I get a lot of questions about the building on the corner of Swaney Road and Brinkman Road. Was it a hotel? A store? What was it, and who ran it?
I get requests about the history of this building at least once or twice a week, so here’s a little backstory on it. Hopefully, some of the Andruses, Brinkmans, Ryckmans or other people in the know will chime in with more info in the comments section at the bottom of this story.
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The building on the corner was, indeed a grocery store, known as Pearl Hill’s Grocery (Pearl was a man). Along with groceries in the store, Pearl also delivered groceries around the neighborhood in his wood paneled station wagon.
Below is a photo of Pearl Hill on the left, along with four other gentlemen (names unknown), on the porch of the store (date unknown, photo courtesy of the book “A Century of Service,” published by the Peninsula Telephone Co. in 2008).
Pearl looks like a happy guy, doesn’t he? I would venture to say that the man second from the right looks like a DeVol, but I’m just spitballing here. Notice that there’s a barn out behind the store which is no longer there. And, of course, the Beech-Nut Tobacco sign on the right.
Here’s that same photo today. Notice that the architectural detail on the porch seems to have survived all these years, as it looks the same in the original photo.
The store also housed an ice cream parlor, and there was a dance hall upstairs. When I was a kid growing up in Old Mission in the 1960s, you could go inside the building, and upstairs, there was still a cool old gramophone there – maybe used for the dances(?).
Interestingly, Pearl’s wife was also named Pearl. Formerly Pearl O. Andrus, she died on Nov. 3, 1964. According to her obituary in the Nov. 4, 1965, Traverse City Record-Eagle, she was born on June 15, 1885, in East Bay Township. In 1902, she married Pearl H. Hill, and the couple lived on the Old Mission Peninsula and operated Pearl Hill’s Grocery on the corner of Brinkman Road and Swaney Road until 1938.
Pearl H. Hill was born in 1880 and died in 1937, a year before the store was closed. And I’m guessing that’s WHY it closed.
Surviving at the time of Pearl O.’s death were seven children: Mrs. Frank (Opal) Lyke of Chatanooga, TN; Mrs. R.S. (Dorothy) MacDonald of Florida; Mrs. Edith Jamieson; Mrs. Guy (Myrtle) Case; and Mrs. Howard (Irene) Terry, all of Traverse City; and Mrs. Alex (Joan) McNevin of Detroit; and Richard of Saginaw.
I remember Mr. and Mrs. Terry well. Mr. Terry painted the exterior of our family’s house in Old Mission every few years, and his granddaughter Teri Gray still lives in Old Mission with her husband Brendan Keenan (who was in my class in school).
Also surviving at the time of Pearl O. Hill’s death were 15 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, several nieces, nephews and cousins, and her brother, Buff Andrus of Detroit.
Preceding Mrs. Hill in death were her husband, Pearl H. Hill, three sons and three brothers. Both Pearls are buried in the family lot at Ogdensburg Cemetery, on the corner of Center Road and Ladd Road.
I believe the building once known as Pearl Hill’s Grocery is now owned by the Ryckman family estate.
Other family buried in the Pearl Hill family plot in Ogdensburg Cemetery.