A guide to Warren's History
Provided to you by the Warren Historical Commission with assistance from The Warren Historical Society and the Mayor's Office.
History of Warren
Settlers came to this area before Michigan was admitted to the union as a state in 1837. When Joseph Wampler surveyed the territory now known as Warren and Center Line in 1817, he found a lot of swamp occupied by a few squatters and some Indians. The land was placed on the market, but initial sales were slow.
Beebe's Corners, as the Village of Warren was once called, is also older than Warren Township. The "corners" was settled in 1830 and the first known landowner to actually settle here was Charles Groesbeck. He was soon followed by his brother Louis and Charles Rivard. Louis, who settled at what became the northwest corner of 12 Mile and Mound, hosted the organization of Hickory Township (later Aba, then Warren) on April 3, 1837, the year Michigan became a state.
Traveling north from Detroit, tollgate was located at the corner where travelers and farmers paid to use the road. Some of it was a plank road when it passed through a marshy part of town. Beebe’s Corners was an active place with a tavern, a distillery, a mill, and a trading post; all requisites for a meeting place.
This was to be the first seat of our town government and many years later, on April 28, 1893, became the Village of Warren. It was a one square mile area from 13 Mile Road to 14 Mile Road and extending one-half mile on either side of Mound Road.
A contributing factor in bringing people to Michigan was the Erie Canal. It provided transportation from the Hudson River to Lake Erie. This was the brain child of DeWitt Clinton, whose name is perpetuated in Michigan by the township and river in Macomb County. A degree of prosperity in the eastern part of the country enable many farm families to try their luck further west. Along with these eastern families came many immigrants from Germany, Belgium and France.
The Great Depression of the 1930’s ground all building and expansion to a halt. The election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1931 brought forth many programs to help. The WPA program provided public jobs, closed banks were reorganized and the general economy improved. During World War II, the Tank Arsenal (the "Arsenal of Democracy") was built. This was followed by the establishment of the GM Tech Center and Warren became the industrial center it is today.
October 27, 1956, was the date that Governor G. Mennen Williams signed the charter designating Warren as a city. Official operations of the Chartered City of Warren began January 1, 1957. Between 1960 and 1970, Warren’s population doubled, with new homes and shopping centers. Much of Old Warren remains, though, and it is the goal of the Warren Historical Society and the two Historical Commissions to maintain the sense of history which we pass on to future generations.
History of Warren? "All of Warren’s history is an outgrowth of Detroit, isn’t it?" At first glance, you would certainly think so. Afterall, the areas around Van Dyke and Eight Mile Road developed around 1919 when a mass movement of people came to Detroit from the deprived southern and middle-western states. Housing in Detroit was very scarce and the influx of workers could not be accommodated. This offered an opportunity for land developers to establish subdivisions. This is, of course, true, but there’s more.
In the 1780’s, several Christian Delaware Indians, escaping from marauding American militia, sought refuge on the Clinton River on land granted by the Chippewa. They were ministered to by the Moravian missionaries. The highway, the first interior road in Michigan, was laid out in the winter of 1785-1786 and connected the village with the fort at Detroit. Pioneers, mostly farmers, from New England settled the Warren area in 1832. Virgin forests supplied logs for the sawmills, which were located on 12 and 14 Mile Roads. A strap railroad, one of the first of its kind in Michigan, connected the settlement to Detroit and Utica. By 1875, the community (Beebe’s Corner) had two churches, a school and several business establishments. Warren does have a strong identification with Detroit, but it does retain its individual identity in its historic churches, homes, cemeteries and business establishments.
When Warren incorporated as a city, the city charter provided that Warren would establish the Warren Historical Commission. In addition, through the zoning laws, provisions were established for the Village Historic District Commission. The Warren Historical Society was an outgrowth of these commissions. These three groups have worked together, with the Bureau of History, Michigan Historical Commission and Michigan Department of State, to promote the erection of historical markers to commemorate the city’s history and historical sites.
The first state historical marker was the Groesbeck marker on Mound Road between 12 and 13 Mile Roads. Since that time several more of these have been added. The Michigan State markers can be identified by the Wolverine medallion at the top center of these markers.
Not all sites have been documented to the degree that the state and the property owner have agreed on the placement of a marker. The Village Historic District Commission has identified several sites which merit a marker and are erecting these a few at a time. These can be identified by the gazebo at the top center. The Warren Historical Commission has begun to place markers throughout the city. These carry the horse and carriage insignia at the top center.
Contact the Commission by mail at:
Warren, MI 48092