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Frankenmuth is a city in Saginaw County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 4,944 at the 2010 census. The city is surrounded by Frankenmuth Township. Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, which bills itself as "the World's Largest Christmas Store", is located in Frankenmuth.

City of Frankenmuth, Michigan
The Bavarian Inn in downtown Frankenmuth
The Bavarian Inn in downtown Frankenmuth
Official seal of City of Frankenmuth, Michigan
Little Bavaria, Muth, The Muth
Location of Frankenmuth, Michigan.
Location of Frankenmuth, Michigan.
Coordinates: 43°19′56″N 83°44′31″W / 43.33222°N 83.74194°W / 43.33222; -83.74194
CountryUnited States
Incorporated (village)January 14, 1904
Incorporated (city)October 1, 1959
 • TypeCouncil-manager
 • MayorMary Anne Ackerman
 • City ManagerBridget Smith[1]
 • Total3.08 sq mi (7.98 km2)
 • Land3.03 sq mi (7.84 km2)
 • Water0.06 sq mi (0.15 km2)
633 ft (193 m)
 • Total4,944
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,733.97/sq mi (669.42/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
Zip Code
Area code(s)989
FIPS code26-30200[5]
GNIS feature ID0626405[6]

The city's name is a combination of two words. "Franken" represents the Province of Franconia in the Kingdom of Bavaria where the original settlers were from. The German word "Mut" means courage; thus, the name Frankenmuth means "courage of the Franconians."[7] The most popular nickname is "Little Bavaria",[8] but the city is also nicknamed "Muth".[9]



The area was settled and named by conservative Lutheran immigrants from Roßtal area of Franconia in Germany.[10] The group of settlers left Germany aboard the Caroline on April 20, 1845, and arrived at Castle Garden seven weeks later. They traveled via canals and the Great Lakes from New York to Detroit and arrived in August 1845. Sailing then on the Nelson Smith, the settlers made their way to Saginaw and traveled over land to the present location the city of Frankenmuth.[10]

The purpose of the settlement was primarily religious; the Lutheran group planned to start a mission among the native Americans. One of the first large buildings was a church; within a few years their attempts to convert the locals failed, since most of them moved away.[11]

The settlers selected a slightly hilly area which reminded them of their native Mittelfranken and began building rough shelters there. Frankenmuth was to be an exclusively German Lutheran community; the colonists pledged to remain loyal to Germany, specifically the Kingdom of Bavaria (German: Königreich Bayern), and to be faithful to the German language.[12] Germans continued arriving until the start of the Second World War.[13]

The Nickless-Hubinger Flour Mill; the current building opened in 1982

The community was originally part of Bridgeport Township and later Frankenmuth Township,[10][14] Frankenmuth became a village in 1904. In 1938, the village hired its first village manager, Herbert L. Keinath. The village was incorporated as a city on October 1, 1959, with Keinath becoming city manager.[1]

The nearby villages of Frankenlust, Frankentrost, and Frankenhilf (now known as Richville) further illustrate that the area remained a magnet for other Germans emigrating from the same region. The German, and in particular, Bavarian culture of the town has been preserved and passed down through the generations. The German language is still prevalent in signage and speech, and German speakers continue to reside in the town to this day. In addition, the church of St. Lorenz offers monthly services in the German language.[15]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.04 square miles (7.87 km2), of which 2.99 square miles (7.74 km2) is land and 0.05 square miles (0.13 km2) is water.[16] The Cass River passes through the town.


Census Pop.
Est. 20185,401[4]9.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[17]

2010 censusEdit

Largest ancestries (2010)[18] Percent
German   49.4%
English   12.9%
Polish   8.5%
Irish   6.3%
American   4.4%
French     4.0%

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 4,944 people, 2,200 households, and 1,313 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,653.5 inhabitants per square mile (638.4/km2). There were 2,396 housing units at an average density of 801.3 per square mile (309.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97.4% White, 0.5% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 0.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.9% of the population.

There were 2,200 households of which 23.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.5% were married couples living together, 7.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 2.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.3% were non-families. 37.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 22.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.82.

The median age in the city was 50.1 years. 19.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 5.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 17.9% were from 25 to 44; 28% were from 45 to 64; and 28.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 44.9% male and 55.1% female.

2000 censusEdit

Languages (2000)[19] Percent
Spoke English at home 84.78%
Spoke German at home 8.74%
Spoke Spanish at home 0.77%
Largest ancestries (2000)[18] Percent
German   52.9%
English   13.2%
Irish   9.5%
Polish   7.9%
French     6.0%
American   5.8%

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 4,838 people, 2,123 households, and 1,322 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,773.6 per square mile (684.2/km²). There were 2,240 housing units at an average density of 821.2 per square mile (316.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 98.80% White, 0.27% African American, 0.21% Native American, 0.29% Asian, 0.06% from other races, and 0.37% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.95% of the population.

Citizens with German ancestry form nearly 53% of the city population.

24.8% households have children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.8% were married couples living together, 5.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.7% were non-families. 35.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.82.

In the city, the population was spread out with 20.4% under the age of 18, 4.7% from 18 to 24, 21.3% from 25 to 44, 25.3% from 45 to 64, and 28.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 48 years. For every 100 females, there were 80.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $51,153, and the median income for a family was $71,667. Males had a median income of $51,004 versus $29,959 for females. The per capita income for the city was $30,479. About 2.4% of families and 4.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.2% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over.


Frankenmuth, Michigan Visitor Center
Riverside shops in Frankenmuth

Tourism and farming drive the local economy. Frankenmuth draws over three million tourists annually to its Bavarian-themed shops and restaurants such as the Bavarian Inn, Frankenmuth Brewery, Zehnder's, and Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. Frankenmuth also attracts tourists with festivals and other events throughout the year.[20]

In addition to tourism, a significant number of residents in and around the community work in agriculture.


Frankemuth architecture (Rummel Platz office building on Main Street)

The strong influence of Franconian-style architecture can be found in most areas of the city. Most buildings in the commercial district, as well as many homes, feature stylistic interpretations of the timber-framed buildings found in the Franconia region of Germany. This style is marked by the use of timbers in "square" and "X" patterns on the outside of buildings, as well as the use of "X" patterns on windows, doors, and other building features.


The city has a council-manager form of government.[1] The city is served by the Frankenmuth School District.


  • Oktoberfest: In 1990, Frankenmuth, also known as "Michigan's Little Bavaria," celebrated its first Oktoberfest. The Frankenmuth Oktoberfest celebrates German culture, heritage and love. Frankenmuth has a unique German heritage and culture. The Frankenmuth Oktoberfest strives to preserve and share the sights and sounds as well as the food and drink of the Munich Oktoberfest. The goal of the festival is to also retain and celebrate the local Bavarian heritage of the region. Frankenmuth is the first Oktoberfest outside of Munich to be sanctioned by the Parliament and the City of Munich.[21]
When Lord Mayor Christian Ude and the German Parliament from Munich gave the official proclamation in 1996, Frankenmuth's Oktoberfest was declared the first Oktoberfest to operate with the blessing of the original Oktoberfest in Munich. With this proclamation, the event was moved into September to coincide with the opening of the Munich event. Also, for the first time in history, the world-famous Hofbräuhaus brewery of Munich exported their beer to the United States. Local businessman, Fred Schumacher and later President of Hofbräuhaus of America took care of the formalities to get the beer to Frankenmuth in time for the Oktoberfest.[22]
  • Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival: This is Michigan's largest Bavarian heritage festival. Beginning in 1959, it is an annual summer celebration of Bavarian culture and values through food, drink, traditional activities and music.
  • Frankenmuth SnowFest: Frankenmuth is also host to one of the top snow-sculpting events in North America, Zehnder's SnowFest, which includes the United States Collegiate National Ice Carving Championships.[23]
  • Frankenmuth Fire Muster: For several years, on the last Saturday in July, the Great Lakes International Antique Fire Apparatus Association (GLIAFAA) holds their annual fire muster, complete with parade, at Heritage Park, displaying restored antique vintage fire trucks, along with several ambulances and police cars, for the public to view and learn a little about the vehicles, their time in active service, and how they came into the ownership of their preservationists, including several of the apparatus showing off their firefighting capabilities along the riverfront. [24]

Places of interestEdit

Covered bridgeEdit

Covered bridge entrance, Frankenmuth, Michigan

Zehnder's Holzbrücke (German for wooden bridge) is a wooden covered bridge, built in a style similar to that of the Black Forest or a river valley in Switzerland, located over the Cass River in the middle of town. Though completed in 1979, the structure is constructed using traditional covered-bridge timber framing techniques. The floor joists and three-span Town lattice truss system of the 239 feet (73 m) bridge are made of 15,960 board feet (37.7 m3) of 4-inch (100 mm) planks. The portion receiving the greatest wear is of oak while the remaining portion is spruce. 20,000 board feet (47 m3) of Douglas Fir make up the rafters and the roof is shingled with cedar. An additional 4,340 board feet (10.2 m3) of pine was required for the bridge side boards. In addition to two lanes for automobile traffic, the bridge also has two pedestrian walkways.[25]

Heritage ParkEdit

Heritage Park is Frankenmuth's most well-known park. It is located at 601 Weiss Street and is home to many community activities, festivals and large events. The Harvey E. Kern Community Pavilion is the newest addition and has become a focal point of the park. The park also features 4 picnic pavilions, 3 ball diamonds, playgrounds, sand volleyball courts, basketball court, riverwalk pathway 0.9 miles (1.4 km) and several facilities for festivals.[26]

The West Entrance to Bronner's Christmas Wonderland.

Silent-Night-Chapel ReplicaEdit

A scale replica of the Silent-Night-Chapel, where "Silent Night" was originally performed in 1818, is located on the southern end of the property of Bronner's.[27]

Print mediaEdit

Frankenmuth NewsEdit

The Frankenmuth News has been Frankenmuth's primary newspaper since 1906. It is released on a weekly basis (Wednesday for news stands and Thursday for residential) and focuses on issues of local concern.[28]

Sister cityEdit

Notable residentsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Tower, Mark (September 8, 2016). "Frankenmuth offers city manager job to Saginaw Township official". The Saginaw News. Mlive Media Group. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  2. ^ "2017 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jan 3, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  7. ^ Frankenmuth. Images of America. Arcadia Publishing. 2008. ISBN 978-0-7385-6175-2.
  8. ^ Jordan, Heather (September 12, 2014). "Gov. Rick Snyder speaks to Saginaw County Chamber crowd in 'Michigan's Little Bavaria'". The Saginaw News. MLive Media Group. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  9. ^ Tabacsko, Ken (February 9, 2008). "'Phantom' veteran performs in 'Muth". The Saginaw News. MLive Media Group. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c Mills, James (1918). History of Saginaw County, Michigan: historical, commercial, biographical, Volume 2. Seeman & Peters.
  11. ^ Michael Schmitz (February 28, 2017). "Frankenmuth – Michigan's Little Bavaria". ThoughtCo.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Michael Schmitz (February 28, 2017). "Frankenmuth – Michigan's Little Bavaria". ThoughtCo.
  14. ^ Public and local acts of the Legislature of the State of Michigan. Legislative Service Bureau. 1960. p. 302.
  15. ^ Michael Schmitz (February 28, 2017). "Frankenmuth – Michigan's Little Bavaria". ThoughtCo.
  16. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 2, 2012. Retrieved November 25, 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  17. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  18. ^ a b (Frankenmuth city, Michigan Selected Social Characteristics (Household and Family Type, Disability, Citizenship, Ancestry, Language, ...)
  19. ^
  20. ^ Knake, Lindsey (February 21, 2013). "Frankenmuth is Michigan's top attraction by 1 million visitors, Bridge Magazine report shows". MLive. Saginaw News. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  21. ^ Yfat Yossifor (September 18, 2013). "Frankenmuth's Oktoberfest is a recipe for fun with German music, dancing and beer". mLIVE.
  22. ^
  23. ^ Orrin Shawl (January 29, 2012). "Snow and cold don't keep crowds from Zehnder's Snowfest 2012 in Frankenmuth on Sunday". The Flint Journal. Archived from the original on July 1, 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  24. ^ "GLIAFAA Frankenmuth Fire Muster". Retrieved April 4, 2019.
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 11, 2013. Retrieved July 11, 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ City of Frankenmuth Heritage Park Archived April 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on December 28, 2011
  27. ^ Bronner's. "Silent Night Chapel at Bronner's". Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
  28. ^ Frankenmuth News

Further readingEdit

  • Florer, Warren Washburn. Early Michigan Settlements, Vol. 1: Washtenaw, Westphalia, Frankenmuth, Detroit, 1848. Ann Arbor: Herold Printing Co., 1941.
  • Johnston, Keith R. "Frankenmuth, Michigan: from German Settlement to Tourist Attraction." Master of Liberal Studies in American Culture diss., University of Michigan—Flint, 1988.
  • Pollen, T. J. History of Frankenmuth: with Short Sketches of the Old Settlers.
  • Zehnder, Herman F. Teach My People the Truth: the Story of Frankenmuth, Michigan. 1970.

External linksEdit