Fenton, Michigan

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Fenton is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan that lies mostly in Genesee County, but with small portions in Livingston County and Oakland County.[3] As of the 2000 census, the city population was 10,582. The city was incorporated from Fenton Township in Genesee County, but the city and township are administratively autonomous. In 2004, the city annexed a small portion of Holly Township in Oakland County.

Contents

History

Fenton was first named Dibbleville after the first settler in the area, Clark Dibble, who moved there from New York in 1834. According to local legend, it was renamed Fenton as a result of an 1837 card game involving two men, William M. Fenton and Robert LeRoy. LeRoy Street, the city's main street, was named for the loser. The city's original name survives as the name of one of Fenton's neighborhoods.

Fenton was incorporated as a village in 1863 and as a city in 1964. It was during the end of the 60's decade, that Mayor Paul Bottecelli, owner and pharmacist of Fenton Drug, and the City Council decided to use Federal Urban Renewal funds to tear down three of the four original downtown business blocks. Urban Renewal, after many heated debates, came to a vote of the citizens of Fenton. Urban Renewal passed by a narrow margin. Three of the four original downtown blocks of businesses were leveled, effectively destroying the historic downtown district of the city. After Urban Renewal, the number and variety of businesses decreased in the downtown section. Many businesses closed and a few moved out of the downtown area to other areas of town. To this day, many businesses have struggled to maintain a foothold within the downtown area. Since the time of Urban Renewal, the importance of a downtown as a central core, has resurrected. There are events throughout the year in the downtown. In the summer, there is a Fourth of July Festival, a weekly Farmer's Market, Taste of Fenton, and Art in the Park. During the December holiday season, the festivities include Jingle Fest and a New Year's Eve celebration.

On the south side of Fenton lies the old Fenton Seminary. The wife of famed pragmatist John Dewey had attended the seminary. Having not been properly maintained for several years, the property is slated for demolition.

Tornado

On August 24, 2007, an F2 tornado hit downtown Fenton. It left miles of debris, destroyed several homes and almost completely destroyed the newly opened Tractor Supply Company and nearby train depot. This caused many people to go without power, leaving the city in a state of emergency. Fortunately, there were no fatalities or serious injuries.[4]

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