Actors'
Colony
at Bluffton
1908 - 1938
_____________

Buster Keaton
and the
Muskegon Connection

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The Trip to Bluffton

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Incorporated in March 1899 by Arch W. Shaw and Louis C. Walker, the Shaw-Walker Company originally located in two vacant stores on the side-street frontage of the Opera House block in downtown Muskegon. The business occupied an area measuring 36 x 70 feet.
 
The company relocated a year later to a new one story building at Seventh St. and Western Avenue. Within four years, Shaw-Walker had grown from 11 employees to 175 with sales of it's filing devices in every state in the U.S. and beyond. (The one story building was later occupied by Muskegon Laundry, and in later years, the Gospel Mission. It was razed in 1954.)
 
 
A consolidation with the Muskegon Cabinet Company in 1903 began a shift of manufacturing to the Muskegon Cabinet location on W. Western Ave between Division and Hudson. Within six months, work began on expanding the three story facility.
 
In 1911, a three story 66-foot square office building was constructed at the corner of Division and Michigan Avenue using attractive paving bricks for the facade. A five-story addition followed. Constructed at the corner of W. Western and Division, the building was designed in 1912 by Albert Kahn, "the foremost American industrial architect of his day," and his associate, Ernest Wilby. Built in early 1913, the structure housed manufacturing of the company's latest line of products - steel filing cabinets.
 
  
 
With the addition to the product line, Shaw Walker saw continued growth. The slogan, "Built Like a Skyscraper" began to appear in advertising around 1917.
 
 
The Stewart Hartshorn Company. Manufacturers of spring shade rollers, 1912 advertising indicated that the plant had 385,000 square feet of floor space and occupied 36 acres of land, with 2 miles of dock frontage boarding the shore of Muskegon Lake.
 
 
Later redeveloped into shopping destination known as Lumbertown.
 
The Muskegon Brewing Company at Lakeshore Drive and Muskegon Avenue. Muskegon Brewing Company
The old offices of the Muskegon Brewing Company once located at the top of Brewery Hill.
 
Alexander Rodgers house - 1259 Lakeshore Drive - today known as the Port City Victorian Inn Bed & Breakfast.
 
In 1912, lumberman Thomas Hume donated money for the construction of an "Old People's Home" at the intersection of Lake Street and Southern Avenue.
Today, it is know as the Hume Home.
 
Standard Oil Tanks - Muskegon
The former location of a sawmill, in the spring of 1912, this site fronting Muskegon Lake and the mouth of Ruddiman Creek was purchased by the Standard Oil Company for the erection of large petroleum storage tanks. According to 1924 press reports, the location could store up to 16,000,000 gallons of gasoline. Serviced by the railroad, after decades of use, the approximately 16 acre site was shut down in 1991 and the tanks were removed. Public access to the waterfront was restored with the City of Muskegon's purchase of the property, and the building of the Lakeshore Bike Path, rimming the southern shore of Muskegon Lake.
 
Lake Street vehicular bridge, constructed 1891. 
 
photo by Dick Stauss, November 1985  
Cattle at Ruddiman's Creek.
 
Lakeside Business District, Muskegon The Lakeside shopping district.
 
 
 
With the demise of the lumbering industry, local leaders saw the need to diversify the local economy.  In 1889, Chase Brothers was drawn to Muskegon by the Muskegon Board of Trade (later known as the Chamber of Commerce) from Grand Rapids. It was the first of numerous businesses to open in or relocate to Muskegon. 
 
Central Paper Company, around 1912.  The plant dates from 1899 when Eugene Meurer arrived from Germany, with plans to manufacture paper.  He purchased 15 acres next to the Chase-Hackley Piano Company, on the shore of Muskegon Lake. The mill was closed in 2009 and demolition of the facility began in 2012.
 
Muskegon Country Club The Muskegon Country Club. In October 1908, the Muskegon Golf Club purchased land for a course. Scottish designer Tom Bendelow, nicknamed the Johnny Appleseed of American Golf, was employed to layout the property. In 1920, the group contracted with famed course designer Donald Ross for a major redesign.
 
 
Linderman Machine Co. on Lake St. (now Lakeshore Dr.) in 1911. It would later be known as Linderman Steel and Machine Co and during the war years, the company switched over to the manufacture of munitions.  Ultimately, the plant was purchased by Borg-Warner and operated for many years as Norge Machine Products.