I have personally never been one for living the city life. Even though I grew up in a little suburb north of Detroit, in my heart, I have always had the desire to live in the country. Lapeer gives me that experience, even though I only live two blocks from the downtown area. Our downtown area is a place of history and classic charm; our walking trails can take your breath away as you feel cleansed from the city grind; giving you the sense of peace that comes with intermingling with the beauty of our natural wetlands. Although our town is growing, there are places within our municipality that still proudly reflect our rich past if you know what you are looking for.
Our historical courthouse, built in 1846, is recognized as the tenth oldest working courthouse in the country and is the backdrop for many of our local summer concerts; as well as the annual Easter-egg hunt and Lapeer Days festival. This splendid building sits grandly as the center of our downtown, with brick-paver walkways that display the names of many area families in Lapeer. A turn-of-the-century clock adorns the northwest corner of the courthouse square with a stone water fountain gracing the front walkway of the courthouse.
Our downtown has changed throughout the years; many of the stores of yesteryear gone. The memories of those places will always have a warm spot in my heart. The many lunches at the old McCrory store that housed a cafeteria style eatery with the old-fashioned soda fountain counter reminiscent of a by-gone era; the romantic dinners at the Villa restaurant, with its’ Victorian charm are all fond memories that I will always cherish.
Memories of taking the children to the Smith and Weston Shoe Store to purchase their school shoes; as well as around Christmas time for new boots. Other fond memories include taking the kids downtown for the annual Treat Walk and to the Christmas Parade and to see Santa during the holidays.
We still have our Blondies and Dagwood’s, an establishment that is exclusive to our town. Blondies is a quaint country-type store in the front, hosting a lovely little space filled with special Michigan-made treats and an old-fashioned ice-cream parlor. Dagwood’s, located behind Blondie’s in the same building is a deli-style restaurant serving freshly-made stacked-sandwiches what would have made the original Dagwood extremely proud.
Across the street is our celebrated Pix Theater. This theater is one of the city’s gems, as it has been renovated and hosts many onstage productions featuring local artisans as well as other named acts. A couple of years ago, we almost lost our theater to fire. By the grace of God and the hard work of our local firefighters, they were able to save this downtown icon from the damage of the fire that would take out the building next door; forcing Burke’s Flowers to move across the street until renovations could be done to their damaged building. Today, Burkes’ has returned to its’ original home and the Pix Theater has returned to hosting wonderful shows that bring a certain type of polish to our community.
Three days a week, during the warmer months, our local Farmer’s Market is set up downtown in front of the courthouse, featuring a wide variety of colorful plants and flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables, and many delectable baked goodies to please the palate. Local farmers bring their delicious wares to town, allowing all the opportunity to enjoy farm fresh flavors throughout the various seasons.
When I find myself getting weary of “city life”, I am able to take a stroll, less than a half a mile from my home and be on a beautiful pathway. As I walk throughout the wetlands that border and run throughout several natural areas around our town, I can’t help but have a sense of serenity that is often difficult to find in a normal city setting. The wildlife, during the different seasons, is always a pleasure to watch. Every year is spent viewing goslings growing into full grown geese; watching the turtles that can be seen lying in the sun, on a variety of driftwoods that lay within the wetland area. The wooden bridge that crosses the marsh always gives me the sense of being tucked away from the hustle and bustle of life; allowing for the repose that comes with knowing that this oasis is available to me at any time when I feel the need to get in touch with a more spiritual side of life.
Folks with their children and pets can be seen enjoying the pathways, rejuvenating themselves and connecting with their loved ones in ways that can only be experienced in nature. Many have left their technology behind and are actually enjoying the stillness of the moment.
This town, that I call home, has many nuances to it, which sometimes are only recognized by those that have experienced its history. The face of Lapeer is changing; however, there are places in this town that take you back to a time when technology was something you only saw in movies and being social was sharing dinner and a movie at our historic Pix Theater with family and friends.
I have lived in various towns in my life, however, when I found Lapeer, I found home. I have raised my children here and I feel that they were given something that big city life couldn’t provide, at sense of belonging to a community. My children have lifelong friends here; and my husband and I are the roots that started it all for our family. For me, it’s a wonderful place to call home.