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Mason County Memories

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Our Photographs today show the fire that consumed the Huston building, Photographs are courtesy of the Jim Fay collection.

David Thomas Huston, was an early hardware merchant of Ludington. His business was located on the SW corner of South James and Ludington Ave, formerly called the Huston Bldg and currently the site of Fort Ludington. In review the 1904 City Directory lists a Hardware store owned by HV Huston at that site, and many other businesses were housed in different part of the building over the years it was owned by the Huston family.

The Huston building burned in about 1944 and at that time was a two story building. Reportedly at the time school was dismissed and in the photographs we can see large crowds and a number of children on bikes watching the blaze.

When Harrison Huston attempted to rebuild the store he was limited to a one story structure because of the demands, limits and rationing of the war effort. It will take some additional research but there may have been as many as four fires at that site in a hundred year span of time.

Thomas Roderick grandson of Harrison Huston recalls "My grandfather Harry V. Huston kept an office in the 2nd floor of that building, entrance to the upstairs on James St. A Mr. Miller, was the overseer and caretaker of the building (he lived farther north on Gaylord Ave. a grand old gentleman).

I remember visiting this abandoned office with my mother once when visiting Ludington, about 1940, long after my grandfather had died (1933). The office had family photos on the wall and an antique roll top desk with all sorts of little compartments in it no doubt with family information that was lost. But in that office was a huge safe."

During the fire that safe crashed through the first floor and onto the rubble in the basement. The safe survived there; it was opened and the contents sent to the family. There was much family information, but especially important was an account book kept in co Antrim, Ireland, by the Huston Family with the earliest entry of 1724.

The Huston's Gaylord's and Tripps have an extensive history in the early history of Ludington and Mason County. Harrison V. Huston the son of David T. Huston married Effie M. Gaylord [born 1866] daughter of Nelson Jones Gaylord and Emma Armina Tripp. Nelson and Emma came to Ludington in 1875, where Emma's brothers George and Charles had settled some time before.

George Tripp had first come to Mason County in 1854, at a time where there was only a sawmill a boarding house and a couple of shacks. He worked in the woods, he engaged in butchering and sold his meat door to door before coming into Ludington in 1867 and opening a meat market.

Charles came to Ludington in 1868 and opened a Tobacco and Cigar shop on Ludington Avenue which burned in the great fire of 1881. Upon the completion of the White and Danaher block on the corner of James Street and Ludington Avenue was completed he moved into it and re-opened his store.

Effie Gaylord Huston, who was a Ludington school teacher and also worked on helping to establish the new Library that was completed in Ludington during 1904/05 will be the subject of a later article as we explore the contributions that this pioneer family made to the development of the City of Ludington.

If you have stories, photographs or other local history items to share please feel free to contact Dave Petersen c/o the Ludington Daily News.

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