In the cozy river town of Bay City, Michigan, sits an 1883 Victorian home that pulses with modern technology. The Ohno Design Studio is on the first floor of this building, which is intimately connected with the people who shaped Bay City.
The three-story house at the corner of Fifth and Farragut was built by Charles A. Eddy in 1883. The Eddy family was known throughout the Saginaw Valley for their prominent role in manufacturing, mercantile and banking industries in the area. Later, it was home to Anne Hatchel, the first woman mayor of Bay City. Anne and her husband, Bob, ran a real estate business here and hosted dignitaries from around the world.
There’s not a whole lot of foreign dignitaries visiting 823 N. Farragut these days, but we do have a velvet portrait of Elvis hanging on the wall. We also have Lucy, our fingerless mannequin standing in a corner keeping an eye on everything.
Walk up the steps and across the wrap-around front porch, past the bronze sign reading “The Farragut,” and sit for a moment in the wicker furniture. Step inside and you’ll likely be enthusiastically greeted by Lego, the resident dog and our Chief of Security. Look up and you’ll see Christmas lights twinkling from the ceiling year-round. You’ll hear the music of David Bowie, Pearl Jam and The White Stripes. Come on the right day and you may smell brownies baking in one of the home’s five kitchens. (On those days, we always hope the brownie fragrance is coming from the Ohno kitchen and not one of the apartments.)
This home has a storied past, which seems appropriate since we want to tell your business’s story. Back to the story of 823 N. Farragut.
In 1882, when Mr. Eddy bought this land to build a home for his family, Bay City had a disreputable side. Bars and brothels lined the Saginaw River, enticing shanty boys (and their hard-earned money) out of the Northern Michigan woods every spring. Alcohol, gambling, fights, robberies and murders earned the district the notorious nickname “Hell’s Half Mile.”
In the nearby Eddy neighborhood, life was much different. Immense mansions boasted stained glass windows and elaborate front porches. The Eddy Brothers were key in establishing financial, mercantile and lumbering enterprises in the Saginaw Valley.
At Ohno Design, we think it’s fitting that the Eddy family home continues as a part of the Great Lakes Bay Region’s business culture. We also appreciate the other side of local history, indulging in the occasional drink in a bar near the river on a sunny day. We’ll skip the robberies, fights and murders, though.
Today, The Farragut is home to two apartments, one private residence and Ohno Design. The first floor is where the Ohno Design staff gathers to do what it takes to get out the message of our clients. (We also make time to play with Lego and look up cool YouTube videos of people blowing up things.)
We meet in what we affectionately call “the war room,” sitting around at an antique drafting table that once graced the halls of a former ship-building factory. Our conference room table once resided in the office of a Michigan newspaper. When the weather cooperates, we meet in the backyard or work from laptops on the covered front porch. On occasion, we work from our individual homes, letting us tend to pets and keep track of baseball games.
We brainstorm. We create solutions. We sit surrounded by technology and local history and Bowie and brownies as we navigate our clients’ futures. “Reputation managers,” we’ve been called. Image makers. Risk takers. All right here, from a studio built over a century ago when Bay City was brand new.