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The Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) has saved a historic stone sign from a 1940s era building in Orion Township that is being demolished as part of the Baldwin Road widening project.
The sign was part of the original Gingell Brothers grocery store building in the unincorporated community of Gingellville. Gingellville was settled by the ancestors of current Oakland County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Gingell.
“Gingellville is an important part of both the history and future of Orion Township,” explained RCOC Chairman Eric Wilson. He noted that while the Baldwin Road widening project requires the removal of the Gingell building, it will allow for the development of a more pedestrian-friendly downtown area along with a much improved road that will help to reduce traffic congestion and improve motorist safety in the area.
The sign, which reads “Gingell Bros.,” is made of carved stone. The Gingell family, for several generations, ran a number of businesses in the community, including a hardware store and gas station as well as the grocery story. Wilson noted the sign will be preserved and included in the landscaping along the reconstructed Baldwin Road, potentially in the center of a roundabout.
Oakland County Board of Commissioners Chairman Michael Gingell was pleased that the sign was saved. “On behalf of my family, I would like to thank the Road Commission for preserving the Gingell Brothers sign,” Chairman Gingell said. “The monument sign is a reflection of the community that my great grandparents and their descendants built along with many others throughout Orion Township. Gingellville is about community, neighbors helping each other and supporting one another. Preserving these qualities is important.”
Orion Township Trustee Mike Flood was also concerned that the sign be preserved. “In 2011, I was first made aware of the Gingell Bros. building sign by former Baldwin Barber Shop barber and Gingellville resident Bud Stout,” Flood recalled.
“It was Bud's suggestion that started the whole process to retrieve and preserve this historic artifact before the buildings were removed for the Baldwin Road widening project. Many civic, appointed and elected officials have successfully come together to preserve this historic artifact to be viewed for future generations along the new Gingellville/Baldwin Road corridor. This was truly a collaborative effort,” Flood said.
The Baldwin Road project involves widening and reconstructing Baldwin Road between Gregory and Waldon roads. It will include widening part of the road to five lanes and part to a four-lane boulevard. It will also include the construction of five modern roundabouts.
“We want our roads to be as modern, safe and efficient as possible,” RCOC’s Wilson said. “But, we also want to recognize the history of the county and the communities that make up the county. Preserving this sign is one way of retaining a bit of that history and helping to remind people about the historic aspect of our communities.”
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Attached is a photo of RCOC Chairman Eric Wilson (left) and RCOC Central Operations Department Foreman Ed Foreman just before the sign was removed from the original building.