People who visit Tecumseh for the first time usually come for one of three reasons: antiques, destination dining, or as just a stop on Route 50 on the way to the Irish Hills area or a Michigan International Speedway event.
Corey and Victoria Lord think the people from out of town are missing a lot.
“They think leisurely stroll, Sunday drives, and antiques which you can do and it’s lovely,” Victoria said, adding, “But if you’re an active person, there is biking, kayaking, hiking, and the shopping. There’s a lot more to it than just antiques.”
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Tecumseh Paddling Company
Kayaking has become very popular since Tecumseh Paddling Company opened seven years ago. Paddlers can spend time on Globe Mill and Standish Ponds which are connected by a canal that diverts water from the River Raisin. A short walk leads you to Indian Trails which meanders through the forested area next to the river.
The city boasts an arts center, a large recreation center, and an extensive park system.
The Market on Evans
The Lords showed us one of Tecumseh’s latest additions, The Market on Evans where the farmers market is held. Previously, farmers set up shop in downtown, scattered up and down the main street, Chicago Boulevard. The new permanent home for the farmers market now draws sizeable crowds.
From there the Lords took us on a walk a block and a half to downtown, talking about how happy they’ve been with their move to Tecumseh ten years ago.
Corey is a CPA who primarily works with restaurant, brewery, and entertainment venues. Victoria owns a body products company called Paper Street. She makes custom soap products for some of the merchants in Tecumseh. For example, she uses beer from the local brewery or tea or coffee to make hand soaps for the businesses.
Corey thinks Tecumseh is kind of like a small town Ann Arbor.
“It’s a little more trendy than some of the other small towns in the area. But, at the same time, you still have that quietness of a small town,” he said.
“We’re super rural and people tend to forget that,” Victoria said. “We’re working just as hard as anybody else to bring in resources for our people and being rural means there are a ton of challenges in getting people out here,” she explained.
Being "super rural" also means it's common to see deer, cranes, blue herons, and other wildlife near the creeks and forested areas in the city that break up the small neighborhoods.
They both agreed that it’s nice that they don’t have to worry about their 14-year-old daughter, Evelyn, stopping by Musgrove & Company coffee after school and, “chugging down a matcha green tea lavender honey drink,” as she walks the rest of the way home.
"It’s pretty phenomenal to be able to let your kid just kind of go like that and know that you have a community that’s watching out for her and being a good influence on her in general,” Victoria said.
In the summer, there are free Movies in the Park. In the fall there is the big Appleumkin Festival. Throughout the year there are arts performances and charity events enough to fill just about anybody's social calendar.
Unlike other cities where local merchants have suffered because of big box stores and online shopping, Tecumseh still has a shoe store, a camera store, apparel stores, a toy and hobby shop, a locally owned pharmacy, a jeweler, a hardware store, furniture store, a lumberyard, and a local grocery store staffed with real butchers.
As they walked along the storefronts in downtown, the Lords talked a lot about food, mentioning Tecumseh Bread & Pastry, which is an artisanal bread shop. They talked about Sweet Leilani's Desserts in the old train depot, Boulevard Market which offers artisanal cheese, wines, and specialty foods. They talked about Lev’s Bakery, 3 Dudes and Dinner Catering, and then they got really enthusiastic when they start talking about the local brew pub and the top restaurant in the region.
Tecumseh Brewing Company
While Tecumseh has some long-loved traditional watering holes such as Muk’s and Embers, there’s been more than a little excitement about the town’s first brewery.
Corey thinks Tecumseh Brewing Company really made a difference in the community of 8,400. These days in Michigan, if you don’t have a local brewery, your town seems to be lacking. He adds that he thinks this brew pub is under-exposed.
“Tecumseh Brewing Company has the best IPA in the state. There is no doubt about that. I’ve tried a lot. I’m not biased in any way to my hometown brewery,” he said, adding a comment about a favorite called the Rocket IPA.
A second brewery could soon be coming to the Hayden-Ford Mill on the Globe Mill pond.
“There’s been a lot of studies showing that breweries are very vibrant, especially to small towns,” Corey said. He thinks two local breweries will be a big draw for visitors.
The Tecumseh fine dining restaurant the Lords love is Evans Street Station. It’s a destination restaurant with a lot of the customers driving in from Ann Arbor and Toledo. The locals note you don’t often find a restaurant of that quality in a town the size of Tecumseh. They’re lucky to have it and they know it.
“They have the best happy hour,” Victoria said, adding excitedly, “If you want some great dollar oysters and some poutine with the fried egg on it, I mean, it’s worth the drive. It’s delightful.” Corey interjected with, “Excellent cocktails.” Evans Street Station's patio is a favorite gathering place during the summer.
The average income level in Tecumseh is a little higher than some of the other cities in the area. That helps make those boutique and specialty shops possible. Many of the residents drive to Jackson, Ann Arbor, Toledo, and Detroit for work.
While Tecumseh lost its largest employer, Tecumseh Products, decades ago, the city recently learned part of that abandoned plant might soon be occupied by a light manufacturer and the Business and Technology campus — which has been waiting for tenants for many years — could soon be home to another light manufacturer.
The city is not without its challenges. The saga of the Tecumseh School board going through five superintendents in one year has been the subject of front page coverage in the Tecumseh Herald for months on end. The issue is still not resolved.
Overall, though, Corey and Victoria Lord think Tecumseh has been a very good home for them and their daughter.
“I mean, growing up in a different small town, if you wanted anything to do, you had to drive half and hour to an hour to find it. But, there’s always something to do here, especially during the summer,” Victoria said, adding, “This town is full of surprises.”