Farms around Godwin.
Fisher's Station
Fred's barber shop.
Godwin fire department.

Farms around Godwin

In 1900 the Godwin area was still almost entirely farms. The large 160 to 640 acre family farms of the mid 1850s were gradually being subdivided, and according to a 1907 Kent County plat map, there were a large number of 10, 20, and 40 acre farms along Division Avenue in the area of Godwin. The next step would be to suddivide the small farms in to housing plats. As happened all over the US, at some point the owners of a farm die, and those that inherit the land sell it to developers.

Left click on the image for a much larger version.

Photograph provided by John Kamstra, a local collector.

Located at 112 Allen Road ( now 112 36th Street ), the image above of the 10 acre Jared A. Keyes farm was likely taken around 1900. Born October 16, 1867, in to a large family of Keyes in the area, Jared Keyes was listed in the 1900 US Census for Paris Township as being a market gardener, and was renting the farm shown. By 1910 he apparently owned the farm, and was listed in the census as being a truck farmer. ( So was Frank Rackett at about this time. ) He died July 31, 1941. At the time of his death, the 10 acre parcel of land to the east of Jared A. Keyes farm was owned by Mrs. Horace Keyes. The house corresponding to that land stood on the southwest corner of Jefferson ( which only existed between 32nd and 36th in 1907 ). In the late 1950s the house was demolished, and an office building erected, which still exists in year 2007.

The houses shown above the greenhouses in the photo above appear to be on the west side of Division Avenue. It would be guesswork to say just who owned the large white house, for example, and the old farm houses along Division Avenue near 36th Street are all long gone in year 2007.

Note the dirt paths just above the horse in the photo above. Many older photos around the Godwin area show similar paths. People soon find the shortest path between two points, and these paths develop. In some photographs one can see these paths leading to Godwin, as kids all over the area found the best cut throughs from their homes to the school.

Perhaps after Jared keyes died in 1941, his land, and maybe the two small farms to the west of his, were sold for development. Francis and Keyes (now Horton ) were put in around this time, and are somewhat unusual in that they run north-south, rather than the more typical east-west arrangement of most of the streets in the area, which then end on Division and Jefferson ( Paris in 1907 ) Avenues. Some of the earliest examples of this were Exchange, Lexington, and Godwin Avenues, which are on the east side of Division Avenue, and south of 32nd Street ( Pennel Avenue in 1907 ). These were apparently subdivisions of the land owned by Clements. But in the early decades of the 20th century land ownership in the Godwin area was starting to change hands rapidly. The interurban line west of Division Avenue, opened in 1913, and later the Division Avenue bus line, which started operation in 1924 ( see section "D" ) made access to jobs in Grand Rapids from the Godwin area possible, and farm land was quickly platted for houses. Most of the Godwin farm had been sold off piecemeal, first as smaller farms, which then became housing. Frank Rackett sold his land to the school, and by 1948 he had left the area. The Godwin farm house burned in 1954, and one by one the farmhouses along Division Avenue disappeared. The farm house north of the Twin Cabins Tourist Court was likely the main house for the E. Lynch farm, which at one time owned the land that Godwin now occupies on the east side of Division Avenue. The Charity Payne ( later, Frank Rackett ) farm is now part of the Godwin school system, and has been since about 1937. The last piece, the land on the northwest corner of 36th and Division Avenue, formally became school property when Frank Rackett died, in about June, 1959.

Fred's Barber Shop

GPS coordinates: 42.896372, -85.664947

Fred's barber shop, located at 3744 Division Avenue, was an institution for many decades. A single chair shop in the 1950s, and probably in the 1940s. Typical of men's barber shops of the time, one wandered in and simply waited their turn. For those so inclined, there was always a good supply of comic books to wade through while waiting. Paul Haskin, class of 1953, says that Fred Hof(f)man bought his comics from him for use in the shop. Like banks of the time, the best times to get a hair cut without a long wait was while other people were working. On Saturday's the waiting line could be formidable. An oil heater kept the place habitable in the winter. In the summer it was warm to hot inside.

It's not clear when Fred Hof(f)man left the location. He lived on Calhoun, and like many of the business owners along Division, he lived in the community. Many barber shops folded, or nearly did so, in the 1960s and later as fashion ran to longer hair, infrequent hair cuts, and both sex hair establishments as men's hair style became more elaborate. As can be seen in the photographs below, the building still stands as of December, 2003. The building still houses a barber shop. The barber pole is now gone, and the green overhangs over the entrance and the front window did not exist in the 1950s. The tan paint on the bricks is probably more recent.

Left click on the images below for larger versions.

December 4, 2003.

December 4, 2003.

March 23, 2005.

Summer, 2012.

March 15, 2013.

March 15, 2013.

In the first photograph, top row, left, one can see that the "Shear & Comb Barber shop" occupies the building. In the third one a "For Sale" sign can be seen in the window, and the "Shear & Comb Barber Shop sign is gone." The building to the right of the the barber shop building is also vacant as of March 23, 2005. The two photos in the bottom row, center and right, show a significantly modified building as of March 15, 2013. There's no indication as to what the building houses, or will house.

Other barbershops along Division Avenue are shown below.

Left click on the images below for larger versions.

About 1821 Divison.

6569 Divison - Oct., 2012.

The days when someone could pay off a house mortgage, and perhaps send a child or two to college, from the proceeds of running a barber shop probably ended in the late 1960s, when long hair and often beards replaced the corporate cut. A "five chair" barber shop in a strip mall on Kalamazoo Avenue, near 44th Street, was flourishing in the late 1950s, and gone by the mid 1970s. A long term trend toward the ever more casual (sloppy?), and then later a trend toward unisex hair care, spelled the demise of most of the old style men's barbershops, which once catered to the generations long mandate for a clean cut look. The same trends that mostly eliminated dress codes. In the 1950s, and before, people had a concept of public dress, and there were things like dress codes for work and school. In year 2000 and after, if there is a dress code at all, it appears to more akin to a contest to see who can both spend the most money and end up appearing like they just shopped at a dumpster.

Godwin Heights fire department.

Left click on the image for a much larger version.

Image supplied by the Kentwood Historic Preservation Commission.

The Godwin Heights fire department is shown in a 1929 photograph. A volunteer organization even in to the 1960s yet, a call to the department would use the following directions. ( From an item in a 1929 scrap book compiled by the mother of Joanne (Dulyea) Hamilton, class of 1951 ) Those on the list to be call were familiar names in the Godwin area in 1929.

The image of the Godwin Height fire department building is from about 1935

Left click on the image below for a larger version.

Image supplied by Lillian Annis, class of 1941.

Where this firehouse stood is not clear - there are no obvious landmarks in the photograph.

Left click on the images below for larger versions.

The image above, split in to two pieces for size reasons, is the same as the newspaper image above it. The newspaper item can be used to obtain the names. Both are from a photograph taken by Chas. I. Harshberger. On the back of the photograph it also says "Group Photos a Specialty, Anytime, Anyplace in Michigan. 7 Michigan Street N.E. Grand Rapdis, Mich." The photograph was made available by the Kentwood Historic Preservation Commission"

Left click on the image below for a larger version.

The Godwin Heights fire department building at 3625 Horton Ave. ( Formerly Keyes Street. ) as it appeared on September 25, 2004, is shown above. Gray paint removes a sense of age that the former red brick construction imparted to the building. The covered windows and the fence are probably a modern reality. Just when the building was erected is not known here.

Fisher's Station.

Probably akin to the name Bowen Station, Fisher's Station was a stop on the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad as far back as 1876 - see below. Fisher was a common name in the area, and Fisher's Station, like Bowen Station, sported a general store, and some mining activities in the area. The general store building, and a house or two, survived into the 1950s, but in year 2012 there is no indication that Fisher's Station ever existed, again, like Bowen Station.

Left click on the images below for larger versions.

The image at the left, above, is from an 1876 Kent County plat map. It's not clear what the array of squares indicates. Note Kellogsville school in the upper right. The photograph in the middle is the Fisher's Station train stop, and probably a side track, as the route was never double tracked for long. The photograph at the right is dated 1952.