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    Learn About the History of Fenton

    5 months ago · ·Comments Off on Learn About the History of Fenton

    Learn About the History of Fenton

    Justin Becker

    Updated: July 6, 2020

    Fenton is a city seemingly tucked away from it all. That being said, once there, you will notice this hidden gem has a lot to offer. If you have recently relocated here or are in the process of moving, getting a better feel for the area can be beneficial.

    Often the best way to become more familiar with a place is to learn about its past or history. You can start small and learn more about your manufactured/mobile home community, which is highly recommended in general, or you can dive right in.

    With that being said, to help guide you in your journey through Fenton’s past, here is a brief timeline of important events that shaped this city and made it into what it is today.

    1830s to 1860s

    The city of Fenton was discovered by mistake. In 1834, a man by the name of Clark Dibble went out on an expedition, you could say. In his attempt to make his way to Grand Blanc, which was called Grumlaw at that time, Dibble accidentally happened upon a serene, virtually untouched, northern area by the Shiawassee River. Dibble stayed for almost two years before returning to Grand Blanc, where he then persuaded a number of families to relocate. By 1836 this area was named Dibbleville and had less than 20 people living by the river in a total of 2 houses. There was also a single sawmill.

    It was not until 1837 that Dibbleville was officially renamed. Thanks to a card game between William M. Fenton and Robert LeRoy, one night in August, 1837, this city was subsequently named after the winner. The winner, William M. Fenton, was a lawyer and a land speculator, but the fun did not stop there. Robert LeRoy’s winnings gave rise to LeRoy Street. The pair then proceeded to name many of the streets in the city—street names which are still used today. However, it’s worth mentioning that Fenton was not recognized as an official city until 1964, so in the meantime it  was known as the Village of Fenton.

    1870s to 1910s

    Of course, it was not all fun and games for Fenton and LeRoy. They founded this city in hopes of making Fenton a shipping center when, and if, the railroad line made its way to the area.  Well, as luck would have it, that’s precisely what happened in the 1850s; the railroad depot they built was fully operational for almost 30 years before burning to the ground in 1880. Though the fire did set things back for a time, by 1882, a brick depot was constructed in its place, and operations continued for decades to come.

    1920s to 1950s

    The rail line was, in many ways, the lifeblood of the city. In fact, for more than 100 years, the railroad only went as far as Fenton. Thus, this city’s residents and anyone in Flint, Saginaw, and the far northern parts of Michigan relied on this commercial and transport center. By the 1920s, the new brick depot had stood the test of time, until a 1923 fire. However, the fire only damaged the roof of the railroad depot. Subsequently, the roof was repaired, and the structure is still standing to this day (though now used for various offices).

    1960s to 1990s

    Up until 1974, in fact, the Fenton railroad depot was still a vital part of the community. However, this city’s economy eventually shifted, and most individuals began working in manufacturing positions, self-employment jobs, retail trade, healthcare, and city offices. Consequently, as briefly mentioned, the railroad depot is now a historical site with offices. Likewise, a good portion of the downtown district in this city has stayed true to its roots and retained much of the aesthetics of the past.

    2000s to Present

    Present-day Fenton continues to honor its rich past while still reinventing itself. Now, in addition to a lovely downtown district, Fenton has ample shopping at the Silver Lake Shopping Center. This city’s population has also risen from a few families to 11,000+ people. Manufacturing, healthcare, and retail trade occupations still rank high here as well. Suburban areas, mobile home communities, and other affordable housing are in abundance, and let’s not forget the wealth of outdoor recreation everywhere you turn.

    Everyday Life In Fenton

    Moving to Fenton will not be easy, as moving rarely is, but once you get settled into your new manufactured/mobile home—make time to take it all in. This lovely city has so much to offer and continues to be a great place to live and work. Of course, you do not have to take our word for it. Take a break from all your unpacking and explore your new community. You will not be disappointed here. Nevertheless, maybe start slow and take a relaxing walk alongside the Shiawassee River—the river actually flows right through the center of town in a lush park.

    Exploring Your Community

    If you prefer to dive right in to your new community, on the other hand, then there are a variety of things to see and do here. For starters, now that you have brushed up on this city’s history, bring the past to life by checking out the many historical sites and wonders in Fenton. After you have had your fill of the past, head on down to one of the 58 lakes and enjoy yourself. While you are out and about, remember to try the local funfair and grab a bite to eat—you definitely have some tasty options here.

    Historical Sites

    Your first stop on your history tour should be the railroad depot. This building will give you a real sense of where it all started; plus, show you how much has changed since the 1830s. Next, stop by the A.J. Phillips Fenton Museum and Historical Society. Here, you will find extensive genealogy records, vintage clothing, tools, equipment, military items, and more. Better still, the building itself has its own fascinating story, dating back to the 1900s. This is also the place to learn how things turn out for William M. Fenton and Robert LeRoy.

    Outdoor Recreation

    After the history comes the lake party, maybe? Whether you prefer fishing, swimming, water sports, or boating, you have ample lakes to visit and several options for outdoor recreation. Moreover, it will surely take some time to explore all 58 lakes that are within a 10-mile radius of this city. So, in the meantime, make sure you have all your lake essentials.

    When you are ready, we recommend starting with the largest lake of them all, Lake Fenton. You can easily spend a whole weekend just enjoying all the sights and sounds at this amazing lake. Finally, for those who prefer nature trails, parks, biking paths, golfing, cornhole tournaments, and winter sports like ice climbing, never fear—Fenton has you more than covered on that front as well.


    As you can see, Fenton residents definitely know how to work up an appetite. So, it’s no wonder that there are over 60 restaurants, local eateries, and bars just around the corner from your new manufactured/mobile home community. With almost every kind of cuisine available, it might be hard deciding on your favorite spot just yet, but that’s alright. Try these notable places, that you can only get a taste of here—the Fenton Fire Hall Kitchen &Taproom, the Laundry, Lucky’s Steak House, Fenton Winery & Brewery, Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar, and Beale Street Smokehouse BBQ. Ultimately, these are just a few more reasons why you will be happy you moved.

    Tags: Fenton Michigan

    Categories: Neighborhood

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    About The Author

    Justin Becker

    Justin Becker is a property owner in the state of Michigan and has a passion for managing communities. He owns both apartment complexes and mobile home communities and has been writing his own blogs for his properties for several years.