Looking Back: Breaking Ground for the Southfield Civic Center
Published October 31, 2013
From Ken Siver, City Historian
Mary E. Thompson was born in Southfield in 1871 and lived on her farm on Evergreen Road, north of 10 Mile Road, for much of her life. Exceptional for the times, Thompson earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan Normal College (now Eastern Michigan University), a master’s from Columbia University and a doctorate from New York University. She taught at Beddows and McKinley schools in Southfield.
In the 1950s, developers were buying up the remaining farms in Southfield at a rapid pace. Thompson refused to sell and continued working her land and tending her flock of sheep until her death in 1967. In 1959, she agreed to sell part of her farm to the newly formed city of Southfield for a civic center. She sold 106 acres to the city for $4,500 an acre when the going rate was $10,000-plus an acre.
In the photo, Miss Thompson brought her own shovel to the May 1963 groundbreaking ceremony, marking the start of construction of the Southfield Civic Center. Pictured with her is Mayor James Clarkson, members of the City Council and (right center) City Clerk Patrick Flannery.
Do you own a piece of Southfield or Lathrup Village history? Send us your historically significant photos from around town, and we may be able to feature them in an upcoming edition of Looking Back. Email your photos and information to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (586) 279-1108.
- 30 DAYS
- When time is short, some tips to start your round off right - Metro Detroit
- Woman faces child abuse charges after infant found injured - Eastpointe
- Event will make splash in Lake St. Clair - Harrison Township
- ‘Mother of all buyouts’ comes to Farmington Public Schools - Farmington Hills
- The pieces come together for library mosaic mural - Sterling Heights
- Birmingham’s Rick Joseph is state’s top teacher - Bloomfield Hills
- ‘Get into the pit’ or enjoy some ‘pop’ - Chesterfield Township
- BHS recognized as one of the most challenging high schools in the state - Berkley
- Auto accident critically injures Stevenson student - Sterling Heights
- A mother’s dream come true - Macomb Township
- Stevenson student dies after M-53 accident - Sterling Heights
- Sheriff shares latest developments in fatal Stony Creek crash - Shelby Township
- East Detroit approves school uniform policy - Eastpointe
- Three 17-year-olds die in single-vehicle crash at park - Shelby Township