fenton poker game sculptureMy first visit to Fenton was a spur of the moment trip because I had ordered a sandwich at a small coffee shop in Goodrich, Michigan. I was blown away by how delicious the bread was. I asked if they made their own and they said "No, they ordered bread from a baking company known as Crust, in Fenton, Michigan". Months later I was near Fenton, and had an hour to kill, so I decided to go visit this bakery. The only other clue I had was that I had heard that Fenton had a really cool map, with a Walking Tour laid out, for downtown. Right on the edge of the downtown district is the Chamber of Commerce office. They have lots of visitor information, and free copies of that great map. As I drove around downtown trying to locate Crust, I became aware that I had arrived in a pretty special town. I was seeing all kinds of sculpture and other art work scattered around. There was great architecture and really cool looking shopping districts. Once I had the map of the Walking Tour, I found Crust, and immediately, began making plans to return, park, and tour the whole downtown.

One of the attractions of downtown Fenton is the architecture, including the Community Center building, which was nominated as one of the most significant structures in Michigan. The design is the work of Eliel Saarinen. He was a Finnish architect, known for his art nouveau buildings, in the early years of the 20th century. The building was considered way ahead of its time and architectural students still journey to Fenton just to explore this building. The poker table sculpture in front of the Community Center tells the story of how Fenton got its name. The story goes that citizens couldn't agree on a name for the city so the possible honorees decided to settle the matter like gentlemen. They had a game of poker on August 24, 1837. The sculpture depicts three men, William M. Fenton, Robert LeRoy, and Benjamin Rockwell. Some people say Mr. Dibble was in the game. In any event, Mr. Fenton won and the community adopted his name. As a consolation prize, Robert LeRoy had his name given to LeRoy Street. Mr. LeRoy later built the Fenton Hotel, it is said to be haunted. There is an empty seat at the poker table just for photo ops.

This getaway is sponsored by the Fenton Chamber of Commerce.