Howell is a picture-perfect example of a small Michigan town that serves as the seat of its county's government. The courthouse ( LV1) rests atop a grassy rise, with its clock tower visible from a considerable distance. Stores line each side of Grand River Avenue. Originally called Livingston Centre, the village was settled in 1834 by former residents of Dutchess County, New York, who migrated here along the Grand River Trail. The community was platted in 1835 and was chosen as the county seat in 1836 because of its central location and its cohesive settlement. By 1838 Howell had a flouring mill and a sawmill, and soon after, a hotel. Howell's economy was strengthened by the McPherson family, headed by Scottish immigrant William McPherson, who settled here in 1836. The family amassed its fortunes in the 1860s from lumbering and dairying; McPherson also founded the McPherson bank in 1865. Designated a Cool Cities Main Street by then-governor Jennifer Granholm in 2005, Howell receives technical assistance as part of a long-term management approach to revitalizing and maintaining successful downtowns.
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