Habitant Shops, Inc.
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- From "Alpena Gleanings..." (Part 1) by Robert Haltiner: The Habitant Shop, established in 1922, was first located at 113 W. Fletcher Street. More space was soon needed and the factory was moved to the N.W. corner of Johnson Street and Woodward Avenue. The company operations were housed in a frame building 24 x 84 feet--big enough for all their various machines. The storage building next to it was 24 x 120 feet. A factory track system was used to transport all materials from any part of the plant to the nearby D. & M. railway siding for shipping.
Approximately 15 men were employed in the beginning. Habitant Shops, Inc. was the first operation of its kind in the United States to make a complete line of rustic wooden fences. These fences were made exclusively of northern Michigan white cedar. These trees were selected and cut from the many stands of cedar located just a short distance from Alpena. Suitable material was purchased from individuals and concerns--either rough cut or cut to length--and carefully hand-peeled. This hand-peeling was done by the age-old draw knife method that produced the desired individual hand-work look. It eliminated the irregularities that would be found in any machine product of the time. This phase of the operation employed at least another 50 men.
In the 1930s Habitant Shops, Inc. were manufacturing rustic furniture and small cabins as well as fences to meet the great demand for these products in the East and Midwest. Newell A. Eddy of Bay City (owner of Presque Isle Lodge) was the major stockholder of the company. Fred C. Burnett of Alpena was manager of this local firm...the main plant being in Bay City.
In the early 1950s the plant had become the largest producer of rustic fences in the United States. it employed over 50 men...and became known as Habitant Fence, Inc. The factory buildings were getting rather shabby looking...having been patched up over and over again with boards and tarpaper...and was long overdue for replacement. And certainly more space was needed. The property was sold and a large new concrete block building was erected next to the railroad tracks at the intersection of the French and Hamilton Roads.
In late 1962 the Habitant Fence, Inc. moved into these larger quarters. Thirteen original styles of new fences were then put into production. These additional new designs almost immediately created a need for the construction of over 3,000 square feet of additional plant space that was completed in 1963.
Several hundred thousand feet of Habitant Fence for residential and commercial use was merchandised throughout the country by more than 500 dealer representatives yearly. The volume of shipping in the first quarter of 1964 exceeded any previous quarter. The 1964 Habitant Fence, Inc. used more than one million pieces of cedar...and the company was employing 60 men.
On April 28, 1975 Habitant Shops. Inc., including Alpena's plant, merged with MacMillian Bloedel Enterprises of Canada.
- "Habitant Shops Inc. 1941. Corner Johnson Street and Woodward Avenue"
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- Fred Trelfa Collection
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- Geographic Coverage:
Johnson St. and Woodward Ave.:
Michigan, United States
- Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan
- Recommended Citation:
- Fred Trelfa Collection, Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library
Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library
Agency street/mail address
211 N. First Ave.
Alpena, Michigan 49707