[Those Places Thursday] Frankenmuth : “A Modern Arcadia” circa 1898

Frankenmuth, known for its Bavarian-style architecture and family-style chicken dinners, has been a tourist attraction for decades. When did it begin to gain its popularity as a great place to visit? I had heard it began during the Prohibition era when it earned some fame as a place to get a good meal and possibly some bootleg beer. But it seems it was gaining a reputation long before then as asserted in the following 1898 article, transcribed below, from The Saginaw Evening News.

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A Modern Arcadia. 

Such Might Frankenmuth be Regarded by a Poet.

If the Pen of Longfellow could be provoked from its long and silent rest, a fruitfield would be offered for its inspired mission in the peaceful and prosperous village of Frankenmuth. This place has become famous throughout the state because of its peculiarities of customs and the uniform contentedness of its people. Settled in 1845 by sturdy and industrious settlers, it has ever preserved an individuality and worked out its own destiny regardless of the changes which take place in the outside world.

The village has always been cut off from railroads and being compelled at first to depend entirely upon themselves, the inhabitants grew to be almost entirely self-supporting. Almost everything that they need is manufactured right in their own village, and besides supplying their own wants they export many articles of commerce to the outside world. The German arts of brewing, wine-making, cheese-making, flour milling and weaving are all brought to perfection there.

Perhaps the most striking feature of Frankenmuth life is the religious side of its existance [sic]. When the earliest settlers were yet on their way to the country they organized a church and called it St. Lorenz Lutheran church. A building was erected as soon as possible after settling the village and that later gave place to the splendid edifice, capable of seating 2,000 people which now stands as a monument to the religious spirit of the people. On each anniversary of the dedication of the church a festival is held which attracts thousands of people from miles around. This occurs the last Sunday in August.[1]

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Frankenmuth, Michigan, circa 1895. [2] St. Lorenz Lutheran Church is visible in  the right background.
Frankenmuth, Michigan, circa 1895. [2] St. Lorenz Lutheran Church is visible in the right background.

Reference Notes:

[1] “A Modern Arcadia,” The Saginaw (Michigan) Evening News, 29 June 1898, p. 5, col. 3; digital images, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 14 January 2014).

[2] E. A. Mayer, Geschichte der Evangelisch-Lutherischen St. Lorenz-Gemeinde U. A. C. zu Frankenmuth, Mich. (St. Louis, Missouri: Concordia Publishing House Print., 1895), n. p. (placed prior to title page); digital images, Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 8 January 2015).

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