SAGINAW – When Mike Perry took over Old Town Furniture in 1978, he inherited a business with a history hidden behind two stories of white aluminum siding.
Forty years later, he’s uncovering the building’s historic 1870s facade for all of Old Town to see.
Perry, who also owns and operates the Schuch Hotel – built in 1868 – about a block away on Hamilton Street, hired Jim Graham of Saginaw-based J.M. Graham Construction for the job.
“I wouldn’t even think of hiring anybody outside of Saginaw,” Perry said.
Graham has worked on a number of buildings in Old Town, including the iconic yellow, red and blue-painted building across the street from the furniture store at 121 N. Hamilton.
“This is Old Town because of guys like us,” he said, gesturing to Perry, “We’re old.”
Work began with the removal of the siding on Sept. 11. Graham then replaced the wooden beams that support the second story of the facade and added concrete blocks to serve as a better foundation for the historic sand and sewer brick.
Graham will remove the teal-colored paint that covers the southern half of the building and re-paint the trim of both facades in black. Work on the facade should be complete in about 10 days.
Among the historic architectural features now visible from the street are decorative wood sculptures set into the brick and on the pediments above the second-story windows. The large-keystoned arch over the store’s entrance, once covered by an awning, is now visible.
As he thinks back to the store’s opening, Perry remembers a very different Hancock Street — Fralia’s was an insurer’s office, Old Towne Laundry was a barbershop and a hamburger joint occupied the now-empty shack across the street.
“There’s a lot of history here,” said June Denno, the building’s previous owner. “This is Old Saginaw City.”