Local History Photos

A. L. Noble House and Carriage House, 1882 and 1892


A. L. Noble House and Carriage House, 1882 and 1892

320-322 South Division Street

A. L. Noble House and Carriage House, 1882 and 1892

Adelbert L. Noble came to Ann Arbor in 1869 to study at the University of Michigan. "Difficulty with his eyes would not permit of his continuing his studies and he turned his mind toward business" wrote the county history of 1881. After six years in the clothing business with Joe T. Jacobs, Noble sold his interest and opened the Star Clothing Store at the corner of Main and Washington Streets. Star specialized in "Men's, Boys' and Children's" clothing, advertising "Plain Figures and One Price."

By 1883 Noble was successful enough to buy this piece of land from Henry Bennett who had built the Kempf House next door in 1853. Noble erected a large and imposing brick house, transitional in style from the Italianate to Queen Anne. The slate roof, decorative chimneys, pressed brick, arched windows, and carved wood details on porches, gable corners, and brackets show the influence of both styles. The fine stonework over the windows illustrates the craftsmanship of Anton Eisele.

In 1892 Noble became the first president of the State Savings Bank. He erected the carriage house in the rear of the property and the two buildings form a unique grouping, now very rare in central Ann Arbor.

After Noble's death in 1894, followed by his wife in 1902, the house had a succession of owners until 1920 when Dr. David M. Cowie purchased it. Dr. Cowie, a physician and Professor of Pediatrics and Infectious Diseases at the University of Michigan, turned the home into a private hospital. One of Cowie's major achievements was the adoption on a statewide basis of the use of iodized salt to prevent goiter. After Cowie's death in 1940, the house and carriage house were both converted to apartments and remain as such today.


Article Keywords: Houses, Italianate Architecture, Queen Anne Style Architecture
People: Adelbert L. Noble, Anton Eisele, David Murray Cowie
Places: 320-322 S Division St

Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held by: Photos used to illustrate Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan / by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg.

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John and Andrew Jackson House, 1847/1863


John and Andrew Jackson House, 1847/1863

603 West Liberty Street

John and Andrew Jackson House, 1847/1863

John and Andrew Jackson wasted no time in purchasing this lot from William S. Maynard after he platted the land and added it to the City of Ann Arbor in 1846. It is likely they built the Liberty Street portion of this house sometime in the fall of 1847, for, when they sold the property eight years later in 1855, they tripled their money.

The south wing, which appears on the 1866 "birds-eye" view was probably added by laborer John M. Weitbrecht, who purchased the property in 1862. The Weitbrecht family occupied this corner until the turn of the century. The estate sold the property to John and Lydia Kuehnle (she may have been Weitbrecht's daughter) for $1400 in 1898 and it remained a single family house throughout the 20th century. By the 1930s it also had a commercial use. The rear portion facing Fourth Street housed the Lunsford Bakery, famous for its cinnamon rolls, from 1935 to 1970.

The main part of the house, which is clapboard, is the New England folk form known as an "I" house: two stories high, two rooms wide, one room deep, with a central hallway. The fieldstone foundation of this portion is much lower than the brick foundation of the south wing, where the land slopes away from the house. This rear section also has a central entry, but is only one story high. The four-over-four windows in the wing appear to be original as does the glass.

William and Susan Johnson, the present owners, restored the exterior by removing the asphalt siding and corrugated canopy that had hidden the classical front doorway and original clapboards. Today the Johnsons are extending the south wing and the house remains a fine example of the vernacular type of house built in the Old West Side up to the Civil War.


Article Keywords: Fourth St, Houses, I-House Architecture, Lunsford Bakery, Old West Side
People: Andrew Jackson, John Jackson, John Kuehnle, John M. Weitbrecht, Lydia Gross Kuehnle, Susan Johnson, William Johnson, William S. Maynard
Places: 603 W Liberty St

Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held by: Photos used to illustrate Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan / by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg.

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Kellogg-Warden House, 1835-1839


Kellogg-Warden House, 1835-1839

500 North Main Street

Kellogg-Warden House, 1835-1839
Museum on Main Street

The building that now houses the Washtenaw County Historical Society's Museum on Main Street (MOMs) was once a private residence on Wall Street, in the section of Ann Arbor across the Huron River known as "Lower Town." It is a rare survivor of the first decades of life in Ann Arbor.

The house exhibits interesting construction features that disappeared from use shortly after the 1830s including the accordion or split lathe backing for the plaster walls, very wide plank floors, and brick "nogging" in the walls???_an early form of insulation. Fancy detailing on the exterior includes the front entrance, which is a complex unit of sidelights and transom, and the returns on the side gables. Channel and corner block trim grace the front parlor and the beautiful curving staircase in the front hallway is reminiscent of New England. A small ivory knob on top of the newel post, called an "amity button" or "mortgage button," was an indication that the house was free and clear of debt.

The house was built by members of the Kellogg and Ethan Warden families (Warden's wife was a Kellogg), pioneers from Cayuga County, New York. The house was constructed in various stages in the 1830s, the last being in 1839 when the patriarch of the family, the Honorable Charles Kellogg, moved to Ann Arbor. The Kelloggs had been millers and merchants in New York and ran similar businesses here.

The Kelloggs did not "strike it rich" and only one member of the family remained in Ann Arbor (the others either died here or went back to New York). The house stood empty after Charles' death in 1843 until the Ruthruff family purchased it in 1853 and occupied it for three decades. In the 1890s it became the property of Charles Greiner, a gardener, whose descendants remained in the house for nearly a century. In 1989 the Washtenaw County Historical Society intervened to save the house from demolition, and moved it to its present site. The City of Ann Arbor provided the land for the new location while the University of Michigan donated the building and some funds for moving it.


Article Keywords: Houses, Kellogg-Warden House, Lower Town, Museum on Main Street, Museums
People: Charles Greiner, Charles Kellogg
Places: 500 N Main St

Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held by: Photos used to illustrate Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan / by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg.

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Robert MacKenzie House, 1916/1927


Robert MacKenzie House, 1916/1927

1422 West Liberty Street

Robert MacKenzie House (Anna Botsford Bach Home), 1916/1927

Dr. Robert MacKenzie, a prominent physician and head of the University of Michigan's Obstetrics Department built this neo-classical Italian villa in 1916. Unlike most of his colleagues, MacKenzie and his wife preferred to be in the "country" and have more acreage. Thus they built their new home on the far west side of town where many of Dr. MacKenzie's patients lived. Dr. MacKenzie was fluent in German, which made him popular among the many Germans living on the West Side.

When construction began in 1916, the architect suggested a third floor with a ballroom, but Mrs. MacKenzie vehemently objected to such ostentation. Even without a ballroom it was a grand house, with spacious rooms, verandas, a central hall big enough to play football, and two large fieldstone fireplaces. Ten years later Dr. MacKenzie's health began to fail and in 1926 he and his wife moved to their summer house in Frankfort, Michigan. He died there in 1930.

The spacious house soon proved it could handle a larger family. MacKenzie had been instrumental in expanding St. Joseph Mercy Hospital from its beginnings in a house on North State Street. That house later became the first Old Ladies Home. After the addition of a third floor, the Old Ladies Home moved into the MacKenzie house in 1927 and has been here ever since. The name soon changed to the Anna Botsford Bach Home, in honor of the energetic woman who had worked tirelessly to create a home for elderly women.

Today, more than 75 years later, the goal of the Anna Botsford Bach Home remains the same: to provide a homelike atmosphere for its sixteen elderly residents. The women are friends and companions, and there is a sense of affection and respect for the special care provided there. Through careful maintenance by the Board of Trustees, this structure and its beautifully landscaped site provide grade and charm to Liberty Street, one of the city's main thoroughfares. In 1990 much of the original interior woodwork in the dining room was restored by Jim Stacey. The Ann Arbor Historic District Commission presented the Home with a Preservation Award in 1989.


Article Keywords: Anna Botsford Bach Home, Houses, Italian Villa Architecture, Preservation Award, Retirement Homes, Robert MacKenzie House
People: Jim Stacey, Robert MacKenzie
Places: 1422 W Liberty St

Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held by: Photos used to illustrate Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan / by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg.

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Solomon and Jacob Armstrong Houses, 1843 & 1851


Solomon and Jacob Armstrong Houses, 1843 & 1851

1219 Traver Street

Solomon and Jacob Armstrong Houses, 1843 & 1851

Solomon Armstrong was born in 1821 in Ballston Spa, New York. He arrived in Ann Arbor in 1843 to work as a carpenter and millwright together with his father Jacob and his sons John and Frank A. Armstrong. Solomon's papers are now housed in the Bentley Library in Ann Arbor and include notebooks of his work on houses such as the Jonathan Lund house at 1324 Pontiac and the Kellogg Mill. Even his recipe for paint is included.

The house at 1219, probably built in 1851 when the Armstrongs purchased the two lots, represents the more common style of Greek Revival house with its simple rectangular massing and side gables with returns. The house at 1223 is an example of an unusual Greek Revival house from known as "hen and chicks." Said to be unique to southern Michigan, this house type has a tall central portion with a roof gable facing the street, flanked on either side by shorter wings giving the overall appearance of a mother hen sheltering her baby chicks. "Hen and chicks" houses were popular during the 1830s and 1840s, so this is probably the older of the two houses and may have been moved from Armstrong's original property down the road.

Armstrong sold 1219 in 1861 to Amos Corey, another carpenter. In the 1920s, 1219 passed into the hands of the Schlemmer family, who occupied it until the mid-1970s. The house at 1223 was occupied by the Hatch family for almost the identical period and then by Mrs. Adaline Barbiaux for several decades.

The houses have been featured in books on Ann Arbor's historic buildings, most recently in Ann Arbor Architecture, A Sesquicentennial Selection, published by the University of Michigan Museum of Art in 1974. Unaltered until recently, the two buildings form a unique grouping and present an idealized version of our rural and unhurried past.


Article Keywords: Greek Revival Architecture, Houses, Solomon and Jacob Armstrong House
People: Amos Corey, Jacob Armstrong, Solomon Armstrong
Places: 1219 Traver St

Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held by: Photos used to illustrate Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan / by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg.

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George Corselius House, late 1820s


George Corselius House, late 1820s

317 East Ann Street

George Corselius House, late 1820s

"Mother told me we lived in it in 1838, and boarded the engineers who were laying out the Michigan Central Railroad," Cornelia Corselius wrote of this simple dwelling in 1909. An early deed indicates that it was occupied by a Dr. Randall in 1834, but it may actually have been built by Sylvester or Willard Mills in 1829-30.

It may well be the oldest remaining home in Ann Arbor. Originally a typical "I-house," that is, with gables to the side, at least two rooms in length, one room deep, and two full stories in height (as defined in Folk Housing, by Fred B. Kniffen), the residence long ago became a square with an ell. The walls were built ten inches thick, and as late as 1937, the first floor joists were still bark covered. Professor Emil Lorch noted then that the triangular field of the end gables formerly had half elliptical make-believe fan lights. The pilastered casing of the entrance dates from 1938 when the house was remodeled.

What is known is that it was the home of pioneer journalist George Corselius, who arrived in 1829 to become editor of the Western Emigrant, the first newspaper in Washtenaw County. The Emigrant was owned by John Allen and Samuel W. Dexter, key figures in the early development of Washtenaw County and the Michigan Territory. While editor of the paper, Corselius joined other stockholders to start the county's first lending library, a shortlived enterprise.

Corselius married Clementia Cardell of Bennington, Vermont. An early Ann Arbor historian wrote that Corselius was descended from French barons and his wife from Norman kings, describing him as "an ungainly figure, but with a spiritual symmetry; a gentle and benevolent disposition." Later, frail in health and struggling in his profession, he was employed by the University of Michigan to catalogue its library. To better his fortune and to cure his tuberculosis, he joined the forty-niners, starting for California by the Panama route. He turned back at Panama, only to die at sea. Cornelia, the only one of his four children to remain in Ann Arbor, taught school for many years, and wrote a book of children's stories, some with local settings.


Article Keywords: George Corselius House, I-House Architecture
People: Clementia (Cardell) Corselius, George Corselius
Places: 317 E Ann St
Date: 1820

Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held by: Photos used to illustrate Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan / by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg.

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Willcoxson-Easton House, late 1820s


Willcoxson-Easton House, late 1820s

511 East Ann Street

Willcoxson-Easton House, late 1820s
This simple white clapboard house has several aspects commonly found in the Eastern U.S.: its orientation with the long side of the house facing the street, the symmetrical arrangement of windows around a center door, and the general massing.

Its exact age and origin cannot be documented since the house was moved to this location by 1866. It may be the house built by attorney Gideon Willcoxson who arrived in Ann Arbor in 1824 and purchased ten acres from John Allen ???_ what is now the area bounded by Huron, State, Catherine, and Division Streets. Willcoxson went back East but then returned to Ann Arbor in 1827 to practice law and accept an appointment as Washtenaw County Prosecuting Attorney from Governor Cass.

Willcoxson died three years later, leaving the property to fellow attorney George Jewett to administer for his children until they came of age. Jewett occupied the house for a number of years until the heirs ???_ John and James Willcoxson, Amelia Ormsby, Sarah Pease, and Mary Jane Maynard ???_sold the property to George Sedgewick who then sold it to Mary Jane's husband, John W. Maynard. Maynard platted and subdivided the property in 1858 and named this part of it Willcoxson's Addition. Dr. Ebenezer Wells and his wife Margaret purchased four of the lots to build their magnificent brick house on Division Street (see 30). The $1,700 Charles Easton paid for the lot (compared to the $325 price of the lot next door) hints that the house may have already been on the lot.

The low picket fence, designed and built by the current owners, and the small front garden of perennials, rose bushes, and peonies accentuate the simple lines and original six-over-six windows of the house. The rear addition may have been moved from a larger house of similar design that stood to the east until after 1900.

Widdicombe and Martha Schmidt purchased the house in 1975, and have restored much of it inside and out, using great care in replacing rotted siding with poplar and in preserving the original hand-blown glass of the windows.


Article Keywords: Clapboard Siding, Houses, Willcoxson Easton House
People: George Jewett, George Sedgewick, Gideon Wilcoxson, John W. Maynard, Martha Schmidt, Widdicombe Schmidt
Places: 511 E Ann St
Date: 1820

Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held by: Photos used to illustrate Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan / by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg.

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Anson Brown Building, 1832


Anson Brown Building, 1832

1001-1007 Broadway

Anson Brown Building, 1832

This building, the oldest surviving commercial structure in Ann Arbor, has a symmetrical front facade, and parapet end walls characteristic of eighteenth century Dutch-influenced buildings on the east coast. Hand-hewn timber framing of oak is visible in the attic.

Anson Brown had worked for seven years on the Erie Canal before he arrived with his fortune in Ann Arbor, where he became the principal landowner of Lower Town, north of the river. He wanted his business district to be the commercial center of a fine metropolis, and he named his streets Broadway, Wall, Maiden Lane after the major avenues of the Empire City of his native state. He erected as a merchandising center this building and two similar blocks (The Exchange Building and, across the street, the Ingalls Block, replaced in 1959 by a motel and restaurant). The Washtenaw Hotel nearby was one of the largest hotels on the route from Detroit to Chicago, a comfortable stop before crossing the Huron River. The new buildings were an attraction to trade, and Brown was successful in securing an appointment from the Territorial Governor to be postmaster of the town. His brief but intense rivalry with the "hilltoppers" for control of Ann Arbor's development ceased abruptly when Brown died in the cholera epidemic of 1834.

The upper town regained political dominance, the new University of Michigan drew development in that direction and the railroad came through on the south side of the river. Brown's building outlasted all the other commercial structures of his time and is the only survivor of the town he envisioned and partially built.

The well-maintained building, somewhat European in flavor, was owned by the Colvin family for more than sixty years until it changed hands in 1989.


Article Keywords: Anson Brown Building, Commercial Buildings, Lower Town
People: Anson Brown
Places: 1001-1007 Broadway St
Date: 1832

Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held by: Photos used to illustrate Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan / by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg.

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Josiah Beckley House, circa 1834


Josiah Beckley House, circa 1834

1709 Pontiac Trail

Josiah Beckley House, circa 1834

Josiah Beckley and his family were members of that intrepid group of early settlers who left New England for the Michigan Territory just after the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. Beckley arrived in Ann Arbor in 1827 with his wife Minerva, a son Luke and an infant Charles. In October of that year, he purchased 73 acres from Isaac Hull in what was then Ann Arbor Township. According to the family's history, the house was built either in 1834 or 1836, though it could be even older.

Josiah's large brick house has two stories and a classical center entry, and in form resembles a New England house. It has brick end chimneys and an elaborate doorway (not original) with no portico, which is probably how it originally looked. The current windows in the house were added in the 1980s. The black metal stars on the exterior signal the presence of tie rods ???_ iron rods that span the width of the building and help hold it together.

It is not surprising that Beckley built his house of brick, for an 1835 newspaper advertisement indicates he was in the brick business: "Brick! Brick!! Brick!!! Brown and Co. having made an arrangement with Josiah Beckley for brick we are prepared to supply their customers and all others who may wish, with any quantity of the article on reasonable terms. (Signed) Ann Arbor, (on the Huron), April 20, 1835."

Josiah Beckley died in September of 1843 at the age of 53. His wife Minerva and their children continued to live in the house for a few more years but it appears that the house had to be sold to pay Josiah's debts. In 1847 Warren Millard purchased the house and his descendants lived there for almost 100 years.

Today the house remains on its large lot, surrounded by mature trees and looking almost as it did when Ann Arbor was just emerging from the wilderness of the early Michigan Territory.


Article Keywords: Houses, Josiah Beckley House
People: Charles Beckley, Josiah Beckley, Luke Beckley, Minerva Beckley, Warren Millard
Places: 1709 Pontiac Trail
Date: 1834

Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held by: Photos used to illustrate Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan / by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg.

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Washtenaw Bank, 1836


Washtenaw Bank, 1836

201-205 East Ann Street

Washtenaw Bank, 1836

In the 1830s, with land sales booming the Michigan Territory needed banks. The liberal banking laws permitted banks to be founded with very little capital, so in 1835 a group of local men formed the Bank of Washtenaw and built this Greek Revival building to house their banking rooms. When the banking system of the United States collapsed in the Panic of 1837, the Bank of Washtenaw went under and the building stood empty for almost a decade. In 1847 the property was finally sold to local businessman Volney Chapin who converted it to a residence. He and his wife Chloe made it their home for over 25 years. During that time it became a genteel showplace surrounded by exotic catalpa trees and a garden whose rose-bordered paths reached all the way to Catherine Street.

The original building is stucco over brick, scored to resemble stone, a common conceit of many Greek Revival houses of this period. Though it has been enlarged to the west, one can still spot the Greek Revival detailing in the Ann Street entryway with simple Doric columns supporting a dentillated entablature. Hinges for the once massive shutters which flanked the windows are still visible as well.

By the 1890s the area had become more commercial. The house became the Arlington Hotel, later renamed the Catalpa Hotel after those famous trees. Joe Parker's tavern occupied the corner commercial space from 1913 until 1920, when Prohibition drove it out of business. Joe Parker's and other saloons have been immortalized in a University of Michigan college song that reminisces about going "back to Joe's and the Orient (another saloon) back to all the money I spent." Shortly after the tavern closed, the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce bought the building, but one can still see the name "Joe" spelled out in tile in the corner of the present bookstore.

The Chamber eventually sold the property to Christ Bilakos in 1942. He renamed it the Peters Hotel after his son and the property is still owned by this family. The building now houses a variety of eclectic businesses.


Article Keywords: Arlington House Hotel, Bank of Washtenaw, Banks & Banking, Catalpa Hotel, Commercial Buildings, Greek Revival Architecture, Jo Parker's Tavern, Peters Hotel
People: Chloe Chapin, Christ Bilakos, Volney Chapin
Places: 201-205 E Ann St
Date: 1836

Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held by: Photos used to illustrate Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan / by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg.

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