Portage Printing Photo leads to “Zeppelin” and a very great story


A wonderful photograph of Kalamazoo’s past will bring back memories for many of a certain age, but the associated Facebook post can make you laugh, with a wonderful story.

Like more than 30,000 members of the Kalamazoo’s missing page on Facebook, the site is like a treasure chest filled with memories. And member Craig Vestal and his Portage Print is another provider of these keepsakes with an annual calendar that focuses on 12 keepsakes per year.

So many memories

Vestal posted the cover of the upcoming 2022 calendar, a colorized 1935 photograph of Michigan Avenue from Rose Street, looking east toward Burdick, and with the post, plenty of comments on the memories she brings back came.

The first thing that jumps out at you is the two-way traffic on Michigan and also on Burdick Street (which is now the Kalamazoo Mall). You can see a city bus on both streets at the intersection. Above Burdick Street is the top of the Gilmore Brothers department store. (the building suffered enormous damage in the 1980 tornado.)

Some of the buildings from 1935 are still standing, although most of them have all been refitted. Along the left side of Michigan Avenue is the Burdick Hotel (destroyed for nearly 50 years) and street-level retail stores, including a cafe and furrier – yes, times have changed. Across from the hotel were several clothing stores and a cigar store. It is now the brand new Exchange building. Across Burdick Street is a building now known as the Peregrine Building. (This corner housed variations of banks and other businesses. After that, in the old photo you can see the Michigan Theater.

From the Depression to the early 1970s, there were many theaters downtown. The State Theater is the “last man standing”, but there was also the Capitol, the Fuller and the Uptown Theater, and more recently the Alamo / AMC.

And a great story

But if you click on the image of the Portage Printing calendar cover, this is where the story gets fun. Vestal comments Portage Printing’s airship was a beloved area attraction for many years until 1969 when it was destroyed in a tragic fire during a photoshoot for Jimmy Page’s new combo. “

Playing the game, another commentator adds I remember that tragic day shortly before I moved to the West Coast. “

Well, now I was curious. I recently found a Led Zeppelin Poster from that time, so when I contacted Vestal for permission to use the image on its cover, I asked about the airship. He said I should understand that Portage Printing has only been around for 35 years. He was himself in 10th grade in 1969.

But a warm pat on the back for fitting into the Led Zeppelin tradition, if only for a few fleeting seconds.

Irving Gilmore Mansion, Kalamazoo, 516 W. South Street,

This is the Irving Gilmore Mansion in downtown Kalamazoo, one block from the Art Institute, Bronson Park and the Civic Center.

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Photos of bars and nightclubs that no longer exist in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

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