Emeritus publishes architectural tours of central Kalamazoo

Contact: Jeanne Baron
Photo of professor emeritus of art Charles Stroh.


KALAMAZOO—A six-year labor of love for Charles Stroh, Western Michigan University professor emeritus of art, has culminated in the release of a CD containing six architectural tours of central Kalamazoo.

All of the tours are PDF files and compiled on a single CD titled "Kalamazoo Architectural Tours." The CD includes hundreds of photos Stroh took of significant buildings and building features found within a one-half mile radius of Bronson Park.

The Kalamazoo resident describes the various architectural styles and features in the photos, and often comments on the history behind individual buildings and the people who owned them. In addition, some tours also encompass sculptures installed in and around Bronson Park.

"The photographs from the tours show details you wouldn't be able to see except with a long telephoto lens and an advantageous perch," Stroh says. "Taken together, the tours are a wonderful introduction to Kalamazoo for visitors and newcomers. For those of us who have lived our entire lives here, they display places we've driven by many times but may have never really noticed or looked closely at before."

Tour areas and topics

  • Michigan Avenue west to east
  • North Rose Street to Lovell Street then east to John Street
  • Churches and the Ladies Library Association
  • Burdick Street and the Kalamazoo Mall from the Rickman House to Bronson Hospital
  • The South Street residential neighborhood
  • Government buildings
Photo of the Ladies' Library tower.

The tower at the Ladies Library, one of the stops in the architectural tour

Unique perspective

Stroh notes that over the years, numerous books have been published chronicling various historical, economic or social aspects of Kalamazoo's growth. Most do not emphasize photographs and when they do, they primarily incorporate black-and-white historical photos.

"My CD advances the story of Kalamazoo architecture to 2013, and all of the images are in full color except for drawn illustrations," Stroh says. "What's more, the CD emphasizes architecture and the 'built environment' rather than stories about people. And while it includes all of the important old buildings in central Kalamazoo, it also includes new buildings that have been erected or rehabilitated since the last publication of a Kalamazoo-related book in 2001."

If walking, each tour can be completed in 45 minutes to two hours, depending on how many stops are made along the way for shopping and refreshments. All of the tours are an easy trek—there is little change in elevation and no impediments to skirt.

CDs available for purchase

"Kalamazoo Architectural Tours can be an excellent classroom supplement as well as an indoor excursion, which with the appropriate equipment, you can view on your computer screen or home television," Stroh notes. "It contains hundreds of images, so you can also convert your favorites for viewing on your telephone or tablet."

The tours CD is available for purchase at several local shops or through Charles Stroh at charlesstroh@yahoo.com or (269) 349-2330. Depending on the quantity ordered, the cost ranges from $4 to $15, plus tax and shipping.