The "Haley Block" was the last of a succession of buildings in this area beginning sometime prior to 1871. These buildings were built and rebuilt to house the Haley Sisters Millinery Shop. Five successive structures burned, the first being lost in the great fire of 1871. On January 1st, 1883, the shop at 419 River Street was damaged by fire along with eight other buildings. Fortunately, the building retained its facade through the blaze and the sisters were able to rebuild the store as it had been, an elaborate wood frame and brick veneer structure.
They also began construction of [a] similarly designed double business block directly west of their main store. Wisely, the new portion of the store at 421-423 River Street was constructed with walls of solid brick to lessen the impact of future fires. The sisters contracted with a Milwaukee firm to provide one ornate galvanized iron cornice for all three Italianate storefronts. The corniceline was, and today remains, Manistee's most elaborate.
The building was owned by the Haley family until the 1930's. The Haley's business was housed at 419 River Street. The initial tenant of 421 River Street was William Nungesser, an undertaker and furniture dealer. The 423 River Street segment initially was a grocery store operated by A.S. Haines. Numerous tenants subsequently occupied
the three shops including a grocery store, a drug store, a florist, the Railway Express Company, the Salvation Army headquarters, a restaurant, and a State Liquor Store.
The building was described as follows in the National Register nomination: "The Haley block is a fine example of High Victorian Italianate styling applied to a small-town commercial building. The two story brick building, measuring about sixty feet in width, is divided into three storefront bays, each with three double-hung, one-over-one sash balanced at the second floor level. The elaborate metal cornice over fine decorative brick corbelling presents a small name pediment at its center. Below the cornice of each bay is a narrow, raised wood decorative spandrel. Beaneath [sic] the windows rests a secondary cornice with decorative end blocks coinciding with the first floor's support piers. The storefronts are defined by these masonry piers and with Manistee-fabricated cast iron columns which frame each storefront door. A door leading to the upper story separates the west and center storefronts."
Year Built: 1883
First Owner: Ellen, Eliza and Kate Haley
Style: High Victorian Italianate
Address: 419, 421, 423 River Street