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Early Beginnings
Early 1900s
Clawson Continues to Grow


The “Little City with a Big Heart”, Clawson City is part of the Oakland County in Michigan which part of the Detroit metropolitan area. The city is best described as a neighborhood that has a super friendly environment where amenities are within a walking distance of 2.2 square-mile community.

Clawson city is one of many places in the country that’s a great place to live, work, and raise a family. Visitors are drawn to their events like the acclaimed Fourth of July celebration, Lion’s Club Show, Fall Festival and Cinema in the streets. Many people travel to Clawson because of their great seasonal outdoor Farmers Market during summertime and their indoor Market during cold winter.

But what makes Clawson City so charming, lively, and entertaining?


Early Beginnings

Two million acres of Michigan land was to be granted for the war veterans after the War of 1812. But the land surveyors claimed that the land was unfit for habitation, thus delaying settlement. The government then sent out new surveyors in 1818 to re-assess the land. The new discovery proved that the first land surveys were wrong and the land sales quickly started.


First Settlers

The first settlers came to the area and occupied the land sections now known as Bloomfield Township (3 and 4 of Town 1, Range 11 East and sections 33 and 34 of Town 2, Range 11 East).  Town 1 and 2 became Troy Township in 1827. Royal Oak separated from Troy in 1832 which became Royal Oak Township. This little town continued to grow within the following years until the village was incorporated in 1920.


First Roads

The first ever road was made in 1827 between the section lines. Known as the Niles Road in earlier times it’s now called the Main Street. It was named after Johnson Niles, who lived in Troy at square Lake and Main. His houses still stand today for anyone who wishes to see where the original main road was. Another one is the Rochester Road, an Indian Trail in 1829 before it was made as a plank toll road called Paint Creek Trail. 14 Mile road was first called Townline Road before and was constructed in 1874, now known as Clawson Road.


First Businesses

With the constructions of the road, it provides easy access to town. Small businesses and several industries first established near these roads. Two of the first establishments in Clawson were sawmills. James G. Johnson first dammed the Little Run Creek in 1832 which covers Red Run through his land crossing Main Street. He then built the first ever water-driven sawmill in Royal Oak Township. Dewitt Williams and Lorenzo Chillson built another mill in 1849 near the corner of 14 Mile and Main Street.


Early 1900s

During the early 1900s, Clawson city continued to grow. More houses were built, some were prefabricated – many of them are still standing today. As Businesses began thriving, more and more people chose Clawson as their abode.  As their desire to make their community a better and more beautiful place to live in, the Improvement Club was organized in 1903; it was later called as the Clawson Literary Society. Hoping to have “improvement in the community”, they first planted flowers along the railway station before moving into town.  The club changed its name to Clawson Woman’s Club in 1920. It was now known as the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Clawson, the oldest club in the city.


Motions Approved

Many residents showed their dissatisfaction in town due to lack of utilities and other major conveniences. There were several repeated movements to incorporate so they would have a local government of their own. On May 29, 1920, Governor Albert Sleeper approved their motions after injunctions by Royal Oak and Troy Townships.

As soon as their motions approved, the new village commission immediately began plans for a new sewer system in town. It ran from Jefferson to Washington and an open ditch on Broadacre. The Oakland County Sheriff deputized George Millard as a night watchman and the police department, as well as the fire department, was established in 1922. Their first village manager was hired in 1927.


By 1920s, more business started to boom and there were professional men in Clawson. The town had one lawyer, two physicians, and one dentist. David Cleary started Clawson’s first newspaper “The Clawson Journal” and men’s clothing store. As a postmaster, he was elected as the president of the village commission in 1925.


Clawson Continues to Grow

By 1940, Clawson was made into a city. Not after the World War II when the city really began to boom.  Nine years later, around 500 new homes were built along with two factories and two more commercial buildings were established. A weekly newspaper also started to circulate around the neighborhood.

It didn’t stop there, within the next few decades, more homes, commercial buildings, churches, and schools were built to accommodate the resident’s needs. In the 1960s they added new school buildings, post office, and new municipal.

However, with the ‘Great Depression’ that plagued America, Clawson population started to decline and some schools were closed. There were major efforts to rebuilt town during the last two decades of the 20th century through Downtown Development Authority. The city wanted to revitalize the downtown area of the city where some of the buildings date back to the 1920s. Today, Clawson still draw attention because of its country style living and scenic charm of the old days.


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