typical Sunday saw Dunbar’s General Store (on the corner of Berg and Civic Center Drive) sell $100 worth of ice cream cones at 5 cents each.

1920s – The township’s subdivisions were platted and house builders flourish.

1937Southfield Newsette founded, later to be called the Southfield News, and eventually became part of the Observer newspapers.

1942 – Fire Department was established.

1947 – Southfield Township School District created, consolidating existing schools.

1950 – U.S. Census – 18,408 residents.

1952 – WJBK purchases a site on Nine Mile Road.

1953 – Southfield Police Department was established. Southfield Business Association started, later to be called the Southfield Chamber of Commerce.

1954 – The building of Northland Center turned an unused farm into the nation’s first shopping center. WWJ builds towers in Southfield.

1958, April 28 – Southfield was incorporated as a city.

1958 – Mary Thompson sold 166 acres to the City of Southfield for the location of the Civic Center.

1959 – WXYV builds towers, studio, and offices on 10 Mile.

1960 – U.S. Census – 31,501 residents.

1960, February 1 – First library opens in the Old Brooks School building.

1962 – Shaarey Zedek moves to Southfield.

1964 – Civic Center opened, including City Hall, Police Building, and Recreation Center. The library moved to the David Stewart Memorial Library in the Southfield Civic Center.

1965 – Federal Mogul opens on Lahser.

1966 – Providence Hospital opens on 9 Mile Road.

1967, October – Mary Thompson passes away.

1969 – The library expanded with the opening of the Children’s Room.

1970 – U.S. Census – 69,285 residents.

1974 – The Beech Woods Reading Center opened as one of the first paperback facilities in the country.

1975 – Prudential Town Center was built.

1976 – McDonnell Towers opened.

1978 – The Southfield Pavilion was added to the Civic Center and a separate Police building was built.

1980 – U.S. Census – 75,568 residents. The library expanded by opening the lower level.

1980s – Galleria Office Complex built.

1985 – The library celebrated its 25th anniversary. The Friends of the Southfield Public Library established a sister library in Hino, Japan.

1986 – The library installed an automated bibliographic control system (GEAC).

1990 – U.S. Census – 75,728 residents. The Library’s card catalog is automated.

1992 – Library introduces the InfoNet dial-in catalog service.

1993 – Library Circulation and other services are automated with the Innovative Interfaces, Inc. Integrated Library System.

1997 – The Beech Woods Reading Center was relocated to the John Grace Community Center. Star Southfield movie theater opened on 12 Mile Road west of Telegraph Road and north of Northwestern Highway.

March 9, 1999 – Southfield voters approve a millage to finance the construction of a new Library building.

2003 – The new Southfield Public Library opens. The building is over 127,000 sqaure feet, houses over 250,000 volumes, 250 computers, and 1,000 wired Internet connections.

2009 – John Grace library branch closes.

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