My Town Monday: First Impression

About the center of Livingston County is the city of Howell. Howell lies about halfway between Lansing and Detroit and that’s no coicidence. It was a stop along the Grand River Trail before there was even a road. Originally, the town was called “Livingston Center” a fitting name, if not one that’s entirely uninspired.

The Livingston County Seat is located in Howell. You can tell by the map I poached from Google Maps that there’s still plenty of green in the Howell Area. A couple lakes. Not too crowded (though getting there…;-) It’s a rather pleasant little city.

So, to get to Downtown Howell, perhaps for one of our few attractions– which include the Festival of Lights, the Melon Fest and the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest or perhaps to visit the Carnegie Library or the County Courthouse or ride the Santa Train– one would travel down I-96. The best way to get to the downtown area is to get off at D-19. And one of the first sights to greet you is this:

A pair of abandoned houses. One boarded up and looking rather forlorn. The other melting with decay. Especially if you get off Westbound 96, you’ll wait at the traffic light staring straight at these two properties. Welcome to Howell.

We have a quaint historic district, lots of cool old architecture, but the first thing we want to show you are these two old negelcted properties.

Occaisionally, rumors buzz about a new road that would bypass the downtown, a route for semi-trucks to keep them out of hte historic downtown area. The construction of the loop road would take care of these two old houses. But in the meantime, we sure know how to put our best face forward.

Now, I’ll admit that one of the things that always astounds me is how hard it seems to be for a city to knock down a derelict building that’s on the verge of falling down itself. Though, these old houses are often rather tenacious, holding on and standing long enough to be trashed by vandals and punks and drug addicts. I think it would be better to have a pile of rubble than a house that some squatter or kid could get into. Most people aren’t drawn to piles of rubble.

There’s plans to “beautify” D-19 (or Michigan Ave as it’s called coming into town). Plans to put in some roundabouts and traffic lights and flowers and such. But these plans never address the sorry first impression that one gets. There is only ever one first impression. And Howell’s first impression is akin to walking into someone’s house and finding dirty undies on the dining room table.

And it’s not like these houses were recently abandoned. There’s no excuse for this.

So, if you happen out to Howell, try to ignore the way we great you. The downtown’s much nicer.

(I was too busy to get out and take my own pix, so I poached these. =)
We’ve got some great history and some neat things in this town. Not eaxactly a hopping tourist attraction, but it’s still a pleasant town. If you’re not scared off before you get here.