10 things I love about Howell, 5 things I don’t, and 5 things I really miss

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I’ve lived in this quirky, unique community for over 25 years now, and I find it fits like a glove. Inspired by Buddy Moorehouse’s post “10 Things I love about Fowlerville, and 5 things I don’t”, here, in no particular order, are some of the things I love about Howell, as well as some of what I don’t love so much, and some of what I miss.


IMG_0165_2bradford_pears-300x2251. The trees and the sunflowers
Howell’s trees are plentiful, varied and beautiful. Fall is always lovely, and I especially love the Bradford Pear trees blooming in the spring. I also love the fields of sunflowers along I-96 and D-19 that brighten up the landscape every year.

2. The cool neighborhoods
There isn’t a single community in Livingston County to rival Howell’s great neighborhoods and amazing housing stock, from old Victorian homes to modern ranches and everything in between, all linked with sidewalks. Howell is blessed indeed.

uptowninside3. Uptown Coffeehouse
This jewel is my home away from home. I always spend extra time there because I run into people I know. And I’ve not had an extra-hot latte anywhere in the world that’s as delicious as what Uptown’s wonderful baristas make.

logo4. Howell Opera House
Howell is one of the luckiest communities in Michigan to still have an opera house. Howell is lucky, too, that the Livingston Arts Council bought the Opera House and has worked tirelessly to renovate it. These days, the Opera House is a dynamic facility, hosting entertainment events, art exhibitions, meetings, the Howell Winter Market, parties, and a host of other activities.

DSC_0047-25. Michigan Challenge Balloonfest
What’s not to love? Beautiful balloons. Fireworks. Carnival rides. Arts and crafts. Carnival food. People watching. There’s literally something for everyone, and the annual event has become a regional favorite.

6. The parking lots along Sibley Street
Sure, they’re parking lots, but what great-looking parking lots, complete with lovely landscaping and works of art.

Park shot7. Howell City Park
Residents are blessed with the Howell City Park, one of the finest small-town parks I’ve ever seen. From its popular beach area with concession stand to its open areas to its pavilions, the park welcomes one and all to enjoy it all year long.

8. Historic Howell Theater
I’ve seen some great movies at the Howell Theater, but it wasn’t until I had a kid that I truly appreciated the value of living within walking distance of a theater.

9. Cobb-Hall’s courtyard
1402020_10151636928962583_1919792349_oThe courtyard at Cobb-Hall Insurance in downtown Howell is a beautiful, welcoming place anytime of the year, but my favorite is at Christmas. Somebody ought to make a Christmas Card out of it. Thanks, Cobb-Hall!

10. Howell Carnegie District Library
Howell is blessed with this amazing library that has undergone sensitive expansions and renovations to keep it current and comfortable, while retaining its historic grace and beauty.


1. No downtown market
For years, Sefa’s was the go-to market for great meats, Guernsey dairy products, and quick in-and-outs. It was also a great community gathering spot – I don’t recall a single time I shopped there that I didn’t run into someone I knew. Now, it’s just one of the many dollar stores in the area.

2. Fireworks in the neighborhoods (especially mine)Cartoon illustration of Big firework ready to blow up
Living in a city carries with it some built-in responsibilities: Cut your grass, shovel your snow, watch out for your neighbors, etc. And yet there are some people in the city of Howell who forget that they live on small lots with neighbors close by, and instead of respecting others, they instead choose to celebrate holidays by disturbing the peace and quiet for hours on end with high-powered fireworks. Definitely not cool.

3. No street millage in the past
It’s a tale of two cities: Long, long ago, the City of Brighton approved a multi-year millage that reconstructed all its streets; in Howell, a similar measure was defeated. Since then, Howell’s done the best it can, fixing up the streets little by little, as the budget and grants allow. The result is today’s mishmash of curbs, semi-curbs, no curbs, swales, and swerve-abouts. Some streets aren’t wide enough to park on, while others have both on- and off-street parking, so it looks like there’s double parking allowed. All of it is a direct result of that failed street millage. If only Howell could get a do-over.

4. The Kroger parking lot
While I love the Kroger on M-59 and Michigan Avenue (and the gas station), I dread its parking lot. I don’t know why exactly, but the lot — for this driver, at least — is difficult to navigate. Maybe the parking spaces are smaller; maybe the angles of the lanes are off by a bit. Whatever the reason, it’s always nerve-wracking getting into and out of parking spaces.

5. Dogs at Howell’s many public events
Come on, people, leave your pooches at home.


1. Sefa’s Market (see “No downtown market” above).

2. Holkins Lumber
I loved Holkins and am thankful it was in operation during the years when we did a lot of work on our house. The service was great and the advice invaluable.

3. The Honeydew Restaurant
If you ever ate at the Honeydew, you understand why I miss it. It was a cool, unusual restaurant.

4. Gill Roy’s Complete Hardware
We couldn’t have the Howell Opera House (one of my favorite things) if this downtown hardware store were still operating in its old location, but I miss its service, knowledgeable staff and quirky merchandise. And they actually repaired things.

5. Crazy neighborhood Halloweens
Back in the late 1990s/early 2000s, Halloween was a good-natured competitive sport in southwest Howell neighborhoods, especially on Washington Street. Residents constructed some pretty amazing Halloween scenes — fire-breathing dragons, spaceships, graveyards, spooky lights, scary music — and trick or treaters would come from near and far.

So, what do YOU love and not love about Howell?

NOTE: This was originally posted on Jan. 7, 2016.

About Maria Stuart 81 Articles
Journalist Maria Stuart lives in Howell. She worked at The Livingston County Press/Livingston County Daily Press & Argus as reporter, editor and managing editor from 1990-2009. She is often spotted holding court at Uptown Coffeehouse.


  1. Love pretty much everything about Howell. I’ve lived here for all of my 45 years and I don’t see anything wrong with people taking their well behaved dogs to events downtown. Dog owners probably see kids they feel should be left at home at times too, but I for one am glad to see people and animals alike out exercising and enjoying this beautiful community. Nothing I don’t like but I do miss Anthony’s ….they had the best food and service ….great burgers!…. Old Howell House had the best malts and shakes… The old 5 and dime store, Consumers (the store not the energy company), street dances on the road next to the court house, going out to Hill Crest before there were homes there…and then to Silvermans for fries and a soda. I’ve seen so many changes over the years….miss some of the old but love all of the new too 🙂

  2. We lived in Howell 1969-1972 while my Dad taught at the High School. I have fond memories of the Old Howell House and O’Leary’s Bakery. Makes my mouth water just thinking about O’Leary’s!

  3. I miss some things about Howell too much that I really liked. The old Howell House restaurant-Spags-Anthonys–remember the Igloo with Santa at the court house? Baldwins Hardware with all the toys downstairs! D&C and Dancer’s was a wonderful store. Been here since 1969. Was a wonderful place the grow up.

  4. We’ve lived in Howell for 20 years now. We love that it’s still a rural community, Marks Midtown Cafe, Heart of Michigan, Bella’s and Grundy’s. We miss D&C, and Greene’s.

  5. So many great things about Howell! Would love to see a Trader Joes (or similar) specialty market in our area. Think it would make a wonderful addition!

  6. Return trips: like seeing the new things in Howell and Livingston County when I return every few years after moving to Colorado in 1980 which I last did this past June for HHS class reunion and to work on Citizens’ Insurance 100th anniversary. Miss seeing the locally prominent old timers who have passed away. See the comments on the D & C store at the main four corners: recall in the ’60s first rang the bell for the Salvation Army in front of this store and got very cold. I have done this in the Denver area full or part time for 30 seasons and recall from that first experience to dress warm for this work. Busy at this time so maybe more later. Have accumulated files of notes and memorabilia from my Howell memories and have shared some with the Howell Carnegie Library, for which I am impressed with there handling growth and changes.

  7. 10 likes:
    – Grew to age 14 in Howell. Came of age there, ideal American place to grow up.

    -Memories of Highlander Varsity Football, 1955 undefeated team with Dick McMacken, et al.

    -Hockey on the town rink, on the lake. Bob Ziska and others taught me the game. ’50s Red Wings with Howe, Sawchuck, Ullman, and Al Arbor my heroes.

    – Living where it was a short walk or bike ride to friends’ homes.

    – Swimming in Howell Lake

    – Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, now gone, lived close by, were loving and lovable.

    – walking to school past courthouse and through downtown, any time of year.

    – The Ann Arbor RR depot and the nice lady who let me listen to the trainmen talking on the company radio.

    – Sunday family drives to State San Hill, and to Cohoctah to see the bear who lived at the gas station.

    – The Timbers

    – Standing with kid friends at the RR crossing at Barnard St. on Michigan vs. MSU game day. Waving to the passengers in the Pullmans, pulled by a wonderful old steam loco.

    – Jack Vince

    Things I don’t like about Howell:

    – I don’t remember any. I was sorry to leave, sorry I didn’t get to finish growing up with my Howell friends. Think of them often and fondly.

  8. I like the Balloonfest and Howell Park. 2 Don’t like the parking on the streets when they have a driveway that’s empty to park in and Kroger parking lot.

  9. Halloween still is a big deal for some of us on W Washington. I do a substantial graveyard and have spent, probably, over $1500 in props. Every year I expand it.

    • Nice that you do that! I grew up on the other side of town by Northwest school. The kids really do appreciate you doing all that. They will grow up having good neighborhood memories! I know I did.

  10. I miss Anthony’s Diner. They had great food; great, friendly service, and the building was always very clean.

  11. Born and raised in Howell. 1955 grad Howell H.S. Have not been back to Howell in 45 yrs. Miss lifelong friends living there, my old neighborhood (307 W. Brooks), Thompson Lake, down town main st., Jewett St. bridge. Don’t miss: mosquitos!!

  12. Love the list and agree with all of it, especially the Kroger parking lot; I thought it was just me! Cobb Hall patio, Heart of Michigan, opera house all great. Agree that I miss Sefas. And dislike the fireworks in town like you, Maria.

  13. What do I like about Howell downtown. It has some interesting fronts on the businesses, the art displayed on the stores. The town seems to be quite neat especially in the summer when flower filled large pots are on the sidewalks. I have lived here for 71 years and there has been quite a lot of change. What do I miss, many things, The quietness of the town, the D&C store where the Rustic Tavern is located, the clothing and department stores in town, being able to park easily on Grand River to shop at the present stores. What I do not like, the entryways in some of the stores (the stairs going into the stores is not very handicap friendly, not many easy parking spaces close to the entryway to stores, not knowing the residents of the town and shop owners and their employees it used to be like. I still love my hometown whether there are things I don’t care about. HAPPY NEW YEAR.

  14. Lived in Howell until I was 25 and moved to Florida 18 years ago. I miss Gus’s Breadsticks! I’m sad that D&C is no longer there. Miss the Fantasy of Lights and Balloonfest. Driving down dirt roads. Michigan sweet corn in the summertime.

  15. Great article! I’m glad to find out I’m not the only one who stresses out in the Kroger parking lot. Have had – and seen – dozens of near misses there over the past two decades.

  16. I’ve lived in Howell my entire life.
    There a lot of things to love: the farmer’s market during the summer, festivals and a wonderful library.
    I don’t like the street parking in the neighborhoods along Thompson Lake, the change in hands of Mr. B’s, and the parking of the post office.
    I miss Spags (they’re awesome melon ice cream), The Highland House, Eclectic Twist, and the old movie rental place that used to be across from VG’s.

    • The movie place across from VG’s, Marshall’s Movie World!! That was seriously the best.

  17. I love the article and agree with everything. My additions would be:

    Love:The historic nature of downtown Howell. The Courthouse is beautiful and a functional space for events like the Concerts at the Courthouse (love those, too). The community that supports nonprofits by volunteering and donating. By the way, the volunteers in Livingston County are the best anywhere!

    Hate:The politics (call me Pollyanna), Grand River Avenue (could it be any wider?)

    Miss:Really nothing in downtown Howell. It just keeps getting better and better with Heart of Michigan, Heart of Howell and a whole list of existing and new stores and restaurants. Maybe I miss the corn beef and cabbage at the Copper Pickle.

  18. I miss: The Old Howell House, Honeydew Café and Sefa’s. Don’t love: The traffic. I remember going down D-19 or up Oak Grove Rd. (same road) you would see a few cars on your journey. There are so many cars on the road. I think to myself…where did all these people come from? I HATE ROUND ABOUTS! just sayin’ Love: Panara Bread, Being able to walk along the lake by the cemetery. Farmers Market, Just a few minutes outside of town your in the country.

  19. Great list….I too don’t like not having a market in the area. Not a grocery, but a market. Like a Westborn, or a Plum, or a Holiday. Somewhere where you can get great produce, that has an awesome meat case, great bakery, maybe a small wine corner….come on Howell, I really think the area as it is now could support it. Hey…Chef Adam!!!!

  20. You’re so spot on Maria. I also love the Sunday Farmer’s Market and the availability of local fresh food from May through October. The fact that we have a lake in the middle of our town is incredible. I love that we have so many “fun runs” and cycling events attached to our many festivals & holidays that promote healthy living for Livingston County families and bring in walkers, cyclists & runner from all over the state. The crazy Tuba Fest, I mean c’mon, who has that??!! Carnegie Library was at the top of my list when our girls were young. And best of all is the Michigan made black cherry ice cream at the Caboose. There are many things I would like to change, Most importantly I wish we were a more diverse community and that it was a safe to be “out” for our young people. My biggest wish would be for a City Council with wisdom, insight and the ability to move our city forward to the next level of “coolness”, because Howell truly is a cool city.

  21. I moved to Florida after living in Howell for 22 years, born and raised, graduated from Howell High School. DON’T EVER LEAVE HOWELL!!!!! Trust me, it’s the best place in the country! I could never pick my favorite place because they were all great, but who remembers Anthony’s??!!! Best olive burgers ever!! Not to mention some pretty great employers! My first job, when I was 15!

  22. You nailed it! My only addition would be my love of Diamonds Tavern and my dislike of downtown traffic at peak times.

  23. Great list, Maria! Totally agree on the parking lot at Kroger. Here are some of mine for Howell:

    LOVE: Chinese Delight, Concerts at the Courthouse, plays at the Community Theatre of Howell, having a post office downtown that you can walk to.

    DON’T LOVE: The teeny-tiny roundabouts, parking at the Howell Post Office.

    MISS: The Old Howell House, the Midget, Honeydew Cafe, the Holiday Inn, Marion Oaks Golf Course.

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