City of Lapeer, Michigan
City of Lapeer, Michigan
City of Lapeer, Michigan
City of Lapeer, Michigan
Resident Visitor Business
Elected Officials  |  Feedback
Search |  Directory  |  Site Map  |  Home
Sign up for notices
subscribe
Access Meetings
meetings
Track Events
calendar
Read News Online
news
Services Departments
 
Pix Theatre
Lapeer Center
for the Arts
GALLERY 194
Downtown
Housing
Schools
Library
Community
Center
History
 
   
     
 

City Hall
576 Liberty Park
Lapeer, MI 48446
P: (810) 664-2902
F: (810) 664-2610
TDD: (810) 245-4216
E: info@ci.lapeer.mi.us

 

 

Boasting one of the oldest continuously active courthouses in the state of Michigan, Lapeer was platted in 1833, four years before Michigan became a state. The Lapeer County Courthouse, originally built in 1846, is one of the 10 oldest courthouses in the United States, and one of the 50 most significant buildings in Michigan. Lapeer was a village until 1869 when it became a city.

Learn more about our community’s history:

 

County of Lapeer

By an ordinance of the Congress of the United States passed on July 13, 1787, the area lying northwest of the Ohio River, though still occupied by the British, was organized as the Northwest Territory. Lapeer County was once part of the Northwest Territory. In January of 1820, the county of Oakland was formed, which served the area now known as Lapeer, until the County of Lapeer was formed in 1837, when Michigan became a state. The first elections were for county officers, with 520 persons voting in 1837.

Top

 

How did Lapeer get its name?

Folklore claims Lapeer was derived from the naming of the south branch of the Flint River, which flows northwestward over quite a long distance of rocky bed in Lapeer County. French and Indian traders frequently passed over this section of the county and through the river, ultimately naming our city for the stone that lay at the river bottom. The translation of stone in French is Le Pierre; the English translation of the Canadian French accent of this word is Lapeer. The river was named Flint, synonymous with stone.

It is also believed that our first settlers who came from New York State may have brought the name Lapeer from a similarly named city in their home state. A third supposition is that French missionaries named the city Le Pere, meaning The Father.

Top

 

First Settlers

The first settler in Lapeer was Alvin N. Hart, who was born in Cornwall, Connecticut, on February 11, 1804. He came to Lapeer in 1831 and platted the Village of Lapeer, November 8, 1833. The plat was registered in Pontiac on December 14, 1833, in the County of Oakland; four years before Michigan became a state and Lapeer became a county.

Alvin H. Hart became a State Senator in 1843, representing Lapeer, Oakland, Genesee, Shiawassee, Tuscola, Saginaw Counties and the entire Upper Peninsula. He was instrumental in having the State Capitol relocated from Detroit to Lansing. Hart died on August 22, 1874, and is buried in Lapeer. Mrs. Kate Rhead is his great-great granddaughter.

The second settler, Enoch J. White, was born in South Hadley, Massachusetts in 1814. He came to Lapeer in 1833. Of pioneer stock, Alvin N. Hart and Enoch J. White both had the initiative to start new communities. Mr. Hart formed Lapeer and Mr. White formed what was then known as Whitesville, which now consists of the western portion of Lapeer. A tamarack swamp once separated these two settlements.

Other distinguished natives include John T. Rich, former governor of the state; L. S. Cramton, known as the Father of the National Park System; Charles Potter, whose son became a U.S. Senator; William Reed, Big Ten Football Commissioner and Marguerite deAngeli, internationally known writer of children's books.

Top

 

Courthouse History

At one time, there were two courthouses. The White family erected one at the present site of the Old Lapeer High School at Main and Genesee Streets, while the Hart family erected one at Nepessing and Court Streets. The Board of Supervisors purchased the Hart courthouse for $3,000, which is now the oldest continuously running courthouse in the state of Michigan and one of the oldest 10 courthouses in the United States. White's courthouse later became the first school in Lapeer called Lapeer Academy.

Over time, it became evident that the business district would be near the Courthouse, so our founders moved the Opera House piece-by-piece to its present location at the southeast corner of Court and Nepessing Streets in 1879. The building is now known as the White Block.  (For more information click here.)

Top

 

Churches

Lapeer’s first church was the Congregational Church; organized in 1833, the same year Lapeer was platted. The Methodist Episcopal Church opened its doors a year later, followed by the Baptist Church in 1858, the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in 1866, the Universalist Church in 1873, the Methodist Protestant Church in 1877 and the Grace Episcopal Church in 1882.

Top

 

Industry

Lumbering was the sole industry in the early days of Lapeer. The flourishing lumber business attracted the New York Central Railroad and Grand Trunk Railroad. Lapeer later became the intersection to two state trunk lines: M-21 and M-24. Adequate supplies of water, fuel and electricity, and many various forms of recreational facilities, provided the foundation for our growing community. Our industries today supply our state’s high-tech automotive industry with gray iron casting, molded plastics, plastic fabrics, electrical harnesses and stamping.

Top

 

Lapeer Today

Within an easy commute to metropolitan Genesee and Oakland Counties, Lapeer has become a commuter’s paradise.

Our commercial center along Nepessing Street endures as our Central Business District, which is adorned with brick flowerbeds featuring cupolas from the early 20th century. The cupolas once graced the Oakdale Center for Developmental Disabilities, the institution that was the area’s largest employer from 1895 to 1992. These charming architectural accents reflect our proud heritage. We are sure you will enjoy walking among them and the new street posts lighting our downtown district.

Adjacent to downtown are neighborhoods of early homes, churches and community buildings dubbed Piety Hill. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Piety Hill is a favorite driving and walking tour for residents and visitors alike.

You will also enjoy our park system featuring plenty of picnic areas, tennis courts, playgrounds and ball diamonds. And when ready for a good book or to research our community’s history, our robust district library, Lapeer District Library, serves residents throughout our county.

For a brief stay or for settling down for family generations, we invite you to our community for shopping, small town living and a balanced blend of cultural, historical and recreational attributes.

 
 
   
  © All Rights Reserved, City of Lapeer     Accessibility | Link Policy  |  Privacy
  For questions regarding this web site, please contact: webmaster@ci.lapeer.mi.us
  
  Online since 1999. This page was last updated:
  Web site best viewed with Internet Explorer 6.0 or Netscape 6.02 or newer.