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Constantine Historic Commercial District, Constantine, Saint Joseph County
register business
Image by MI SHPO
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 17, 1985, the Constantine Historic Commercial District comprises five acres in the original, two-block core of the Village of Constantine's historic and contemporary central business district. The district contains thirty-four commercial and residential structures, the majority of which represent nicely preserved examples of mid-nineteenth to early twentieth century Greek Revival and Italianate styles. The commercial buildings are between one and three stories in height. The Greek revival structures are covered in asphalt shingle, aluminum siding, and painted clapboard with rectangular facade openings, gable ends with returns, and simple classical lines. The dominant Italianate brick blocks display elaborate bracketed cornices, round or segmental-arched windows with hoodmolds or other decorative accents, central roofline pediments, pilastered entry bays, transoms or fanlights, and large display windows.

The Constantine Historic Commercial District derives its significance from both historic and architectural features. Founded in 1828, the Village of Constantine soon became a major regional port for shipping agricultural products east and receiving return shipments for local merchants. Among the important persons associated with Constantine's economic development was former Michigan governor and state senator John S. Barry (1842-1846, 1850-1851), whose river trade and mercantile interests centered in the village. Several Greek Revival structures remain from the period, among them Barry's original warehouse. The prosperity established during Constantine's river trade era carried over into the 1870s when local residents financed a number of handsomely detailed Italianate commercial blocks. Despite alterations to street level facades, Constantine's commercial center remains remarkable for the elegance and historic character of its nineteenth and early twentieth century downtown structures.

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