Who remembers the old Rest Station?

As an Alpena history buff, I generally know where many of the “used-to-be’s” were located in our town.

Bob Haltiner, Myra Herron, and I swapped a lot of stories about them.

So, does anyone know the whereabouts of the Alpena County Public Comfort and Rest Station?

CLUE: It was built in 1924, when most people walked, rode bicycles, or had horses for transportation. Automobiles were here, but the average family did not own one.

Neighborhoods had little grocery stores. However, most women canned, baked, and pretty much sustained the family with what was produced at home. Meat and fish were the exceptions for most city folks.

So, if the housewife wanted to shop for shoes, clothes, or a hat, or mail a package, she most likely walked from her home to downtown Alpena.

By now, I bet some of you have figured out the whereabouts of our mystery building. The old public restrooms at 300 S. 3rd Ave.!

Of course!

If you wanted to go downtown to shop, it could take a big slice of time from your day. Often, ladies would pack a sandwich and head to town. By the time they arrived, depending upon the time of the year, they may have been hot and sweaty or cold and in need of warming up.

That was the purpose of the Alpena County Public Comfort and Rest Station. It was segregated by gender. You’d enter one of two doors facing 3rd Avenue.

The men’s side was often the place where retired fellows sat and discussed the day’s happenings amongst themselves.

It made for a magnet for the young boys who would much rather be there than in school. The truant officer, Mr. Stout, used to make the place a regular stop on his travels rounding up young boys trying to play hooky. The custodian, Dory Montroy (if memory serves me), was always cooperative in letting him know when there were some miscreants lurking down in the basement.

The large, airy room on the main floor had the kind of oak chairs we used to see in the jury boxes in courtroom dramas. No nonsense, that building. But it filled a need — shelter and a place to eat a sandwich or just spend a few minutes resting before heading downtown. If one had to use the necessary or lavatory, you went down the stairs to the basement.

When word went out for a picture of the prairie-style building, it looked like there was none.

Bless the Angel who came to my rescue and gave me a small, black-and-white snapshot.

In the 1960s, it was sold, and it and the old Electric Service and Supply property went through a major renovation.

Today, if you look closely, standing on 3rd Avenue, you can still see the original stucco walls and prairie-style eaves of the original 1924 building.

It is another fond memory of our town that used to be.

Kathleen Melville-Hall comes from a long line of Irish raconteurs who arrived in Alpena in 1872. She snagged a BS at Michigan State University and rejoined the Navy to acquire more sea stories.


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