One of my vows this year was “no more two-parters.” If I have a lot of pictures, you’ll get them all. Why, otherwise you’d forget whatever misimpression I gave you the first time, and form a new misimpression without the cherry-picked evidence I’d shown last week.

Case in point: Hamtrack. Wikipedia:

Hamtramck is a city in Wayne County in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 22,423. Hamtramck is surrounded by the city of Detroit except for a small portion of the western border that touches the similarly surrounded city of Highland Park.

Known in the 20th century as a vibrant center of Polish American life and culture, Hamtramck has continued to attract immigrants, especially Bangladeshis. In 2015 its city council became the first majority Muslim city council in the U.S.

I didn’t know that.

As if it was sealed in volcanic ash, then cleaned away:


No one dared change the name. It was engraved on the earth itself.

A perfect example of a building that can elevate and diminish the individual at the same time:


Elevates you by its majesty, your cultural connection to its style and history, and your participation in the rites of this temple. Diminishes it by remind you that you’re small.

Old big-city shopping areas that had demographic change usually have a lot of classic signage -

But in this case someone took off the big letters.

Still a nice piece of 50s commercial style.


The Grant Building. Somewhere there's a Grant who's descended from this builder, and I wonder if they know about this building.

Another old facade, waiting for the mid-century moderns to discover it and turn it into a store selling Tupperware. Oh wait! They already have!


This, you suspect, was someone’s vision. An architect who did no other buildings. Died young of consumption. Just a guess.


The ground floor has a punishing version of Buckaroo Revival: naked mine-shaft timbers.

Best guess: a sign or architectural feature was stripped off. But why do the area in two types of stone?

Mom doesn’t get her purse and hose here anymore.



If I had to bet money, I’d say “independent variety store that proclaimed its famous reputation for low prices.”


Nope! Found it. Don’t ask how. Federal Furniture store.

Except no, I’m right!

The entire chain went out of business in the late 1970s, and many of the old store buildings were mysteriously plagued by fires. Hamtramck’s building was spared and became a discount store

Standard old office block. Odd things happened to the top floor.







Review from the summer of 2018:

I liked this place when it was a greasy dive and before it closed and was taken over by hipsters. Here's my take on the new, now closed, Campau…

Smoking marijuana in the doorway. Not beside the doorway, not down the street from the doorway, they were in the doorway having some tokes.

Two visits found most of the stools, there's only about five seats in the whole place, occupied by what appeared to be the same dirty looking young people who were just hanging out.

Hamburger was okay, Nothing to write home about...did I mention that it closed?

It’s supposedly a taco joint now. What jarred me was the obvious sign of a White Tower, the White-Castle doppelgänger chain. The facade is amazing.

Things like that used to be everywhere.

Tarted up and still standing is better than razed:

A rare style for a bank. Needs a moat and a spiked iron gate.


Did they have walk-up tellers?

Off-the-shelf decorations, but they gave a building dignity:


It’s the Dr. Dysarz building. He was a local pol as well, frequently running for mayor, always unsuccessfully.

“Dude said he was a friend of Carnegie. Never knew what he meant.”

Today? It’s a mosque.







A humble start to this year's entry. Population: 3,460, give or take a few souls. It has ambition, though: the hotel no doubt made everyone think of the bustling train depot in old Gotham, with its brisk, sophisticated cosmopolitan scene.

It has a Facebook page. One comment: "The rooms are clean upon arrival but not much by way of getting towels and tp on a regular basis if your stay is extended. We ended up having to buy our own. Owners are really friendly though." That counts for more than you might think,

Unhappy brickwork on that green building. But a ghost sign redeems the view:

Owl Cigars. But was it a White Owl? That's what I don't know. Some signs for the White Owl brand said just Owl. If they'd have had modern marketing sensibiilties, they would have had White Owl, Black Owl, and so on, differentiating the flavors.

Barn Owl for the really nasty cheroots.

And what, pray tell, do they sell here?

I have no idea what they're talking about. One guy sitting at a card table with a stack of daily periodicals, waiting for someone to walk by and think "by cracky, I wonder how many they have. I'd like to read a journal from a different city entirely, just to see how many funerals there are for old ladies this week."

That's a lot of turret, Mr. Hetzel.

A Nebraska historical journal says "A majority of the structures are best classified as commercial vernacular. The most prominent, Queen Anne-style building is the Hetzel Block (NH01-044), located on the southeast corner of J Street and Central Avenue. It features an imposing corner tower, carved stonework and an ornate cornice."

And that's a big fat lot of help. Who was Hetzel?

Four buildings? Or one?

The answer can be found in the number of windows.

After all these towns we've explored, you have to admit: this is all too typical. From the rehab to the awning to the paint to the refitted window.


As if a curse had stricken the land.

I have to think there was more to this one, but what remains is spectacular:


The reason for those windows? If you guessed "hall for secret Masonic rites," you're wrong. It was the New Opera House. Again, scant historical information; Auburn seems underwhelmed by its past, or disinclined to share what it knows.

Can't have the Main Streets feature without the OSA, or Obligatory Shingled Awning:

The first-floor windows above the main windows are probably bricked up for good, but the building looks like it could be restored with minimal work.

Providing there was a market for office / residential at the price it would take to fix it up, and I'm guessing there isn't. But that's what they said about Fargo before its renaissance.

The last building in the world you'd expect to house a theater:

It's still in business! The site has a "Save the State" page, though. Uh oh. Turns out it's for a renovation drive. There are no historical photos of the place. There's no history of the place.

I suppose if you needed to know, you'd know, because you lived there. It was originally the Booth - great name for a theater in a state whose capital is named Lincoln - and was renamed the state in 1941, eleven years after it opened.

Finally: The sign version of screen burn-in.

  Love that 9, although I'm sure everyone wondered why they did it backwards.


I believe this old book of biographies has our man:

Previous to his coming to Nebraska Mr. Keedy was for several years engaged in the manufacture of lime at Keedysville. He came west in 1881, locating near what was then called Sheridan, now Auburn, and here he bought one hundred and sixty acres of improved land, upon which he carried on farming until the fall of 1893, when he sold to his sons, and bought two lots in Auburn. Here he built his present residence.

When a young man in Maryland, Mr. Keedy was intiated into the mysteries of Oddfellowship. Politically, he is what is termed an independent, and in religion he also holds independent views, and has never identified himself with any creed.

There has to be a fascinating story about the reason a man named Keedy would leave Keedysville.