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:
an ordinance of the Congress
of the United States passed on
July 13, 1787, the area lying
northwest of the Ohio River,
occupied by the British, was
organized as the Northwest Territory.
County was once part of the
Northwest Territory. In January
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
with 520 persons voting in 1837.
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.
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.
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
was registered in Pontiac on
December 14, 1833, in the County
four years before Michigan became
a state and Lapeer became a county.
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
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.
one time, there were two courthouses.
The White family erected one
at the present site of the Old
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
$3,000, which is now the oldest
continuously running courthouse
in the state of Michigan and
one of the oldest 10 courthouses
the United States. White's courthouse
later became the first school
in Lapeer called Lapeer Academy.
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.)
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.
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.
an easy commute to metropolitan
Genesee and Oakland Counties,
Lapeer has become a commuter’s
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
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.
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
serves residents throughout our
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