History of our Building

John Almon Starr House Royal Oak MI

John Almon Starr House

Our building is the historical John Almon Starr house.¬† John Almon Starr (1828-1895) and his wife, Nancy Quick (1831-1895), built this house in 1868 from bricks fired in Almon’s tile factory. Almon and his parents had emigrated to Michigan from Richmond, New York, in 1831, the same year Nancy was born in Royal Oak Township. Almon and his father, Orson Starr, manufactured animal bells until 1866, when Almon started his brick yard and tile works at this location, later known as Starr Corners. The house was occupied by the Starr family until 1967.

The John Almon Starr house is located on a site which contains a last visible segment of the Detroit to Saginaw Indian Trail.

For more information on the Detroit to Saginaw Indian Trail, read the official Wikipedia page here.


History of the Detroit to Saginaw Indian Trail

The Saginaw Trail, running from Detroit to Saginaw through Pontiac and Flint, was originally an Indian Trail. In 1816 Michigan territorial government authorized the building of a road from Detroit to Saginaw along the trail. Part of the trail in Oakland County is now Woodward Avenue and Dixie Highway. Evidence of the original Saginaw Trail’s path through Royal Oak is still visible as a Depression in the ground running northwesterly across the property adjacent to the John Almon Starr House.


The Indian Trail

The Indians who traveled this trail might have been going from their summer homes on the Detroit River to their winter homes inland from Pontiac northward to the Saginaw area. In the spring they would make the trip in reverse.

If they were moving with the change of season, they would be carrying their clothing, household goods like pots for cooking, and skins or thatch to cover their next home. If they were on a trading trip, they would be carrying produce from the farms on the riverbanks to communities inland, and returning with furs. If they were on a hunting trip (men only), they would carry their hunting weapons.

There is no proof that this path was used as a war path. However, a study of the Siege of Detroit by Chief Pontiac shows that he and his braves could have used this path. Pontiac planned an attack on the fort at Detroit in May of the year 1763, before there was a United States of America. When his surprise was foiled, he laid siege to the fort for six months. During this time, the British executed a surprise attack on the Indians and suffered great losses. There is confusion in some local accounts that Red Run Creek in Royal Oak, Michigan received its name because of this battle. However, it was Bloody Run, which goes through Elmwood Cemetery in downtown Detroit, which was the site of that event, not Red Run. No matter how it got its name, Red Run is an important part of Royal Oak’s history. The twists and turns of Vinsetta Blvd. are that way because the road was laid out to follow the meanderings of the creek, and the bridges on Vinsetta Blvd. actually¬† bridged the open water until the creek was contained in an underground conduit in 1926 and 1927.

Links to more resources on the history of our building:

Way Marking

Night Train to Detroit

Detroit 1701