The Waldron Block

Although located in the very center of the original plat of the Village of Hillsdale, the group of buildings first known as the Waldron Block and then as the Flatiron Block were not part of the original Village plat.  Stories abound about the disagreements over this piece of property. Best known is a lawsuit that occurred between Joel McCollum and others involved in the development of the village. The lawsuit filed by Joel McCollum against Henry Waldron, Henry S. Mead and thirteen others was filed in the County Court for the County of Hillsdale in 1849.  

The drama of a lawsuit was the most refined in the history of turmoil involving the “Triangle Plat” located between North Broad and North Howell Streets, where they converge south of Railroad Square. The first murder reported within the Village occurred in a tavern at the south end of the block, while a sensational bombing occurred in the 1920s.  But what changed the appearance of this vital parcel more than any one element was fire. Over the years several fires struck, but each time, like the phoenix, the block rose again.

In 1855, after settling the lawsuit with Joel McCollum so that he could proceed with his plans, Henry Waldron built a three-story brick building on the Triangle Plat, calling it the Waldron Block. In February of 1868, the New York Times reported a fire caused by an explosion of a kerosene lamp that destroyed the Waldron House in Hillsdale, Michigan.   

In 1879 an horrific fire destroyed the three-floor section which contained the Post Office, the City Clerk’s office, many businesses and some significant City records. Three were left seriously hurt.

In 1904 a fire starting in the basement in the south end of the block burned Bonfiglio’s fruit store, Corey’s Music Store which included six pianos, plus many second floor law offices. The building was said to be in ruins at that time ... but again it was rebuilt.

In 1914 a sensational fire that  started in the Yarick Print Shop upstairs on Broad Street, gutted almost half the Waldron block. It was said that Dennis & Huff, barbers on the first floor directly under the fire were back in business in an hour, shaving men while water still dripped from the ceiling. L.C. Hamilton, another barber located in the basement, wasn’t so lucky since there were several feet of water pooled there.  

In 1920 the south end of Waldron block was once again gutted by fire.  On January 5, 1923, the new building for the First State Savings Bank was completed at the south end of the "Triangle Block.” Since Hillsdale County National Bank had long been located in the middle of this block, the term Bank Block soon caught on.  

Both Banks built new offices in the 1960s. They continued at this location until the 1960s, when Taylor-Moore took over the Hillsdale County National Bank building and Vannatter-Howell took over the Hillsdale State Savings Bank building. In the 1970s District Court moved to the Vannatter-Howell building, where it stands today.


Carol A. Lackey