A Brief History of Downtown Howell

Howell is the largest city in Livingston County covering just under 25 square miles. It’s pretty much surrounded by Howell Township but they are administered separately. The population teeters around 10,000 with a median household income around $49,000.


There are many festivals celebrated in Howell throughout the year. In late June, Howell celebrates the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest. This is one of the most notable festivals each and every year. This event includes a mini carnival, crafts for the kids, a fireworks display and of course balloon launches.


Another notable event that takes place each year in Howell to celebrate Halloween is the “Legend of Sleepy Howell”. This is the towns cute spin on “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, the gothic story written by Washington Irvin. This is followed by the “Fantasy of Lights” parade that takes place in late November.


The Howell Melon Festival is another event that draws approximately 50,000 visitors each year. This annual three-day festival was created to celebrate the Howell melon, a super juicy hybrid cantaloupe grown locally. If you are a fan of the melon or cantaloupe you don’t want to miss this late summer festival taking place in mid-August.


Howell’s newest tradition, the Pink Party, is a day to raise money for breast cancer awareness and recognize breast cancer survivors. The yearly festivals and press recognition allowed Howell’s downtown area to be nominated in USA Today’s 10 Best contest for “Best Main Street “of which Howell placed second overall.


Howell was not the original name chosen for the city when it was first settled in 1835. When John D. Pinkney built his log home the settlement became know as Livingston Centre. As more settlers migrated to the area the population began to grow.


Moses Thompson moved his family from New York and settled in Livingston Centre. Thompson built the saw mill in 1836 which was powered by the stream that forms the outlet for Thompson Lake. The saw mill would become the pioneer manufacturing enterprise of Howell.


The first actual building was erected on the southeast corner of Grand River and Walnut St. It was a two story frame house built by Flavious J. B. Crane and Edward Brooks known as the Eagle Tavern. It was built for Mr. Amos who happened to be the first settler in the village. A tavern was similar to a hotel also known as a public house.


The post office was also established in 1836 by Flavious J. B. Crane. Crane was postmaster and the post office was actually located in the Eagle Tavern. Soon thereafter, mail routes were established and over the next 12 years county buildings would be erected and Howell would eventually earn a County Seat as an established town.


The city of Howell was named in honor of Thomas Howell by Flavius J. B. Crane, one of the men that laid out the village. Howell was established as a village on March 14th of 1863. The name Howell did not come into use right away as the village was often referred to as Livingston Centre as mentioned earlier.


Howell is home to 6 public elementary schools, 2 middle schools, 2 high schools and two higher education institutions. The elementary schools are as follows; Three Fires Elementary School whose mascot is the Timberwolves, Northwest Elementary School whose mascot is the Eagles, Southwest Elementary School representing as the Coyotes, Challenger Elementary School known as the Champions, Voyager Elementary School showing up as the Vikings, and Hutchings Elementary School whose mascot is the huskies.


The middle schools are Parker Middle School and Highlander Way Middle School. Parker Middle School has a team and school mascot is the Patriots. Highlander Way Middle School’s mascot is the hawks.


If we start at Arcadia Insurance Group located at 10087 Bergin Rd, Howell, MI 48843 and head west on Bergin Rd to make a right on N Hacker Rd you will find St. John the Baptist Catholic Church located at 2099 N Hacker Rd, Howell, MI 48855 on the left side of the road.



When we leave St. John the Baptist Catholic Church heading south on N Hacker Rd, if we take right on M-59 and head west for about 4 miles you will turn right on to Latson Rd and then take a quick left on Bigelow Rd heading west where you will pass Hutchings Elementary School located at 3503 Bigelow Rd, Howell, MI 48855.




Leaving Hutchings Elementary School, if you make a right on Bigelow and follow that until you make a right on golf club rd. Take Golf Club Rd for a short time and turn right on East Grand River and we will see the Howell Michigan City Hall located at 611 E Grand River Rd, Howell, MI 48843.



If you take a left on Grand River Ave and head west you will make a right onto N Michigan Ave heading north for about 2 miles until you get to W Highland Rd. Make left on West Highland Rd and the Town Commons Apartments located at 1600 Town Commons Dr #101, Howell, MI 48855 will be on your right.



If you need to go shopping you can head further west on M-59 for just under 4 miles and turn right on to N Burkhart Rd for a short period until you can turn left on Lambert drive where you will find the Tanger Outlets Howell located at 1475 N Burkhart Rd, Howell, MI 48855.



Heading back the way we came we will turn right on N Burkhart Rd and veer onto I-96 Business Lane heading East until we merge on to Grand River Ave heading back to down town Howell. Heading east for just about 4 miles we will come to Cobb-Hall Insurance on the left located at 223 W Grand River Rd # 1, Howell, MI 48843.



Cobb-Hall Insurance was built in 1928 but if you want to see some real Howell history you’ll want to continue South East on West Grand River Rd to the Howell Depot Museum built in 1886.



If you continue heading South West on Grand River and make your first right on S Michigan Ave and then taking your first left on E Sibley St you’ll come up into the parking area for Cleary’s Pub located at 117 E Grand River Rd, Howell, MI 48843. The pub was actually built in 1875.



Leaving Cleary’s Pub the way we came in, you can make a right on E Sibley St and make the second right on S Walnut St where you will find All Saints Wedding Chapel located at 114 S Walnut St, Howell, MI 48843. The Wedding Chapel was built in 1880.




The Livingston County Courthouse is another old building built in the late 1800’s. If you head North East on S Walnut St and make a right on E Grand River you’ll take the second left on to N State St where you will find the Livingston County Courthouse located at 101-199 N State St, Howell, MI 48843.



If we leave the Courthouse and take N State St back to Grand River heading South East for one block we will pass the First National Bank on the left. The bank was built in 1875 and is located at 101 E Grand River Rd, Howell, MI 48843.



The Howell downtown area is full of historic buildings and unique history. There is a lot to see with in walking distance of downtown which is located at the intersection of Grand River Ave and Michigan Ave.




You might also be interested in the Historic Howell Theater


If you happen to find yourself visiting Howell you’ll be pleased if you visit the point of interests listed above. If you happen need a good insurance agent or a cheap insurance quote make sure to visit our Home Page.