Local History Photos

Jonathan Lund House, 1847


Jonathan Lund House, 1847

1324 Pontiac Trail

Jonathan Lund House, 1847
Creator: Davidson, Robert; and Davidson, John

Ten years after Jonathan Lund and his wife arrived in Ann Arbor in 1837 they built this large and gracious Greek Revival house with its sweeping view of the Huron River valley. A matter of interest at the time and to historians since is the fact that the stucco was mixed with barrels and barrels of skim milk to give it a particularly adhesive quality. The builders, Robert and John Davidson, finished in time for the Lunds to celebrate Thanksgiving in their new home.

The fine details and fixtures of the house aroused envy and exaggeration in the village. Known as "The Place" during the years when the Lunds were famed for hospitality, the house was surrounded by gardens and groves. White pillars at the street marked the entrance to the drive. Peacocks strutted on the lawn; turkeys and Spanish chickens scratched among the bushes. Family letters tell of an excess of cream, eggs, and strawberries which were sent into the village for sale.

Lund was a man of many enterprises. He built the first paper mill on the river in Lower Town, manufacturing papers for books and tobacco, as well as colored and wrapping papers, which were sold in Chicago and beyond. In the 1850s Volney and Charles Chapin, father and son, bought into the firm and another mill was constructed at Geddesburg, a small town on the Huron River east of Ann Arbor. The partnership was a happy and prosperous one until ill health forced Lund to sell in 1858. Lund's office was an attractive little building with classic columns which stood for many years at the northwest approach to the old Broadway bridge.

After Lund's death the house passed through a number of hands and in the 1890s the Weeks family purchased it. Weeks wrote that he so much appreciated the plantings and flowers that one fine Decoration Day he filled his carriage with flowers and placed them upon the Lund graves.

In 1908 young Fremont Ward came to Ann Arbor to supervise the construction of the Main Street Post Office. He and his wife Flora spied the house on an evening's walk, admired it, bought it, and settled in Ann Arbor, remaining in the house for nearly half a century. Early in the 1930s they divided the home into apartments without affecting the outside appearance. In 1936, in one of the apartments, University student Arthur Miller regaled an election night faculty party with humorous readings from some of his recent "finger exercises."

Keywords: Greek, Houses


Places: 1324 Pontiac Trail
Date: 1847

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.


Silas Douglass House, 1848


Silas Douglass House, 1848

502 East Huron Street

Silas Douglass House, 1848
Creator: Marshall, Arthur

The Silas Douglass home is the first in Ann Arbor to be designed by an architect, Arthur Marshall. Begun in 1848, it is a splendid example of Gothic Revival residential architecture, with steeply sloped roofs, gingerbread carving under the eaves, stucco walls scored to resemble masonry, and the use of Gothic motifs such as quatrefoils and trefoils. The east wing was added in 1855, the west wing in 1856, and a bay window, gas piping and marble mantel in 1858. They added a well and cellar in 1863 and the dining room bay window in 1864. The water for the bathroom came from a six barrel tank anchored in the attic and filled with rain water. A small picturesque porch along the east front and a picket fence were removed years ago after they fell into disrepair.

Douglass, a brilliant and energetic man, came from Chautauqua, New York, to study medicine with Drs. Rice and Pitcher of Detroit. In 1844, he joined the University of Michigan faculty as professor of chemistry, where he was a leader in establishing Michigan's pioneer chemical laboratory and library. Twice mayor of Ann Arbor, dean of the University's medical faculty, head of the chemical laboratory, Douglass led a full and varied life and was often at the center of controversy. In his spare time he supervised the construction of the University water mains, a classroom building, and the Observatory. "Believing the city to have groped in darkness long enough," Douglass urged the founding in 1858 of the Ann Arbor Gas Company. While mayor in 1871-72, he reorganized the city's tiny police force and introduced a licensing system to regulate liquor traffic.

Helen and Silas Douglass raised their seven children and lived out their lives in this house. In 1902 the local Baptist Guild acquired the property for student activities. A few years later it was turned over to the Baptist Church, where it has been used as church offices and housing for the sexton. The Ann Arbor Observer had its birth in this house when Don and Mary Hunt were serving as sextons of the church. The Douglass estate is now filled in with church structures and a parking area, but one can still imagine the fine old trees and extensive garden beds that once were there.

Keywords: Gothic Revival, houses


Places: 502 East Huron Street
Date: 1848

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.


J.D. Baldwin House, 1848


J.D. Baldwin House, 1848

1530 Hill Street

J.D. Baldwin House, 1848
J.D. Baldwin came to Ann Arbor in 1847 from Detroit, where he had been engaged in the hardware and leather trade. He purchased 154 acres outside the city and built this unique brick villa, a Greek Revival house with a nearly flat roof rather than the more familiar slope-roofed temple form. It was covered with salmon colored stucco and was known as "the pink house with the blue-green blinds," a landmark on the old middle Ypsilanti Road which later became Washtenaw Avenue.

Baldwin made his land into a profitable fruit and berry farm. An active member of the Washtenaw Agricultural Society and a leader in the Washtenaw Pomological Society, he was often called upon to speak as an authority on the culture of peaches, strawberries, and the apples for which he was best known.

In 1876 he sold the home and 78 acres to Olivia and Israel Hall, who later subdivided their acreage, and with great foresight, placed restrictions on the property, including the 60 foot setback, which give Washtenaw Avenue some of its grace and character. The Halls' son Louis and his bride Elizabeth moved into the house in 1885. Mrs. Hall lost no time in changing the color of the stucco. Fireplaces replaced the original stoves and the sloped-roof porches were added for family comfort.

Louis Hall studied dentistry at the University of Michigan and became a prominent member of the Dental School faculty. His daughter, Mrs. J. R. Hayden, resided in the family home until her death in the 1980s.

In the late 1980s, a new owner thoroughly remodeled the interior and restored the exterior of this fascinating home.

Keywords: Houses, Greek Revival


Places: 1530 Hill Street
Date: 1848

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.


Thomas and Margaret Mitchell House, (Gregory House) 1848


Thomas and Margaret Mitchell House, (Gregory House) 1848

602 Lawrence Street

Thomas and Margaret Mitchell House, (Gregory House) 1848

Nestled amidst some of Ann Arbor's finest landmark oak trees, this structure was part of a group of stucco-over-brick houses built in this part of town in the 1840s (see Judge Robert S. Wilson House and Newton A. Prudden House). An unusual feature of this particular house is that the brick is adobe, an unlikely building material for our cold, wet climate. A few adobes exist in Washtenaw County, most notably those built by Stephen Mills, but only one other adobe is known to exist in Ann Arbor (see Newton A. Prudden House). It is thus a rare structure within the local Greek Revival architectural tradition.

After Henry Bower platted the east end of the block in 1844, naming the street "Bowery," Thomas and Margaret Mitchell purchased this lot in 1848. They probably built the gable-front structure with its triangular window and dentils under the eaves that same year. The Mitchells passed the house on to their daughter and her husband, Hubbell Gregory, who had come to Ann Arbor from New York in 1853. The house remained in the Gregory family until the death of their daughter, Jennie Gregory, in 1914.

Following Jennie's death, Horace Prettyman and his wife made their home here. They bought a small parcel to the west of the house and added the porte cochere. They also "bungalowed" the house in the then-current style by rounding off the corners of the window trim and adding porches with tapering pylon-like columns. Prettyman was a successful businessman who owned the White Swan Laundry and the Ann Arbor Press. He lived here until around 1945 after which Abbie Schaefer ran it as a rooming house called Abby House.

In 1961 the house was sold to the Intercooperative Council (ICC), the organization of University of Michigan student co-ops. They renamed the house Vail Co-op to honor their former President, Stephen Vail (Stephanos Valavanis). In 1991 Vail House became the only all-female co-op in the ICC system. Co-opers are proud of their historically significant house and have recently repainted it after extensive repairs to the stucco.

Keywords: Greek Revival adobe, houses


Places: 602 Lawrence Street
Date: 1848

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.


Asahel Parkhurst House, circa 1848


Asahel Parkhurst House, circa 1848

412 East Huron Street

Asahel Parkhurst House, circa 1848

This side-entry, New England style, clapboard house was probably constructed around 1848, shortly after Asahel Parkhurst purchased the land on which it is built. In 1850 he sold it to Martha Seeley and she in turn sold it to the Wilmots who sold it to Tracy Root in 1855. The Root family occupied it for over half a century, adding the Italianate double brackets under the eaves as well as a large, two-story addition on the east which was removed after the turn of the century.

Tracy Root was the son of early Ann Arbor pioneer Erastus Root, who came to Ann Arbor from the East in 1832 and operated a dry goods store for a number of years. Tracy grew up on Spring Street, became a lawyer, and practiced for many years in his home on West Huron Street. He was also Washtenaw County Clerk in 1862 and Circuit Court Commissioner in 1872. Root was one of many professionals, including lawyers, doctors, and University of Michigan professors, who made their homes along then-fashionable Huron Street. When the advent of the automobile made living on the outskirts of the city more attractive, many of these houses were demolished for gas stations and parking lots. Root's house and two others on this block are our only remnants of the gentility of this thoroughfare in the 19th century.

One reason this house survived was that it had thoughtful owners throughout the 20th century. One who cared for the house throughout the 1950s and 60s even maintained the illusion of a center window on the second story using shutters, which unfortunately were removed in a later renovation.

Except for the porch and the pairs of brackets under the eaves which would indicate an 1860s date, the house probably looks now as it did when it was constructed. Its century of service as a residential property ended, however, when it was converted to office use in the 1980s. It is now owned by the Suburban Communication Corporation.

Keywords: clapboard siding, houses


Places: 412 East Huron Street
Date: 1848

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.


William W. Wines House, (Dean House) circa 1848


William W. Wines House, (Dean House) circa 1848

120 Packard Road

William W. Wines House, (Dean House) circa 1848

William Wallace Wines and his brother Daniel E. Wines, natives of Connecticut, married two sisters and took them West, to the new frontier of the Michigan Territory. Daniel arrived in Washtenaw County in 1837 followed by William in 1841 and together they operated a lumber mill in Ypsilanti. William moved to Ann Arbor in 1848 and built this charming vernacular cottage, reminiscent of houses common "back East." Daniel came to Ann Arbor two years later and built himself a house next door at 126 Packard. He then entered the sash, door and blind business, and became a contractor and builder while his brother William co-founded a clothing business known as Wines and Worden.

Biographies of Daniel stress his importance as an early local builder, ranging from comments that he "has erected many of the best business houses and private residences in Ann Arbor" to Fiske Kimball's comment that "two fine old residences out Washtenaw Avenue, built by Daniel Wines" were "much appreciated by their owners of the faculty" and were "masonry covered with warm stucco."

This house, which may have been built by Daniel for his brother William, is a simple clapboard structure with a center entry and its long side facing the street -- features common in New England. It is probably an I-house, a folk form two stories high and one room deep, though it has quite a large addition on the rear which may be original to the house. The scallop edging is an unusual touch -- perhaps new designs made possible by machinery just beginning to make its appearance, perhaps a later embellishment. Old-fashioned construction details include brick nogging found in the walls, a primitive form of insulation, and wooden pegs for the framing.

The house was purchased by another pioneer, Nelson Strong, in the early 1870s after William built himself a grand brick Italianate house on the corner of Packard and Main Streets. (It was demolished in the 1960s and is now the site of Baker Commons). Shortly thereafter, Strong sold it to his son-in-law Sedgewick Dean. Dean ran a grocery store on Main Street, but the family's name has been perpetuated by his daughter Elizabeth, who willed the City of Ann Arbor over a million dollars in 1964 for the special care of the city's trees. The Elizabeth Dean Fund perpetuates the memory of this fine lady who astonished the town with her generous bequest.

Elizabeth Dean had left this house long before she died, but her earliest years were spent here. A scene from her daily life is revealed in the diary of visiting nurse Emily Hollister, who wrote in July of 1890: "I come to Mr. Sedwick (sic) Dean's place to nurse Mrs. Stebbins' (Elizabeth's aunt) daughter Emily who is sick with typhoid fever. She is a lovely girl -- The family is very pleasant. Clara Dean is 14 years old -- very interesting. Miss Elizabeth is 5 years old. Her mother has been dead for 5 years and Mrs. Stebbins has been with the family. Mrs. Stebbins is a daughter of Dr. Strong."

Elizabeth eventually sold the house after World War I to Reverend E. C. Stellhorn, a Lutheran minister. Stellhorn altered the interior considerably and probably changed the window to the right of the doorway so he and his wife could enjoy a more modern lifestyle. They occupied this house for almost half a century. After their deaths, the house was purchased by Donald Van Curler, a local architect and developer. He had originally intended to demolish the house and build an apartment building, but was so enchanted when he toured the interior and noted the high ceilings, chandeliers, and marble washstands, that he changed his mind and moved in instead!

Keywords: clapboard siding, houses


Places: 120 Packard Road
Date: 1848

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.


J. D. Baldwin House, 1848


J. D. Baldwin House, 1848

1530 Hill Street

J. D. Baldwin House, 1848

J.D. Baldwin came to Ann Arbor in 1847 from Detroit, where he had been engaged in the hardware and leather trade. He purchased 154 acres outside the city and built this unique brick villa, a Greek Revival house with a nearly flat roof rather than the more familiar slope-roofed temple form. It was covered with salmon colored stucco and was known as "the pink house with the blue-green blinds," a landmark on the old middle Ypsilanti Road which later became Washtenaw Avenue.

Baldwin made his land into a profitable fruit and berry farm. An active member of the Washtenaw Agriculture Society and a leader in the Washtenaw Pomological Society, he was often called upon to speak as an authority on the culture of peaches, strawberries, and the apples for which he was best known.

In the 1876 he sold the home and 78 acres to Olivia and Israel Hall, who later subdivided their acreage, and with great foresight, placed the restrictions on the property, including the 60 foot setback, which give Washtenaw Avenue some of its grace and character. The Halls' son Louis and his bride Elizabeth moved into the house in 1885. Mrs. Hall lost no time in changing the color of the stucco. Fireplaces replaced the original stoves and the sloped-roof porches were added for family comfort.

Louis Hall studied dentistry at the University of Michigan and was soon a prominent member of the Dental School faculty. Their daughter, Mrs. J. R. Hayden, resided in the family home until her death in the 1980s.

In the late 1980s, a new owner thoroughly remodeled the interior and restored the exterior of this fascinating home.

Keywords: Italianate, Houses


Places: 1530 Hill Street
Date: 1848

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.


Albert Polhemus House, 1848


Albert Polhemus House, 1848

411-413 East Washington Street

Albert Polhemus House, 1848

This well-built Greek Revival house has a characteristic classic entry with sidelights. The elegantly restrained porches are later additions. The house was built in 1848 for Albert and Leah Polhemus and their family of six, who had come to Ann Arbor from the state of New York.

The Reverend Maltby Gelston, Jr. family moved into the house in 1861. Mr. Gelston and his brother, Mills B. Gelston, were "supply" ministers for small churches in lower Michigan. Maltby's son, Joseph Mills Gelston, was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor from 1888 to 1909. After Maltby Gelston's death in 1893, his daughter Sarah converted the house into apartments, which at the time were reserved for single or widowed ladies. It has now been converted into offices.

Keywords: Greek Revival, houses


Places: 411-413 East Washington Street
Date: 1848

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.


William and Katherine Kuhn House, Circa 1850


William and Katherine Kuhn House, Circa 1850

626 West Liberty Street

William and Katherine Kuhn House, Circa 1850

This tiny "cabin" appears to have been built around 1850 by William and Katherine Kuhn. It is an example of the very simple, small dwellings constructed by Ann Arbor's working class in the mid-19th century. Its only hints at style are the Greek Revival returns on the side gables. The original clapboard and multipaned windows also hint at an early date of construction.

The house is first mentioned specifically in William Kuhn's will: when he died in 1879, he bequeathed a "dwelling house" and the land to his wife and their eight children. The fact that a family of ten might have lived in what was essentially a one-room house with a sleeping loft, makes one ponder the privations suffered by the average family in this era.

The house had long been recognized as charming???_ both by academics who included it in a 1974 Sesquicentennial publication entitled Ann Arbor Architecture, and by neighbors who remembered Mrs. Hattie Holter, occupant from around 1950 to 1980, who kept the place in immaculate condition. This is why, when demolition was proposed in 1985, citizens in the neighborhood were so concerned. During public hearings, many spoke in favor of saving the house, despite its small size. The Ann Arbor Historic District Commission tabled action on the demolition request, and at last a rescuer came forward. Douglas Trubey, a lifelong resident of Ann Arbor who had already renovated an abandoned house in Scio Township, purchased the house.

Describing it as a "house that fell out of time," Trubey built a two story carriage house in the rear for storage and immediately began renovating the house. In 1989, the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission gave him a restoration award by for his efforts. Trubey proved the impossible ???_ that someone could and would live in this "cabin" and make it look like a home again.

Keywords: houses, cabins


Places: 626 West Liberty Street
Date: 1850

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.


Eunice Baldwin House, 1850


Eunice Baldwin House, 1850

1500 Dexter Avenue

Eunice Baldwin House, 1850

This small Greek Revival house shows its original 12 by 12 timbers and stone walls in the basement. Some fifty years ago, when it still had its original narrow clapboards, its pleasing appearance won the attention of the Historic American Building Survey. Drawings and photographs in the Library of Congress show the Baldwin House as it looked then. Its position at the "Forks" and its eye-catching proportions make it an Ann Arbor landmark.

The house was probably built by carpenter and builder Norman B. Covert for Eunice Baldwin, the mother of his new bride, on an eighty-acre piece of farmland. Their two properties were separated by a road which has now become Revena Boulevard.

When Mrs. Baldwin died in 1868, she left her house and land to her two daughters, Nancy Baldwin and Lucy A. Covert. In 1887, Andrew Heimerdinger acquired the property. The original eighty acres has long since been divided into residential lots, but this small farm house was owned by a fourth generation Heimerdinger until quite recently.

Keywords: Greek Revival clapboard siding, houses


Places: 1500 Dexter Avenue
Date: 1850

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.