120-124 South Main Street
Bank Block, 1867 (Goodyear's)
Shortly after it opened as the "Bank Building" in 1867, this structure was described as having "a freestone front, in which are large and elegant stores, and the First National Bank." The First National Bank was the first federally chartered bank in Michigan and only the twenty-second such bank in the United States.
As one of the new buildings in town, it showed "__ the magnitude and growing importance of this inland city" according to the 1872 City Directory. An 1867 photograph graphically illustrates this importance. It shows the building's elaborate central Gothic facade, intended to draw attention to the bank, its primary tenant. The pointed-arch windows and doorways in this portion contrast with those of the flanking buildings that have round-topped windows in the more common Italianate style of the period. An elaborate pinnacled cornice topped the bank portion of the building, increasing its visual domination on Main Street.
The building was known throughout most of its history, however, as the Goodyear Building or simply as Goodyear's. In 1888 William Goodyear and Bruno St. James founded a retail clothing business at 120 South Main Street. This business was to stay and expand into the flanking buildings until 1983, only five years short of its centennial. Initially known as Goodyear and St. James, it became Goodyear's in 1895. From the 1950s through the early 1980s, Goodyear's was the primary retail anchor for the central business district.
The closing of Goodyear's in 1983 for non-payment of taxes was a severe blow to downtown retail trade. Yet in 1984, spurred by tax credits for historic preservation and the goodwill of the community, developers undertook an authentic restoration of the building based on the 1867 photograph.