STRIKING IT RICH
Sometimes when you search far and wide, you end up finding your future right in the place where you began. Ontario born Bruce Wark (b.1874-1944) came to Detroit in 1894 and began selling typewriters. Without result, he chucked that career and spent the last two years of the nineteenth century as a prospector in the Klondike seeking a gold rush fortune. Pardon the pun, it didn’t pan out. When he returned to Detroit in 1900, he would find his fortune was waiting for him.
First, Wark successfully navigated a stock brokerage business, building a strong clientele which he sold in 1909. Next, he joined Monroe Steel Castings; a short lived manufacturing pursuit. By 1911, he was knee deep in a real estate partnership with the Robert Oakman Land Co. He would become involved in real estate development as well as the laying out of Oakman Boulevard. The friendship was strong. In 1917, Wark was involved in a hit and run automobile accident and jailed. Robert Oakman provided his bail.
He gave service to his new homeland. During World War I, he was a Captain and commanding officer of Company F, 553rd Infantry, Michigan State Troops. Additionally, he was chairman of the Draft Board No. 4 in Michigan.
Wark later established his own real estate firm, Wark-Gilbert Co. which was involved in the platting and opening of subdivisions such as Oakford, Gravner Park and Ecorse Manor in Southwest Detroit. Further, he was an affiliate of Detroit Homes, Inc. Wark was the Vice President of Detroit Real Estate Board in 1928 and the president of the Sourdough Club, an organization of Detroit gold rush pioneers that formed in 1930’s.
THE LITTLE PARK THE NEIGHBORHOOD FORGOT
Bruce Wark Sr. died in 1944. The land for the park named in his honor was donated by his heirs. Today the odd park is similar to a grassy alley sandwiched between the backyards of homes fronting Carlin and Decatur streets south of Plymouth Road. When I drove by the grass was long and it seemed forgotten. I only recognized it as a small park by the crooked, rusty flagpole and the wooden signage reading: No dumping.
Thanks for learning more about Detroit.
Copyright and all rights reserved, 2015, Andrea Gallucci.