Stories from the Grave

Frank B. Desnoyers: 1859-1945

Posted July 28, 2020

Hello, I would like to wish you a fine how do. Name is Desnoyers, Frank B. Desnoyers. I am sure many of you know the name. My father was the 2nd mayor of Green Bay and I was the 27th person to be mayor. Funny thing is, even my stepfather, Dr. Charles Crane, served as the 17th and 19th mayor. So, I guess being a mayor was in my blood.

I was born and raised here in Green Bay. My father, Frank Desnoyers, whom I was named after, was a very successful businessman and owned a number of buildings and property along Washington Street. The most famous of these buildings was Uncle Frank’s Block. The building stood for sixty-six years, until in 1930, when it was torn down to make way for the new Woolworths at Cherry and Washington Streets. My father passed when I was nine years old. Such fond memories I have of him and all his stories of the early days of Green Bay. It was four year later, when mother married Dr. Charles Crane, who treated me as if I was his real son.

Since my time is short, let me tell you one quick story. It was 1894 I was on the city council, the city of Fort Howard started operation of an electric streetcar service, a year later the streetcars came to Green Bay. I along with the mayor and other city council members were aboard the first official transit of our streetcars. I had ridden streetcars before, but this was the first time here in Green Bay. The early tracks served just the immediate downtown area, but they soon expanded into outlying districts. One line expanded to De Pere and later to Kaukauna; another ran to Duck Creek. A popular summer line ran out to Bay Beach. Forty-three years later in 1937, I was aboard the last streetcar, which was celebrated with a parade. The street cars were replaced with motor buses. How I miss the clang of the bell and the occasional sparks caused when moving from wire to wire at intersections, but a city must keep up with changes. So next time you ride the city bus, think of me and the streetcars that once graced our streets.