Harry M. Jewett

Harry Jewett was born in Elmira, New York on August 14, 1870. He attended the University of Notre Dame where he played varsity baseball, and set records in track. In 1887-88 he played halfback on the Fighting Irish 1st varsity football team and was the first player to ever score a touchdown against Michigan, their big rival. He graduated in 1890 with a degree in Civil Engineering. During the next ten years he became involved in various successful mining ventures, and by the turn of the century he had amassed a small fortune.


He became interested in the infant automobile industry and acquired a car designed by Andrew Bachle, which was being promoted by Fred O. Paige under the name of ‘Paige’. In 1909 he hired Paige as President of his newly formed Paige-Detroit Motor Car Company. By 1910 Jewett had learned more about the mechanical aspects of automobiles and soon discovered his Paige to be a poor quality machine. He consequently fired Fred Paige and assumed the presidency and instated a new engineering department to redesign the car. The new car was a dramatic improvement over the older one, and through ambitious marketing, based on its reputation for good performance, and graceful styling Paige sales grew considerably. The company offered it’s first Six-cylinder car in 1915 and for twelve years continued to produce an upper quality line of models under the direction of Jewett.


His automobile interests expanded, as did his successful reputation in the industry. In 1912 Jewett also became the President of the problematic Lozier Motor Company. He resigned from that position in 1913.


In 1922, still President of Paige-Detroit Motor Car Company, Mr. Jewett was instrumental in introducing a quality; Six-cylinder, smaller companion car to the Paige called the Jewett. This car, along with the Paige, was produced until the end of 1926 when Jewett saw sales drop, and his losses mounting upwards of two and a half million dollars. He had had enough of the automobile business! On January 1, 1927 the Graham brothers, former truck builders, bought most of Jewett’s interests in his company and dropped the Jewett name. They continued to produce the Jewett but marketed it as a Paige Six along with the other Paige models. In June 1927 they bought Mr. Jewett’s remaining interests ending his involvement in the automobile industry.


In 1907 he bought acreage at Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan and began building a white clapboard, Colonial Revival style, summer home. This lovely home was finished in 1909 and given the address of 625 Lake Shore Road. At that time Lake Shore Road was referred to as “Gasoline Alley” because of the newly rich automakers building their mansions along the panoramic shores of Lake St. Clair.


After selling his companies in 1926-27, Mr. Jewett accepted a position as President of the Colonial Laundry Company of Detroit. He died of a heart attack on June 16, 1933, in his sixty-second year, while living at his Grosse Pointe Shores residence.


In 1944 the State of Michigan acquired a 4300-acre tract of land in Ogemaw County, 140 miles North of Detroit that had belonged to Mr. Jewett, which was later, sold by his widow. Harry Jewett, while living, was known for importing and raising a variety of game birds on this property that he ultimately released there. A 12-acre lake on the property, originally named Dollar Lake, was renamed Jewett Lake. Today this lake and others in the area comprise Michigan’s Rifle River State Park.