Miller-Davis Company: Building Contractors
The Miller-Davis Company, one of Kalamazoo’s oldest successful businesses, has been building Kalamazoo for nearly a century. It had its beginnings in the O.F. Miller Company, founded in 1909 by Orville F. Miller. In 1923, Cameron L. Davis, a local man, joined the firm as junior engineer and estimator. After a two-year stint at a Detroit firm, he returned to O.F. Miller as chief engineer. In 1936, the firm was reorganized as Miller-Davis Company, having previously spun off the Miller Lumber Company. At that time, Davis became active in the management of the company, and served as its president for nearly 40 years until his retirement in 1973. He developed it into an award-winning construction firm, widely known for the quality of its work.
Carver Center, southwest corner of Lovell and Park Streets
Source: Kalamazoo Public Library Photo, Miller-Davis Collection, MD-1788
In its early decades, Miller-Davis concentrated its building efforts in the area paper mills, but as the paper industry began to wane, the company branched off into the construction of buildings for college campuses to accommodate the post-war boom in education created by returning servicemen who were taking advantage of the GI bill. Gradually it has expanded into other industrial, commercial and institutional work. It rarely engages in residential work, but did serve as general contractor for Kalamazoo's Ingersoll Village project in the 1940's. Although it has completed projects in 17 states, most of its work is concentrated in Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. Today it is one of the largest building contractors in the state, serving its customers from its headquarters on Portage Street.
Kalamazoo’s Best Known
Over the years, its impact on Kalamazoo has been considerable. Even a short list of well-known buildings gives some sense of Miller-Davis's contribution to the city: the old Upjohn Company office building on Henrietta Street, City Hall, the County Building, the Fifth Third Bank tower (originally American National Bank), Civic Auditorium, Carver Center, Stetson Chapel, Loy Norrix High School, South Junior High School, Southwest Michigan Tuberculosis Sanitarium (later the Northwest Unit of Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital), St. Augustine Cathedral, First Congregational Church, Zion Lutheran Church, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and Kalamazoo Public Library. There are dozens more.
Zion Lutheran Church, 2122 Bronson Blvd.
Kalamazoo Public Library Photo, Miller-Davis Collection MD-1234
Construction firms typically take many photographs to document their work. Miller-Davis is no exception and has recently donated its large photo archives to the Kalamazoo Public Library's Clarence L. Miller Family Local History Room. The photos have been scanned and are currently being cataloged. Many are now available on the library's website.