Stevens Thomson Mason
(October 27, 1811 – January 4, 1843) -- also known as The Boy Governor, and lesser known nicknames Young Hotspur and The Stripling -- was territorial governor of the Michigan Territory, and the first Governor of the state of Michigan.
History of Capitol Park
Capitol Park itself is a triangular plot of land (now a public park) bounded by Shelby Street, Griswold Street, and State Street. The plot is an artifact of Augustus Woodward's 1805 plan for the city of Detroit. The Historic District includes the park and seventeen surrounding buildings for a block in each direction. Some buildings within the district include the Farwell Building, the Griswold Building, the David Stott Building, and the Industrial-Stevens Apartments.
In 1823, the population of Detroit had increased to the point that the US Congress transferred governance of what was then the Territory of Michigan to the governor and legislative council. To house the new government, a courthouse was built in Capitol Park in 1823-28. When Michigan became a state in 1837, the building became the state capitol, and functioned so until 1847 when the governmental seat was moved to Lansing. The building was then used as a public high school until 1893, when it was destroyed by fire. The land was then converted to a park, and it has remained a public space up to the present. In 1955, Capitol Park was redesigned for use as a public transport center, with a comfort station and four bus loading shelters.
The buildings within the Historic District surrounding the park were built primarily during the first three decades of the twentieth century for commercial and business purposes. Several famous architects, including Albert Kahn and Gordon Lloyd, contributed buildings in a range of styles, from Victorian to Beaux-Arts to Art Deco. The buildings demonstrate the transformation of Detroit from a prospering nineteenth century commercial center to a modern city.
In addition to the present buildings, Capitol Park has a historic connection to the Underground Railroad. In 1850, Seymour Finney purchased a plot of land near the park and erected a tavern with a large barn. Finney was strongly sympathetic to the abolitionist cause, and used his barn to hide escaping slaves before their final trek across the river into Canada. A State of Michigan historical marker has been erected in the park to commemorate Finney's Barn.
The opening of the Rosa Parks Transit Center in downtown Detroit in July 2009 marked the end of Capitol Park's use as a transportation center. A $1.1 million renovation project started in September 2009 by the city's Downtown Development Authority will redevelop the public space in an effort to draw new businesses to the area.