Tucked away in a back corner of the Bellevue Township Library is a room filled with historical documents, clothing, knickknacks, furniture, and more. This room is home to the Bellevue Historical Society.
This group of Bellevue locals, many who spent their whole lives in Bellevue, look over the room and its contents as well as the legacy of their beloved village. Like many others, these folks have watched the change in Bellevue, often with disappointment.
In the July 1 edition of the paper, the County Journal ran an article about the Bellevue Township building, which is to be torn down to accommodate a drive through for the Fruin Pharmacy. Although nothing at this point can be done to change the coming adjustment to the face of Bellevue’s downtown, representatives from the Bellevue Historical Society still want readers to understand how such changes affect the character of the village.
Bellevue was the first of many things in Eaton County, according to Joyce Miller, and had several defining characteristics. One of the defining characteristics was the Burt Portland Cement Plant in Bellevue, which provided the cement for the bank building that was erected in the 1920s. While the Bellevue Township building (formerly the bank) isn’t nice marble, its material is still representative of the legacy and character of Bellevue.
Miller believes that the building, for having a historic designation, wasn’t maintained properly. She believes there would be no need for the township to find a different space to work from if it had been maintained the way it was supposed to be.
President of the Bellevue Historical Society, John Dexter, sees the loss of the township building as part of a growing trend. As larger corporations and companies settle in new areas small towns are often faced with the choice to preserve historic focal points, or allow stable businesses to expand.
“Almost every small town is losing businesses in some way or another,” said John.
It’s unfortunate to John, but ultimately he acknowledged the predicament Bellevue is faced with. But as historians of the oldest Eaton County Village, John and Joyce know the hard truth that once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
Like many other residents, John and Joyce are at a loss of ideas for what to do to preserve Bellevue’s historic downtown while also keeping visitors interested and coming back. They hope the trend stops with the township building, and they hope even more that other citizens will take on the concern and interest for local history.