“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Pentwater in Oceana County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

White Elephant

White Elephant Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, August 3, 2017
1. White Elephant Marker
1891 — Mr. G. A. Williams of Chicago submitted to the people of Pentwater a proposal to build a summer Resort hotel costing $75,000 and $10,000 for furnishing it. In return, the Village would donate the site and give $15,000 towards it. It would be named for Mr. Williams wife, Valeria. Pentwater Township voted a $20,000 bonus to Mr. Williams on completion.

1893 — Mr. Williams spent $100,000 trying to complete the exterior. When it was still not done in 1908, the town panicked and the property reverted back to the State. Pentwater used the proposed bonus money to pay back taxes.

1910 — Pentwater gave the structure and land, valued at more than $100,000, to F. O. Gardner, a local businessman, on the condition that he spend $5,000 on repairs. He did the repairs and reserved the right to use one of the rooms as the Town Hall. Before giving the White Elephant to Gardner, there was a grandiose plan to make it into a mammoth ice plant. It was to be the largest in Michigan, but like many other ideas, it never materialized.

Mr. Gardner tried to obtain manufacturing institutions throughout his ownership. One proposal was by L. C. Haight of Muskegon. He wanted to start knitting mills in the building but nothing came of it.

Sometimes during these years, the ground floor of the tower
Image Close-up image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, August 3, 2017
2. Image Close-up
was used as a farmer's market. The floor was a work of art, marvelously designed and perfectly matched hardwood, so it was a shame to see it used for sand potatoes.

1921-  Mr. Gardner sold the building to J. L. Littler, a retired Chicago businessman who owned other business property in town.

The floor plan contained the Tower Theater and stage with a seating capacity of 500. The Grand Hall/Gynmasium hosted basketball games and dances. The building also contained the library an village offices.

It burned down in 1928, but enough brick was saved to build the Miracle Theater and create the Village Green.
Erected by Pentwater Historical Society.
Location. 43° 46.77′ N, 86° 25.992′ W. Marker is in Pentwater, Michigan, in Oceana County. Marker is on South Hancock Street (Business U.S. 31) south of Second Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at the entrance to the Pentwater Village Green. Marker is in this post office area: Pentwater MI 49449, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Lites Drug Store (within shouting distance of this marker); Gustafson's (within shouting distance of this marker); Pet Hollywood
White Elephant Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, August 3, 2017
3. White Elephant Marker
(within shouting distance of this marker); Cosmic Candy (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Pentwater Methodist Church (about 600 feet away); Ships and Shipping (about 700 feet away); Graveyard of Ships / Veterans' Day Storm (about 800 feet away); The Lumber Industry (about 800 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pentwater.
Categories. Industry & CommerceMan-Made Features
Credits. This page was last revised on August 18, 2017. This page originally submitted on August 18, 2017, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan. This page has been viewed 102 times since then and 28 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on August 18, 2017, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan.
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