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Situated in the southern part of Arenac County, the City of Standish serves as the county seat.

Standish is about five miles from Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron.

US-23/M-13 (Huron Road) runs north-south through the city, intersecting M-61, which runs between Marion and Standish, downtown. M-61 (West Cedar Street) ends at its connection with US-23/M-13, while East Cedar Street exits the city as Pine River Road. Other routes leading to and from Standish include Deep River Road, Duprie Road, Johnsfield Road, Palmer Road, Wheeler Road, and Old M-10. M-61 connects with I-75 to the west, while US-23 connects with the interstate southwest of Standish.

Cities and villages within twenty miles of Standish include Sterling, Omer, Pinconning, Twining, Au Gres, Turner, and Prescott, while Pine River and Whites Beach are unincorporated communities within ten miles.

With a total land area of 2.18 square miles, Standish had a population of 1,458 at the time of the 2020 census. Its peak population was 1,581 in 2000.

Like many Michigan communities, Standish was founded as a railroad town. John D. Standish built a mill in the area in 1871.

Anticipating the construction of the Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw Railroad (Michigan Central Railroad) line between West Bay City and Mackinaw, Mr. Standish offered a right-of-way for the railroad to build its line north through Standish. In September of 1871, the line was built through Standish, although it only went as far north as Wells Station. A train depot was built on the south side of West Cedar Street and named for Mr. Standish, who owned all of the lands in the area at that time.

A hotel was opened in Standish in 1871. Known as the Standish House, it was owned by Sheriff Burmel. The village was originally in Bay County, and Burmel served as the county sheriff. The hotel changed ownership several times before being burned in March 1902.

A post office was established on January 17, 1872, with James S. Gailey as postmaster.

Mr. Standish arranged for Peter M. Angus to plat the village. While Mr. Standish was away, the name of the village was changed to Granton and recorded under that name on December 6, 1872. However, Mr. Standish was able to persuade the state legislature to change it back to Standish on April 13, 1874.

Standish was part of Bay County until Arenac County was organized in July of 1883, and Standish was designated the county seat. Standish was incorporated as a village in 1893 and became a city in 1904.

Today, the Standish railroad depot is unused, although it was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1977, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 as the Michigan Central Railroad Standish Depot. The last passenger train stopped in Standish in 1955, after which the depot was used for freight until 1965. In 1988, it was renovated and converted into office space and is currently used as a welcome center along US-23.

From 1990 to 2009, the Standish Maximum Correctional Facility was operated by the Michigan Department of Corrections. It consisted of five 88-bed housing units and one 164-bed unit. Scheduled to close, the US government expressed interest in relocating Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the facilities but, due to objection from Michigan public officials, the Obama Administration removed Standish as a candidate facility. On October 31, 2009, the facility was closed and remains empty.

The focal point of this portion of our web guide is the City of Standish, Michigan. Online resources pertaining to the municipal government or any other governmental body located within the city, such as the county offices, are appropriate for this category, along with local businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, events, entertainment venues, and recreational opportunities.


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