Pearls In Our Past - Hartford MI A Pictorial History of Hartford Michigan





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The Mann Metal Fire
(aka The Thomas Farm)

Hartford Michigan

Hartford's famous "mansion", a short distance to the east, was not damaged by the fire.

Smoke filled sky from I-94

Thomas Mansion is circled in yellow

 From I-94 bridge coming into Hartford

View from Maple Hill Cemetery

Fire may have started here


Photo contributed by Robert Hall, Jr.

January, 2006 - Demolition crew cleans up Mann Metal fire remains. 
The facility is expected to be rebuilt on the existing site.

SUNDAY, November 13, 2005

Fire destroy Mann Metal for the 2nd time since 5-8-2004 at the same location on 60th Avenue just north of I-94 Freeway.  The fire appeared to have started about 10:30 a.m. in the east side of the new section located on the west side of the buildings.   Strong winds carried the fire easterly across the older section, which destroyed the remainder of the Mann Metal buildings.  Through out the day, wind was a constant factor in keeping the fire under control.  Fire departments from Paw Paw, Lawrence, Watervliet, South Haven, Sister Lakes were called in to assist. Sirens sounded for much of the afternoon, as tankers made water runs to and from nearby Paw Paw River.  Origin of the fire is unknown as this time.

The wind seemed to shift the fire slightly north of the famous Thomas Mansion, which is located approximately 100 yards east of Mann Metal. The mansion was not damaged by the fire.  Firefighters fought grass fires caused by the blaze and it was feared that the treasured VanLierop Woods (home of the springtime daffodils) might be in danger.  Residents of the Woodside Senior Citizen Apartments, located northeast of the fire, were evacuated due to the high volume of smoke coming from the blaze.  The Hartford Medical Center, located immediately west of Mann Metal was not damaged by the fire. 

Click on this link to read about the fire in May, 2004, fire that destroyed the older section of Mann Metal, known as The Thomas Farm.  Shortly after that fire, the silos of the old building were replace with a new building, shown behind the semi truck in the photo.  A fire-scorched roof section remained as a reminder of the fire that destroyed a portion of the History of Hartford.  Lightening was determined to be the origin of the May 8, 2004 fire.  It appears that this is the same building location where today's fire may have started. 

Mann Metal Finishing, Inc. also maintains a building in the old Hartford Fruit Exchange, next to the railroad tracks, on Prospect Street. Mann Metal is one of the largest employers in Hartford.


Photos by Emma Thornburg Sefcik 11-13-2005

Information for this web site was gathered from personal interviews, newspaper articles, scrapbooks, personal photo albums, and other documented materials - many available to the public at the Hartford Public Library or Van Buren County Historical Museum.  Please report any typographical errors, updated information, or incorrectly stated information to the webmaster for correction.  Reprinting for personal and instructional purposes is permitted, however, unauthorized commercial reprinting of this information or unauthorized linking to photos-pictures on this site is strictly prohibited without written permission from the webmaster. 

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A Pictorial History of Hartford, Michigan
Emma Thornburg Sefcik,
Competent Secretarial Service
Copyright 2000 - All rights reserved.

Revised: March 20, 2014