Small-town Life at its Best

The friendly small-town life today's families are looking for, when combined with the amenities typically found in larger cities, makes this quaint southwestern Michigan community a haven for young professionals, growing families and retirees.  From custom housing to quality health care, superb schools and a state-of-the-art community college, Dowagiac has it all. 

Life in our community takes a quiet turn at the end of the day, as people return to the comfort of their homes.  A century of varied architectural styles are found among the boulevards of blossoming trees.  Whether you choose in-town living, a serene country setting or a beautiful lakefront home at Sister Lakes, quality housing is affordable for the new homebuyer or growing family.

Located within the city limits off Riverside Drive, Rudolphi Woods Subdivision offers low-cost, quality homesites in an elegant setting.   For those who prefer maintenance-free living, Villamere Condominiums, located on Dowagiac's east side, offer detached single-family villas that adjoin picturesuqe Mill Pond. 

 A Community Rich in History

Reminders of our heritage are found throughout our community, where day-visitors can view stone mansions, reminiscent of the Victorian era, and potbellied Round Oak Stoves that once warmed our homes.  Members of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Indians, one of the earliest settlers to this area, continue to call Dowagiac home, as do such longstanding businesses as Judd Lumber Co., the oldest lumber company in Michigan and Mennel Milling Company, which is the oldest mill in the state that is still in operation on its original site.

 Influence of the Indians

The name Dowagiac came from the Potawatomi Indian word, Ndowagayuk, which means forging ground, reflective of this area's abundant supply of wild game, fruit, vegetables, grain and medicinial herbs.  In 1821 through the Treaty of Chicago, the Potawatomi, Chippewa and Ottawa ceded to the United States land today known as Cass County.  When the first permanent white settlers arrived in 1824, the Potawtomi Indians were dominate in the area.

Early Development

The Dowagiac Creek gave the city its start when William Renesten established his carding mill in 1831.  Two years later, he dammed the creek to create Mill Pond and built his grist mill.  Like Renesten, settlers wishing to live close to the mills began to settle the area. 

Waterpower suplied by Dowagiac Creek was important to early manufacturers.  The creek furnished power for saw mills, a plug tobacco manufacturer, foundry, chair company, feed mill and a cider and vinegar producer. 

A stagecoach route, following the Grand River Indian Trail, linking Kalamazoo to the Carey Mission in Niles, brought land seekers to the area by 1836.  When Michigan Central railroad came through in 1848, the area soon became a wheat shipping station.  On wheat day, farmers waited in line for blocks to unload their grain.  They also made use of the rail for shipping stock. While town planners intended Main Street to be the principal street, merchants wanting to be near the railroad, built their businesses along South Front Street.

Round Oak Synonymous with Dowagiac

Historians credit Philo D. Beckwith, who came to our community in 1854, as the person most responsible for changing the business complextion of early Dowagiac.  The name Round Oak soon become a household word as people across the country purchased his potbellied stoves, furnaces and kitchen ranges, made between the 1860s and 1940s.

The remaining complex of Round Oak buildings on Spaulding Street now houses Ameriwood Furniture.  Today, a small collection of stoves are displayed at our office, located within the historic train depot.  To learn more about this community's history, tour the Dowagiac Area History Museum at Division and West Railroad streets, or visit www.DowagiacMuseum.info

 

.    

Latest News from your Chamber

  • April 1st, 2022

    Chamber hires new staff member

    The Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce announces the hiring of Matt Money as Chamber Marketing and Event Coordinator. 

    Money brings management, operational and event planning experience gleaned from over twelve years of employment at the University of Notre Dame to this Chamber of Commerce role.   Also, as a founding member of the Young Professionals Against Poverty in South Bend, Indiana, Money helped create, and then served as event director, for that community’s On the River Festival for eight years.  The event raised over $900,000 for South Bend’s Center for the Homeless.

    Read more ...  
  • February 27th, 2022

    Working Capital Loans Available in Cass County for Ag Businesses

    As a result of the frost and freeze that occurred last spring, Economic Injury Disaster Loans are now available to businesses, agricultural cooperatives, businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations.

    The announcement was made by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The declaration includes Cass County.
    Read more ...  
  • February 27th, 2022

    Facade Incentive Has Been Doubled

    Downtown property owners, who are contemplating renovation of the front facade of their buildings, will receive an added boost this construction season from the Downtown Development Authority.

    “With the cost of materials increasing, the DDA and City felt it was only appropriate to also increase the amount of our incentive,” said Vickie Phillipson, DDA program director.

    Read more ...  
  • February 27th, 2022

    New Grant Opportunity for Small Businesses

    Michigan’s small businesses are innovative and resilient, but they need added support. To answer this call, the State of Michigan is offering an exciting new grant program to provide businesses with additional financial support to help retain or create jobs and boost Michigan's economy. Grant applications go live on March 1, 2022, and totals $409- million.
     
    Under this program, eligible businesses in operation before October 1, 2019, may receive a percentage of their loss in total state sales through a grant, up to $5-million.
    Read more ...