Vintage Photos of Perry, Including the 1913 Fire That Almost Ruined the Town
Did you know there were two “Perrys”? Well, sort of.
The Perry we know sits in Shiawassee County between Morrice and Shaftsburg. The land was first settled in 1836 by Josiah Purdy. In 1850, here came William Laing who opened the first store in Perry Township, on a hunk of land that became “Perry Centre”.
According to Perry History, once the post office went into operation in 1852, Perry Centre really began to grow. Soon, along with the post office, there was a harness shop, hotel, mercantile shop, Methodist Church, Odd Fellow Hall, sawmill, and wagon shed.
In the late 1870s, the Grand Trunk Railroad came through the Perry Centre area. However, the railroad was a mile north of town. A new village began sprouting up around the railroad, and the new, improved just-plain “Perry” was born.
Perry Centre businesses began being transferred a mere mile to Perry on rollers: doctor’s office, drug store, various shops, and the Methodist Church. More businesses popped up: hardware stores, livery stable, three blacksmiths, planning mill, another general store and drug store, pickle factory, the Perry Sun newspaper in 1886, and the Perry Glove & Mitten Factory in the 1890s.
An interurban trolley carried passengers through town from 1911 to 1929. On July 6, 1913, the Great Perry Fire took place. A train came through town, that is believed to have caused sparks that landed on the grain elevator. From that, a fire spread through town, burning homes, businesses, and churches. With a 30 MPH wind, the fire fighters couldn’t keep up and much was lost.
It took a couple of years, but Perry persevered, recovered, and grew to even larger proportions. New businesses arrived, including the Liberty Theater in 1920 and the Perry Opera House which opened in 1921.
"Perry Centre" has now disappeared from maps.
Take a look below at some vintage photos of Perry!
Vintage Perry, Michigan
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