The 1880s were a time of rapid expansion and modernization in Grand Rapids. Electric lights were being installed, and they would eventually replace the gas and candle lit lampposts then in use. The Bridge Street, Fulton Street, and Fulton Street bridges were replaced with iron ones, and with them the city expanded farther west from downtown.
The building was erected sometime between 1883 and 1884, and its first resident is believed to by Sarah Webster (Munsell), the widow of George C. Webster. 175 Stocking is first mentioned in an 1884 Grand Rapids City Directory as a “fancy goods and notions” business with Sarah Webster (Munsell) as its proprietor. In 1886, it was the residence of Sarah Webster and Lucine (or Lucina) Munson, a carpet weaver who lived in various places on the Westside throughout the 1860s and 1870s.
From 1904 to 1914 Charles Shenor owned the building and lived there with his wife, Annie, and daughter, May. Their business was a clothing store. Mr. Shenor was born in Bohemia. Annie was born in Grand Rapids, and her parents were from Bohemia. They were married on on May 9, 1898 at ages 25 and 18, respectively, at St. Adalbert’s Church. We learned that sadly, their son, Edward, died in 1906 at only one year of age.
In 1912, when the area was subdivided by Silas Hall, a builder and contractor, the address was changed to 637 Stocking. It was vacant in 1920, and the tailors Theo Bialk and Frank Bart managed their business (Bart & Bialk Tailors) there from 1924 to 1929. This business became just Theo Bialk, Tailor in 1929. Bialk must have been financially savvy because he weathered the Depression and maintained ownership of the building for decades after that.
In 1959, the business listed was Fred Bialk, Tailor, and the building also housed Bender’s Barbershop. The Bialk family owned it until at least 1999. Most recently the building was a retail clothing store. We purchased it in 2017 with the intention of starting Corridor Coffee.