Photo Gallery of St. Johns in the Early 1900s
Around 40 years ago, I remember having to drive through St. Johns on my way north to Mackinaw. We had to drive up Old 27, through the town and a couple of stoplights, and yeah, it was a pain in the butt to have to stop. Now, with the I-69 freeway and the northern Lansing bypass, we can whiz right by St. Johns without having to stop at lights.
Even though US-127 now bypasses St. Johns, it gives the town a small amount of visitors, but at the same time keeps it free of getting overcrowded.
The town began in 1853 when state official John Swegles purchased the land, cleared it, and mapped it out. This area was named as a collaboration between Swegles and Reverend C.A. Lamb.....Lamb added the “Saint” part to Swegles' first name and the town became forever known as “St. Johns”. It became incorporated as a village and became the seat of Clinton County in 1857. By 1904 it had been re-classified as a bonafide city.
Sitting eighteen miles north of Lansing, St. Johns was also a railroad stop along the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, and featured an interurban transportation line to Lansing.
One of the major attractions of St. Johns is that many of its old downtown buildings are still intact. Just driving up and down Clinton Street gives you an idea of what the town looked like over 100 years ago.
But this article isn't intended to be a history lesson; rather, it's an opportunity to show you a gallery of old photos – many from over 100 years ago – of old St. Johns.