From Crain's Chicago Business - Detroit 300 Short History article, July 2001
In commemoration of Detroit's 300th birthday, the Detroit 300 Commission began a recognition program honoring businesses still operating in and around the city that are over 100 yearsold. Many of those businesses have a DAC connection. This is the first in a series of stories profiling some of Detroit's historical businesses.
By Jeff Kaplan
Detroit was a small city surrounded by an expanse of wilderness in 1827 when Edwin Jerome arrived from New York. Jerome came with his father and three brothers, who intended to go into the lumber business. Edwin opened a school at the corner where Larned and Randolph now meet and taught during the winter. The city had a population of 2,000.
To keep busy during the summer Edwin, with a penchant for math, a compass and a 100-link chain, started surveying land for sale in and around the Detroit area.
Since then Detroit has grown to cover 135 square miles of land, expanded to a population of over a million and become a titan among the world's industrial cities. And the company Edwin Jerome founded has been a part of it all.
George G. Jerome Sr., and a DAC member since 1972, is the fifth generation Jerome to run the company.
Now known as George Jerome & Co., the firm boasts of having, "participated in almost every 'new' building that you can see on the Detroit skyline," including the City-County Building, Ford Auditorium, the Detroit Bank and Trust Building, the People Mover and the National Bank Building. The company also helped in the alignment of the Detroit-Windsor tunnel.
Edwin's work is a permanent fixture in the city. It was Edwin who first parceled land at "Gross Point" in 1835, mapping the area on the back of a shopping list. He also laid out Shelby, Cass, Wayne and Congress roads.
The Historical Society of Michigan recognizes the company as Michigan's oldest continuously operating business. It was established in 1828 on Woodward Ave. and has seen five Jerome men run it. A sixth generation, George Jerome Jr., is now working for the company.
Edwin began the company nine years before Michigan gained statehood. John Quincy Adams, who ran as a Democratic-Republican, was only the sixth president of the United States. It would be 11 years before Abner Doubleday would codify the rules of baseball and the first Confederate cannonball wouldn't penetrate the gates of Ft. Sumter until 1861.
The company has been handed from father to son as follows:
Edwin (1805-1880), son of Horace Jerome and Betsy Bell, founded George Jerome & Co. Edwin passed the company on to Franklin (1846-1906) and Franklin passed it to George (1870-1942). George turned the company over to Gilbert (1900-1971). Gilbert's son, George G. (1938-), took over in 1970. George G. had George G. Jr., who now works for the company.
It seems the Jerome's might be genetically disposed to surveying. George G. said the family tree can be traced to the country's forefathers. His great-great-great grandfather's wife Betsy was related to George Washington, himself a surveyor by trade.
Under George's ownership (third generation) the business incorporated and in 1928 moved to the First National Building. His father lived where the Statler Hotel stood. Before that it was located on Woodward Ave.