In the 1840s and 1850s, the community that grew up around the depot was known by the old-timers as the "East Side." A rivalry over business development in Ypsilanti between East side and the West side, the dividing line being the Huron River, was destructive to the economic growth of the community. In 1857 the East siders seceded from the village of Ypsilanti.
It was through the efforts of the pioneer businessman Mark Norris, that the Cross Street bridge was finally built linking the two villages in 1859. In that same year, the village charter was signed and Chauncy Joslin was elected Ypsilanti's first mayor. A new City Hall and jail (6 West Cross) were built near the Northwest end of the Cross Street bridge.
The Italianate Commercial style building, formerly the Huron House at (25-27 East Cross) was built by Benjamin Follett, M. Norris, I.G. Corklin & M.L. Shutts in 1859. The west portion (17 & 19 East Cross) was later added and became known as the Follett House. The three story hotel held a ballroom on the third floor, sleeping rooms on the second floor, and retail shops on the street level. It was said to be the grandest on the Michigan Central Railroad Line. It had steamed heat and guests dined on fish caught fresh from the Huron River. Many well known entertainers, including Tom Thumb, Buffalo Bill Cody and
singer Jenny Lind performed in the ballroom. At one time the ballroom was also used by the Ypsilanti High School basketball team for home games.
In Michigan : Thomas Edison, raised in Port Huron, sold newspapers on the Grand Trunk Railway that ran between Detroit, Mt. Clemens and Port Huron in 1959.
American Events: Ratification of the 13th Amendment t the U.S. Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, freed slaves in 1865.
Donated by Scott & Freda Klaassen