Brighton Life: A Look into the Past
Early Brighton started as wilderness, the transition into a village was a slow and steady change characterized by transportation innovation and agricultural success. As the woods began to be cleared by incoming settlers, the rural layout of Brighton township began to take place. Fertile soils and an abundance of space appealed to settlers who wished to gain agricultural success (McMacken, p. 17). The even increasing visits from stage coaches and trains brought new citizens and commerce to the city. As the wood plank road transitioned into the Grand River Trail and the stagecoaches turned into trains, the towns businesses started to become centralized. Dry grocery stores and hotels were the mainstay of early downtown Brighton (McMacken, p. 163).
The most notable downtown hotel to locals today is the Brighton Hotel, which has now became a historical building on Main Street. On March 25th of 1867, the Brighton Hotel (now know
by locals as the historic pink hotel) was the site of the election that declared Brighton an incorporated village of Michigan. The “Pink Hotel” still stands in downtown Brighton but has recently been turned into a microbrewery called Becker Brewery, with which the locals are equally proud and annoyed at the same time. Another historic building downtown is the popular establishment also known as the Yum Yum Tree. The building has changed purposes half a dozen times since its establishment as a bank, but has stayed an ice cream parlor for over 30 years!
Brighton currently has a rather interested community in preserving its history. The Brighton Area Historical Society (BAHS) is quite active in posting new articles on information relevant to the founding of the town. There is even a museum of sorts in a historical building on Main Street near the Millpond. The Brighton District Library also has an extensive genealogy section in which citizens study the origins of the first settlers of the town. Most of the genealogy leads right back to the New York area or New England in general (BAHS, City of Brighton History). It seems that a majority of these early settlers came for the ample and able land for farming, as the BAHS has quite a bit of research on notable farms in the early 1900’s.