Chroma in Milwaukee Junction
MILWAUKEE JUNCTION RISING  »

FUN THINGS TO DO IN DETROIT »



Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 40
  1. #1

    Default Boynton and Oakwood Heights

    I am looking for historical information on the Boynton and Oakwood Heights neighborhoods in Southwest Detroit. This area is the only portion of Detroit west of the Rouge River and is located in the 48217 zip code. Does anyone know anything about the history of this area in terms of neighborhood names, annexation, ethnic groups, notable residents, etc.?

  2. #2

    Default

    Oakwood was for many years very Italian (which is why Gonella's and Giovanni's are there). A large portion of the population there were San Marinese - from the tiny Republic of San Marino, which is entirely surrounded by Italy. I had some very close friends who lived there.

    Boynton, along with the adjacent areas of River Rouge and Ecorse, were among the earliest African-American areas on the southwest side and downriver.

  3. #3

    Default

    On Face Book, go to Oakwood Blue Jackets. Very nice site, but you have to go through all the pics and post. Alot of info.

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by EastsideAl View Post
    Oakwood was for many years very Italian (which is why Gonella's and Giovanni's are there). A large portion of the population there were San Marinese - from the tiny Republic of San Marino, which is entirely surrounded by Italy. I had some very close friends who lived there.

    Boynton, along with the adjacent areas of River Rouge and Ecorse, were among the earliest African-American areas on the southwest side and downriver.
    How did you find this info? Is it all from what your friends told you?

  5. #5

    Default

    There was an Italian Catholic church on Fort St. that only recently closed. It was a small church, but I can't recall the name right now. Maybe Mt. Carmel or Our Lady of mt. Carmel?? It seems like it closed either this year or 2009.

  6. #6

    Default

    I was born and raised there. And went to Hunter school with the kids from the Dog Leg (Boyton area) Was the greatest place to grow up. My dad worked at the salt mine. And before Giovannis was Lupones pizza, Majors, Casidies. Gonnellas was there for many years, started on Bayside st. On Waring, near the bakery, was Alcamos.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by boogiechillen View Post
    How did you find this info? Is it all from what your friends told you?
    I spent quite a bit of time around that area back in the '80s. By then the Italian/San Marinese population, while it was still a strong presence, was in the process of either moving away or dying off. There were still a number of the old ethnic institutions around though, like Gonella's, Aloe's Kitty Kat Lounge, and the Oakwood Blue Jackets. My friend's family was there until the late '90s.

    As for the Boynton area, a very close friend of my parents was African-American, and his parents had moved out to Ecorse, very near the Detroit border, in the years after WWII. So we visited out there when I was a kid He also had a family of relatives who lived on the Detroit side of Bassett out there from about that same time.

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kryptonite View Post
    There was an Italian Catholic church on Fort St. that only recently closed. It was a small church, but I can't recall the name right now. Maybe Mt. Carmel or Our Lady of mt. Carmel?? It seems like it closed either this year or 2009.
    It was Our Lady of Mt. Carmel on Oakwood. Not to be confused with the Wyandotte church of the same name. My friend's mother went there. It had actually originally been a Maltese parish, and the priest was Maltese, as was some of the congregation. A lot of the Italians down there also went to All Saints on the other side of the Rouge River on Fort St., and some of their kids went to school there back when the school was open.

  9. #9

    Default

    My great grandmother lived on Colonial Street from the early 1940's through the 80's. I had many friends there and everyone kept an eye on my Nanny. She used to bar tend at the bar that used to be next to the Motel near the Blue Jackets (not Aloe's Kittycat though) As kids we used to beg for scraps when we saw the Majors banquet hall was open (across from Gonella's). Used to feel the explosions underground some days from the salt mine... this was also where I was living during the BIG STORM of 1980. Lots of big ol trees lost. Hunter school was closed for as long as I could remember, there were signs stating Keep Out and warnings of dogs inside.

  10. #10

    Default

    Downrivergal, g- grandpa name was Joe? Lena's grandsons Mike, Bob and Ronnie M? I lived down the street at 404. M's lived across the alley from Lena when they were younger.

  11. #11

    Default

    Yes 48217!!! That was them!! unbelievable that you knew them, that someone remembers... Yes the M's are my cousins, their moms sister is my grandma... Mike still lives in MI, Ronnie lives out west But sadly, Bob has been gone since 1993. Their mom is still alive... now I am going to go arial view 404, I think I know which house it is

  12. #12

    Default

    Lena worked at Helen's cafe, then it was McGann's bar. It was on Oakwood Blvd. next to the Diamond J motel. It was torn down years back. Lena and Joe lived in the 2nd house off Powell, on Colonial. They were the best! Ronnie is my age, we went to Hunter together.

  13. #13

    Default

    My great aunt lived on Edsel and Visger from some time right after WW2 to about 1972. She was born in Poland. When we visited there were a few old ethnics left on the street who I thought were East European. She talked to a few and her English was not great. I always thought the neighborhood was East Europ[ean at one time, but I dont know.

  14. #14

    Default

    Boyton area (dog leg) was mostly Polish and Hungarian until the late 40s.

  15. #15

    Default

    Mr. Bagnasco, started out in the 'undertaking business' on Oakwood in the 1920s. There were more than a few Italians there, too.

  16. #16

    Default

    As an Eastsider (where most ethnics were German, Belgian, Italian and Polish)... I love these ethnic threads... it's nice to bring people together online.

    But I digress... there has been a Bagnasco Funeral Home for many years (now with a hyphenated name) on Harper Ave. in St. Clair Shores... sounds like too much of a coincidence (name wise) not to be related....

  17. #17

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gistok View Post
    But I digress... there has been a Bagnasco Funeral Home for many years (now with a hyphenated name) on Harper Ave. in St. Clair Shores... sounds like too much of a coincidence (name wise) not to be related....
    Historically, you're right, Gistok. Bagnasco was apparently based on the east side, originally on St. Aubin. However, they had a west side location, whether it was just an office, or a full-fledged funeral home is not quite certain. I'm an east sider too, but we had a lot of relatives over there at one time. In our family, it depended on who you worked for..we needed to live close to work. (Ford = West Side, Chrysler = East Side, etc.) Maybe the native west siders can fill us in.

    Attachment 8827
    R.L. Polk Detroit City Directory 1928-29

  18. #18

    Default

    Thanks for the info Kathy2trips...

    I was a young child when the Ford Freeway was being built... so the concept of "having to live close to work" seems rather foreign to me.

    I still remember the eastern terminus of the Ford Freeway in the early 1960s when you had to exit at Vernier/8 Mile... but saw the "end of the ditch" just past the exit. Being German, we used to frequent "Schwaben Park"... which was in the way of I-94 as it entered Macomb County. That German park was "Eminent Domain'ed" and all that's there today (behind the fitness center on narrow 8 Mile Rd.) is a stand of trees from the old park.

    Sorry, I don't mean to threadjack this west side thread!

  19. #19

    Default

    Thank You for the infor Kathy2. I can remember back to the mid 50s, there was a couple of houses at the area of that address, 227. Majors Cafe bought them and tore them down for parking. It would have been between the 220 Bar and Majors Cafe, across Oakwood, from where Gonella's is now.

  20. #20

    Default Boynton Detroit - never heard of it

    The area consisting of the Boynton and Oakwood Heights subdivisions of Detroit were annexed by the city of Detroit sometime between 1920 and 1930. Prior to that time the area was part of Ecorse Township, a 54 square mile area. No one called the neighborhoods Boynton or Oakwood Heights. Oakwood Heights was just called Oakwood and the Boynton subdivision was called Southwest Detroit. Oakwood Heights is an isolated neighborhood. To the north lies the Rouge River, to west and east are large expanses of industrial property and to the south a railroad switch yard, The Detroit Salt Mine and The Detroit Marathon oil refinery forms the southern border north of Schafer Road. In the 40s & 50s Oakwood was primarily populated by people of Italian descent and Boynton by a variety of nationalities west of Fort street and African Americans east of Fort street. In the Boynton subdivision the grade school children attended Boynton Elementary School, now a junior high school. Some children attended the Catholic elementary schools of St Andrew & Benedict located on Beatrice Street in Detroit and St Henry in Lincoln Park. Later the children would attend South Western High School and a variety of Catholic high schools. Few would attend Cass Tech.

    In 1875 the Boynton area was farm land largely occupied by people of German and French descent. Farms owned by the Scheonfield, Strowig, Abens, Riopel, Brisbois, Dunn, Campeau and Leblanc families, occupied much of the land in the Boynton subdivision.

    The streets of the Boynton subdivision were laid out prior to 1930. In later years the Boynton subdivision was called dogleg by the residents.

    In the southwest section of the Boynton subdivision Dumfries Street was the border between Detroit and Melvindale. There were no homes on Dumfries from Outer Drive to Visger. The home, that I lived in as a child, was built in 1941, and was located on Dartmouth the next street east of Dumfries on the former Aben farm near Outer Drive (formally Pepper Road). From my back door a vista of open fields, ponds, farmland and woods were visible. In the winter the ponds would freeze over and neighborhood kids would ice skate and play hockey. The farm would yield cabbage and squash which was not harvested by the farmer in the fall. The property, which was located in Melvindale, was the former Schoenfield farm of 1875. The old Schoenfield farm house on the corner of Outer Drive and Dumfries was occupied by the descendents of the Schoenfields until the mid 60s. On the corner of Outer Drive and Dartmouth a descendent of the Aben family resided. Today the farm house and the Schoenfield farm are occupied by I-75.
    Last edited by lamptester; October-18-11 at 02:30 PM.

  21. #21

    Default

    Old annexation maps show both neighborhoods -- well, really only part of Oakwood Heights because most of it was in what would become Melvindale -- were annexed in 1922. Why? Not really sure. I know that River Rouge directly to the east incorporated as a city the same year (it had originally incorporated a village in 1899), and Melvindale to the west incorporated as a village two years later, and as a city by 1933. It's probable that Detroit would have kept on annexing south of the Rouge River.

  22. #22

    Default

    Wow, that is excellent history of the area! Thanks for sharing it. I am keenly interested, as the majority of my formative years were spent there, from about 1961-71, We lived on a relatively new neighborhood which was created and "stuck: between Visger and Conway streets, adjacent to (then) Boynton Elementary School. A question you may be able to answer is, do you know the history of the "Boynton" name? I believe the full name of the school was "Francis G. Boynton" School. I conducted some rudimentary research, but could not come up with any 'Boynton's associated with Detroit. Thanks!

  23. #23

    Default

    Now Oakwood Heights is about to on the demolition list if Marathon Oil (Stink) factories get their way. The part of the well kept up homes is mostly Mexican-Hispanic occupied since the early 1990s. Boyton area is mostly middle to low-income black since the late 1950s.

  24. #24

    Default

    DownriverD
    You must have lived on Ries Street. When the area was subdivided, it must have been a requirement to construct sidewalks. There was a sidewalk from outer Drive to Visger Rd., two sidewalks on Ries St., but no road on either. An older couple lived in a very small home on Ries St., probably no larger than fifteen by fifteen feet. Their lot was a vegetable garden. The woman, who was very short in stature, was of foreign descent and wore a long black dress with her head covered in a black scarf. As very young children we thought that she was a witch.

    I would guess that the sub-division developer was Francis G Boynton and that he probably donated the land for the school to the city of Detroit.
    You can e mail me at rodneym5 and that funny at sign then yahoo dot com.
    Last edited by lamptester; August-26-12 at 11:43 AM.

  25. #25

    Default

    Marathon is planning to buy and tear down most of Oakwood Heights over the next couple of years for the expansion of their refinery.

    http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article...-buyout-offer#

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Instagram
BEST ONLINE FORUM FOR
DETROIT-BASED DISCUSSION
DetroitYES Awarded BEST OF DETROIT 2015 - Detroit MetroTimes - Best Online Forum for Detroit-based Discussion 2015

ENJOY DETROITYES?


AND HAVE ADS REMOVED DETAILS »





Welcome to DetroitYES! Kindly Consider Turning Off Your Ad BlockingX
DetroitYES! is a free service that relies on revenue from ad display [regrettably] and donations. We notice that you are using an ad-blocking program that prevents us from earning revenue during your visit.
Ads are REMOVED for Members who donate to DetroitYES! [You must be logged in for ads to disappear]
DONATE HERE »
And have Ads removed.