Silhouette of Fenton’s namesake getting a public perch

Dominic Adams
Flint Journal

Fenton — For years, a silhouette of William Fenton sat in a storage closet inside the former headquarters of Citizens Bank in downtown Flint.

Now the piece of artwork that was created more than a century ago will hang in a historic building in the city that bears his name.

The artwork was donated to the Fenton Historical Society and will be on display inside Red Fox Outfitters downtown.

In 1871, William Fenton became the first president of Citizens National Bank, which was the predecessor of Citizens Bank in Flint.

The piece is over 100 years old and was created by one of William Fenton’s sons.

“William Fenton obviously was an important part of this community dating back to its origin,” said David Lochner, president of FirstMerit Michigan, during the unveiling Feb. 22. “We’ve got our own special tie back to William Fenton. There’s just a lot of history that brings us to this location and this special part of town.”

FirstMerit bought Citizens Bank in 2013.

Huntington Bancshares Inc. announced last month that it bought FirstMerit Corp. in a stock-and-cash transaction valued at about $3.4 billion that is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2016.

William Fenton won the rights to name the city following a poker game with his business partner Robert LeRoy, according to local legend.

Fenton won the first hand and got to name the town, while LeRoy won the second hand and named the city’s main street after himself.

The card game kept on until all the city’s streets and parks were names.

Red Fox Outfitters is inside the former Fenton Bean Co. that was built in 1856.

The building is owned by Phil and Jocelyn Hagerman and was renovated through their SkyPoint Ventures company.

“This is an iconic part of Fenton and it pained us for years to see it in the condition it was in — it was such an important part of this city,” said Phil Hagerman, who also is the president and CEO of Diplomat Pharmacy. “We’re so grateful to the historical society to be able to display an important piece of Fenton’s history.”