The Elevator was first opened in the 1870s. Sinclair Finch and Clyde Stump were the original owners of the business. (The former Stump residence is located on North Avenue next to the Tiffany, Young and Hauss funeral home - the Stone 3-Story house.) The Elevator was built at the railroad tracks for transportation purposes, which encouraged other businesses to locate at the depot. On the grounds of where the Elevator is now, there were stockyards and a barrel factory.
The Armada Elevator would ship many white navy beans in from farmers via the railroad in the early fall. The Elevator Company employed local women to sort and bag the beans in 100-pound sacks, to ensure the highest quality. Their slogan became "Choice, hand-picked beans". The beans were shipped out on the railroad trains to the east coast and down south to markets. The Elevator later expanded into the grain market.
The Hollweg family acquired the Armada Elevator in 1963, and have owned and operated it since that time. They currently buy and sell grain, as well as produce and sell Armada Brand pet food and animal feed.
Armada Water Tower
The old water tower was located across from the Armada Grain Company (Armada Elevator) on Depot Street. Originally powered by a steam engine, the pumps for water were eventually converted to use electric motors. All that remains of the original installation are the imprints from the tower piers, the stub of the water pipe, and next to these, the outline of the brick pump house foundation. The new water tower sits behind the Fire Hall north of town on Armada Center Road. Built in 1995, it holds 200,000 gallons of water.
The railroad was put through Armada in 1877 as part of an extension from Romeo to Rigdeway, a town in Lenox Township, which was later called Lonox and is now annexed by Richmond. This railroad was originally several small railroads, one of which was the Michigan Air-Line Railroad. The original depot, a frame stucture 18' x 55', was built in 1890. This building burned down in the 1920s and was replaced by another building 18' x 35' in size which was steam heated. The new building contained a baggage room and an office/waiting room area.
The railroad was an important part of small communities during the early 1900s. Armada had a horse-and-buggy taxi that "met" each train that stopped and transported passengers to one of the three hotels in town or to their location of choice.
Train passenger service was discontinued in 1954, and a few years later, the mail train was also discontinued. When the depot was no longer needed, village officials moved it to the north-east corner of Floral and Depot streets. In the 1980s, it was bought by a village resident and moved to its present location on Church street.
The first township library was founded in 1844 under the direction of school inspectors. When it was dissolved, what few books it had were likely incorporated into the schools that were in the township.
Around the turn of the 20th century, a township library was run in the second floor of the brick store building on the northeast corner of Fulton and Main streets. At first, it occupied the three rooms in the front of the building, but later moved to a large room in the back. It started out with 87 books, and another 13 were procured from various sources. A loan permitted the borrowing of another 100 volumes fron the State of Michigan. The librarian at this time was Miss Elizabeth Pomeroy.
When the library outgrew its site, a new library was planned and built where it stands today. This was largely due to a donation from Andrew Carnegie made possible by Miss Pomeroy, who diligently kept up a correspondence with Mr. Carnegie stating the importance of this gift. Local residents raised the additional monies needed and work was begun in 1915.
In the 1980s, when the library again needed more room, an addition was built to the north, and a parking lot was added. The present librarian is Mrs. Diane Burgeson. The library is governed by a library board and is supported by township tax money.
The Village of Armada had its own Fire Department from the middle of the 1800s when the Armada Township formed a Fire Department and the Village Department transferred to the Township Department. Fire protection has always been on a volunteer basis, with personnel being paid for time spent, except for the officers, who are paid a stipulated amount.
The department was housed in various buildings in the village over the years, the most recent being the large building on West Main street in front of the IGA complex. The township built a new building in the 1908s on Armada Center Road, just on the edge of the village limits and the fire and rescue equipment was moved there. The department still owns one of the first pieces of its fire equipment - a hand-drawn 1850s pumper - which it keeps for historical purposes.
Looking north as you cross the bridge, and you will see the small building in the back that is the last remnant of the Old Mill. It was run by steam power, and was used to make flour in addition to processing other grains for animal feed. Mr Drake was one of the original owners, and the mill was owned by Mr Tom Neely for many years. The mill burned down on April 7, 1980.
The Township Hall was formerly the Maccabees' Hall. It was probably built after the fire of 1889, which destroyed all of the wooden buildings on the north side of Main street.
Over the years, it has been used for many community functions. Wrestling matches were once held there and the first movies in town were shown in this building. In the early 1950s, it was used as an elementary classroom while an addition was built for the 1929-built school. Organizations often used it for meetings, parties and dances. New steps have been built as needed, and bathrooms and an access ramp have also been added. The Township now has its offices there, and it is used by voters during various elections.
The first police man in Armada, known as the night watchman was Addison Torrey. He served from 1930 until 1942 and was not paid a definite salary but got what was donated to him by individual businessmen in the village. Earl Robb was the first salaried police officer and served from 1942-1945 and rejoined the department in the 1950?s.
The first official police station was in a building to the west of the Township Hall that has since been torn down. Later the department moved to the building that Lick's recently occupied (it burned down in December 1999) on Main Street. In 1953 the first official police car was purchased. The Police Department and Village Offices moved to the present location in 1991.
The first Post Office in Armada Village was established in 1843. It was located in the home of the Congregational Pastor, Rev. Samuel A. Benton, and Solomon Lathrop was the Postmaster. Previous to this time, the nearest post office was at the branch five miles away, from which mail was brought by any person whom business called in that direction, or else was picked up by a boy on horseback. Postage for letters beyond the state of Michigan was 25 cents and often not prepaid.
John F. Hall, the second Postmaster, moved the Post Office to his home in the middle of the village. When Charles A. Lathrop became Postmaster, about 1848, he established the office in his store, the first time it was located in a public building.
After being moved a few more times, it was finally located just North of the Northeast corner of Fulton and Burk streets.
The present Post Office was dedicated on October 6, 1962. Chester Lee was Postmaster at that time, and served a total of 23 years before retiring in 1973.
The well house has been located on the South end of the Armada Memorial Park for many years.
The well house is currently being restored to it's original condition.
Old Armada High School
The first public school in the Village of Armada was a wooden building on South Fulton Street just north of Torrey Street. It looked like a barn and was made of perpendicular slabs spiked to a wooden frame. A Miss Day from Massachusetts and George Lathrop were the first teachers.
The second school building in the village was located west of Fulton and north of Main Street. This was a well-built frame building and painted white. However, the location was not satisfactory and it was moved in 1860 to a location on Prospect Street between North Fulton and Burk streets where it was used for 4 years after which it was sold, moved to Main Street and destroyed by fire.
In 1865 a public school was built on Burk Street which housed students from elementary through high school. Students outside the village district paid tuition to attend. This was a two-story brick square-looking building and for years was called "the brick school" and is now referred to as the "old brick school".
In 1929 a larger building was needed and the first brick school was torn down and the present brick building constructed. This school continued to house students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
In the late 1940's and early 1950's one-room country schools from the surrounding areas consolidated with the village school and more room was needed.
Another school was built on Armada Center Road and grades 8th through 12th moved into it in the 1950?s.
In the late 1970?s a new high school was built on Armada Center Road and the school built in 1929 housed grades kindergarten through fifth (and various pre-school classes) until this school year.
As of August 1999, the 1929 building now is home to the Armada School Administration.
Donated by Bill and Bonnie Vedder, the 50 foot long hall was moved from McFadden Road to its new foundation at the Armada Agricultural Society grounds in 1998. This cooperative venture with the Historical Society was accomplished with the help of individuals and community groups.
The National Grange, founded shortly after the Civil War, was instrumental in important legislation and served as a self-help, social and educational center for communities across the country. Many granges are still active in Michigan.
This structure, built in 1886, was last utilized in the 1970's by 4-H groups. Many new uses are planned. Restoration projects are underway on this reminder of our area's strong agricultural heritage.