Local History Photos

Davis Block-Agricultural Hall, 1856


Davis Block-Agricultural Hall, 1856

201 Catherine Street

Davis Block-Agricultural Hall, 1856
Creator: Davis, Greenman

"The excavation is being made at the junction of Detroit and Fourth Streets preparatory to the erection of a fine brick block to be used as an agricultural implements warehouse. It will be a fine improvement." This small announcement appeared in the September 19, 1856 Michigan Gazeteer. The undertaking must have been too much for the builders, Davis and Greenman, as they dissolved their partnership a year later. Three years later, in March of 1860, the Michigan Argus noted: "Moses Rogers has sold out on Washington Street and purchased the Davis Block and will soon have an extensive agricultural implement manufactory in his new quarters."

Rogers arrived in Ann Arbor from New York State in 1831 and operated agricultural implement factories from several locations prior to this purchase. While he owned the Davis Block, Rogers was also instrumental in establishing the Soldiers' Aid Society for Civil War Relief. As one local historian noted "...The Society sponsored a continuous flow of socials and contests, both as money-making projects to finance their work and as a means of bolstering the morale of the home folk.... Moses Rogers repeatedly gave the use of his large hall." In the spring of 1865, a "glorious" party was planned for the celebration of the end of the war, at which Miss Flora Jewett would be crowned May Queen. "Though the war had ended... the pageant was held... with grief mixed with joy due to the assassination of President Lincoln."

Rogers sold this building to John Finnegan in 1867 and bought the building at 417 Detroit Street which now houses the Ecology Center. From then on, the Davis Block was commonly referred to as Agricultural Hall. Dealing in agricultural implements and seeds, Finnegan's establishment carried "...the latest and most approved styles of agricultural machinery, mowers, reapers and binders, of which the men of fifty years ago knew nothing."

Finnegan operated this business until around 1892 when he sold the building to the Hay and Todd Manufacturing Company of Ypsilanti. This was their Mill No. 2, specializing in underwear. In the 1920s Horace Prettyman bought it for his White Swan Laundry. That name for the building persisted even after the University of Michigan purchased it in the 1950s. Today the unadorned straightforward brick structure is the second oldest commercial building in the city. Along with the Anson Brown Building on Broadway, it is the only commercial building remaining from the era before the Civil War and before the Italianate style began to dominate commercial architecture. Its rectangular, rather than round-topped, windows are one of the clues to its age.

The building was extensively rehabilitated in 1988 by Michael Vlasic and a post-modern addition, designed by Frederick H. Herrmann Associates Inc., was added and designed to complement the older structure. The Davis Block now serves as the home of the Ann Arbor Observer and other professional offices.


Article Keywords: Ann Arbor Observer, Commercial Buildings, Davis Block - Agricultural Hall, Frederick H. Herrmann Associates Inc., Hay and Todd Manufacturing Company, Office Buildings, White Swan Laundry
People: John Finnegan, Michael Vlasic, Moses Rogers
Places: 201 Catherine St
Date: 1856

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.


Methodist Episcopal Parsonage, 1858


Methodist Episcopal Parsonage, 1858

332 East Washington Street

Methodist Episcopal Parsonage, 1858

This former Methodist Episcopal parsonage is architecturally significant as one of a small number of well preserved Greek Revival homes remaining in downtown Ann Arbor. Its unusual exterior detailing is indicative of its late date and suggestive of the general transformation in architectural taste from classical to picturesque that was taking place in the 1850s.

A two-story, front-gable clapboard structure with a one-and-a half story rear wing, distinctive details include the entry with sidelights and transom, the triangular window in the gable, and the full entablature decorated with dentils. The building's late date within the Greek Revival idiom is most evident in the scalloped trim on the front eaves.

The house also possesses local historical importance in having been constructed to house the Reverend Seth Reed, one of the leading lights of Methodism in Michigan in the 19th century. Reverend Reed was admitted to the Michigan Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1844 and served as pastor of various churches in southeast Michigan. In 1857 he was appointed to serve the Ann Arbor congregation, established in 1827. During his short but successful pastorate (1857-59), the church, a large frame building on the southeast corner of Ann Street and Fifth Avenue, was enlarged and modernized and the Washington Street parsonage constructed. The house seems to have served its original purpose until about 1881.

The next owner was English immigrant William Allaby, a shoe merchant, who purchased the property in 1882 and lived there until his death in 1910. Albert M. Graves acquired the property in 1924 and the following year established Grave's Garage at the rear of the site. Graves died in 1927 but Mrs. Graves continued to live there until her death in 1962, dividing the house into apartments in 1957.

Mr. Peter Heydon restored the building in 1980, and rehabilitated its interior for office and residential use. A year later, the Historical Society of Michigan honored Mr. Heydon for his efforts.


Article Keywords: Apartments, Clapboard Siding, Greek Revival Architecture, Houses, Parsonages
People: Albert M. Graves, Peter Heydon, Seth Reed, William Allaby
Places: 332 E Washington St
Date: 1858

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.


Harvey Bannister House, 1858


Harvey Bannister House, 1858

903 East Huron Street

Harvey Bannister House, 1858

This simple brick house, with a pediment suggested only by its roof-pitch and cornice returns, is typical of the late Greek Revival houses built in Ann Arbor just before the Civil War. The building was constructed by local mason Harvey Bannister, who built it as a rooming house for University of Michigan students.

Until 1852 students lived in the University dormitories. That year they were notified by newly appointed President Henry Philip Tappan that they would have to find lodging and board within the community since their former living quarters were needed for classroom space. Howard H. Peckham noted in his history of the University of Michigan, Tappan "no doubt was aware that his friend President Wayland of Brown [University"> blamed dormitories for most of the evils of college life: temptations to vice from evil student leaders, the costs of building that should go into libraries and laboratories, danger of epidemics from contagious diseases, and imposition on the college of responsibilities it could not carry out effectively." Tappan also wanted to end the institutional isolation of students and make them community citizens. His new policy set off a building frenzy in many areas near the university, particularly in the area just north of the campus.

Bannister's is one of many boarding houses that sprang up in this area, historically the city's Fourth Ward. It continued to be a boarding house throughout the 19th and into the 20th centuries. In the mid-1920s, it was purchased by Catherine Meier who, with her daughter Joy Meier, occupied it as a family residence for over 50 years. In the 1970s it became an owner-occupied duplex, and in the late 1980s it again became rental apartments. Its classical proportions and details have been carefully maintained through all these years and it still retains its original six-over-six windows.


Article Keywords: Greek Revival Architecture, Harvey Bannister House, Houses, Rooming Houses
People: Catherine Meier, Harvey Bannister, Joy Meier
Places: 903 E Huron St
Date: 1858

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 Ready House, 1858


Thomas Ready House, 1858

206 North Thayer

Thomas Ready House, 1858

When Thomas Ready constructed this Greek Revival cottage in the late 1850s, its only neighbor was the former Ellsworth Boarding house up the street at the southeast corner of Catherine and Thayer Streets. Both were built after the University of Michigan decreed that students could no longer live on campus. President Tappan's edict in 1852 prompted a mad scramble by local citizens to accommodate the new demand for housing (see Harvey Bannister House). This overlapped with the expansion of the Irish community into this neighborhood.

The chain of title for this property reveals an almost unbroken string of Irish names, from Ready to Timothy Keating, James Evans, and Patrick O'Hearn. O'Hearn purchased the property in 1885 and his family owned it for the next 70 years. In 1888 O'Hearn built another house on the north half of this property (see Patrick O'Hearn House) which he used as a rental and never lived in himself.

Simple in shape and style, the main attraction of this clapboard house is its beautiful, intact Italianate porch with the filigree scroll work and thin chamfered columns typical of the style. Also characteristic is the absence of any porch railing. The house is an excellent example of vernacular architecture in Ann Arbor.

The current owners have taken meticulous care of their home and were given a preservation award in 1989 by the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission. They too are of Irish descent, though not related to the earlier owners.


Article Keywords: Clapboard Siding, Greek Revival Architecture, Houses, Italianate Architecture, Preservation Award
People: James Evans, Patrick O'Hearn, Thomas Ready, Timothy Keating
Places: 206 N Thayer
Date: 1858

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.


Enoch and Keziah Terhune House, 1858


Enoch and Keziah Terhune House, 1858

406 North State Street

Enoch and Keziah Terhune House, 1858

This house shows the transition in architectural styles between the Greek Revival and the Italianate. In plan, massing, and square shape, the house resembles an "Italianate cube." Its central entry/center hall construction, engaged corner columns, wide architrave, and rectangular six-over-six windows (some still with original glass) all point, however, to a Greek Revival sensibility.

It was built by Enoch Terhune, whose wife Keziah purchased the property in 1858. Terhune was the son of pioneers from Seneca County, New York who had settled in Pittsfield Township in 1831 when Enoch was 14. He was educated in Washtenaw County and became a builder and contractor in Ann Arbor in 1842. In 1846 he branched out into agricultural implements and owned a "sash and blinds" factory on Detroit Street. The 1881 History of Washtenaw County states that Terhune was the first to bring planing machinery to Ann Arbor, "thereby calling down on his head the wrath of numerous workmen who thought this would spoil their business." After his first wife died in 1857, he married Keziah with whom he had one child. Terhune's grandfather, an ensign in the Revolutionary War, is buried in the tiny Terhune Cemetery in Terhune Park owned by the City of Ann Arbor and maintained by the Pittsfield Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

After the turn of the century the Terhune property passed into the hands of grocer Jay Herrick of Herrick and Bohnet. Mrs. Herrick was an active suffragist, as indicated by a program of the Ann Arbor Equal Suffrage Club from 1911 which lists a meeting at this house.

The house was converted into apartments in the 1950s.


Article Keywords: Apartments, Enoch and Kenziah Terhune House, Greek Revival Architecture, Houses, Italianate Architecture
People: Enoch Terhune, Jay Herrick, Keziah Terhune
Places: 406 N State St
Date: 1858

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.


John M. Wheeler House, 1859


John M. Wheeler House, 1859

1020 West Huron Street

John M. Wheeler House, 1859

When local historian and school teacher Lela Duff first encountered this house, it piqued her curiosity because it was so different from the others in the area. She noted that it seemed "closed and aloof" with its gray paint, sharply pointed gables, and fancy mill work around the eaves, reminding her of Nathaniel Hawthorne's House of Seven Gables. People remembered its grounds surrounded by a low picket fence with a deep wooded ravine at the back and a mysterious Dutch windmill. (In the late 1930s the West Side Women's Club voted to restore this windmill but, for reasons unknown, never did so.) By the time Duff wrote an article about the house for The Ann Arbor News in 1960, the house was "teeming with apartments" and had lost its fence and windmill. A bulldozer was working nearby, busy subdividing the grounds.

The house was probably built in 1859 for attorney John M. Wheeler. Noted architectural historian Fiske Kimball believed the house was designed by Gordon W. Lloyd, well known Gothic Revival architect in Michigan. Wheeler was admitted to the bar in Indiana in 1843 and practiced there for 15 years before settling in Ann Arbor. After retiring from his legal practice, he became Treasurer of the Univesity of Michigan in 1872.

The house was once a fine example of Gothic Revival, a style rare in Ann Arbor. It is often compared with the Douglass House, as both houses are stucco over brick. Early photographs show the elaborate porch entry with its Gothic clustered columns and quatrefoil balustrade, features which appeared on the former porte cochere. These distinctive Gothic style details were unfortunately destroyed in the 20th century. Hints of the former grandeur still remain, however, in the ornamental "gingerbread" or barge boards under the eaves.


Article Keywords: Gothic Revival Architecture, Houses, John M. Wheeler House
People: Gordon W. Lloyd, John M. Wheeler
Places: 1020 W Huron St
Date: 1859

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.


Gaskell-Beakes House 1838, 1859


Gaskell-Beakes House 1838, 1859

415 South Fifth Avenue

Gaskell-Beakes House- 1838, 1859

Probably built by Clayton Gaskell around 1838, this house then passed through inheritance to the Beakes family who enlarged it in 1859. With its pedimented gable-front orientation, attic lunette, elaborate cornice, pilasters and classical entry, the house resembles many Greek Revival houses in upstate New York.

The house was the residence for two Ann Arbor mayors: Hiram Beakes, mayor from 1873-75, and Samuel Beakes, mayor from 1888-1890. Hiram lived in the house from 1860 until the late 1880s and also served as Probate Judge of Washtenaw County in the 1870s. His daughter Annie Beakes married Samuel Beakes (no relation).

It is Samuel Beakes after whom Beakes Street is named and it is he who authored the voluminous history of Washtenaw County in 1906 known as Past and Present of Washtenaw County. Samuel Beakes was also a major figure in local politics as chair of the county Democratic party, city treasurer, and editor of the Ann Arbor Argus, a local newspaper with a Democratic orientation.

In 1909 local historian Cornelia Corselius wrote of the house: "Mrs. Hiram Beakes spent over sixty years under that roof as maiden, wife and widow. It has been modified and modernized, but the low, spacious rooms are still charming and old fashioned. A spirit of kindly hospitality always pervaded this home as Mrs. Beakes enjoyed having her friends around her."

Although the house underwent considerable interior alteration in the 1920s when it was converted to apartments, its exterior remains largely intact. An addition on the south elevation includes a bracketed Italianate bay window. In 1936 it was photographed and studied as a candidate for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) by Emil Lorch, former Director of the University of Michigan College of Architecture.


Article Keywords: Apartments, Gaskell - Beakes House, Greek Revival Architecture, Houses
People: Clayton Gaskell, Hiram Beakes, Samuel Beakes
Places: 415 S Fifth Ave
Date: 1859

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.


Henry Simmons Frieze House, 1860


Henry Simmons Frieze House, 1860

1547 Washtenaw Avenue

Henry Simmons Frieze House, 1860

When Professor and Mrs. Henry Frieze located their country estate east of town on the main Ypsilanti Road, across from the J. D. Baldwin farm, they acquired seven acres with a fine stand of trees. Skilled stone masons from Guelph, Ontario, worked on the house, which features the soft colors and solid textures of locally cut stone. It is unique in the Ann Arbor area since few houses designed in the Italianate mode are articulated in such fine masonry work. The cornices, balconies and porch add elegance, charm, and a dramatic play of shadows to the stately residence. The generously sized rooms with eleven foot ceilings are finished with walnut and butternut woodwork. The landscaping is characteristic of the man for whom the house was built, for Frieze was devoted to nature and art and gave the turf, trees and rose hedges his personal attention.

When Frieze, a Professor of Latin at the University of Michigan, became acting president of the University in 1869, he sold the estate to "Deacon" Augustus Scott, a wealthy and retired gentleman from Toledo, who for almost thirty years made it the center of Ann Arbor social life. Scott added the cupola.

In 1898 the Frieze house was purchased by Horace L. Wilgus, professor of law. The Wilgus daughter married geography professor Stanley D. Dodge and they lived in the house, keeping it in the family until the William G. Shepherd family acquired the home in 1969. The Shepherds restored the slate roof and were active in a local group organized to protect and preserve the character of the Hill-Washtenaw area until they left Ann Arbor in the 1980s.

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Article Keywords: Houses, Italianate Architecture
People: Anna Brownell Roffee Frieze, Augustus Scott, Henry Simmons Frieze, Horace L. Wilgus, Stanley D. Dodge, William G. Shepherd
Places: 1547 Washtenaw Ave
Date: 1860

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 Earl House, 1860


Thomas Earl House, 1860

415 North Main Street

Thomas Earl House, 1860

Thomas Earl, born in Ireland in 1810, emigrated to Ann Arbor in 1833. He immediately purchased 200 acres of land in Northfield Township, and in a few months he married Mary Duncan. An ambitious man, he rapidly accumulated a fortune and began to take an active part in the political life of the township. In 1849, saddened by the death of their young daughter, the Earls moved to Ann Arbor and opened a grocery store. They lived above the store until 1857 when they purchased two lots at this location, building this house on one and planting his orchard on the other. Earl served for some time as Alderman in Ann Arbor. Mary Earl survived her husband by many years, living to be a very old woman and providing her own subsistence by raising fowl and keeping a good garden. It is said that she sheltered her geese on the third floor of the house. At her death in 1899, she bequeathed the house to St. Thomas Catholic Church.

The quality of the classic details in this Greek Revival house make it quite distinctive. Many of the six-over-six double hung windows still retain their old glass panes. The bricks of an unusually small size reputed to have been made in Ann Arbor at the time, are very evenly laid, demonstrating the mason's skill. The front porch was added about 1908. The lintels appear to be of cut stone painted white and shaped to match the interior window and door trim, a bold and unusual design.

Fred Schaible bought the house at auction in 1900 for $1,300. In 1910 he borrowed $500 to renovate the badly run-down house. With a family of four children and a wife, and at a wage of $6 a week, this was a major loan. But with it, he was able to install a bathroom, a new furnace, hardwood floors, gas pipes, electric wiring, and new chandeliers, which could be used with either gas or electricity. The Schaible daughter, Lucille, married Harry Schmid, and they lived in the house until very recent years. Mrs. Schmid kept the pewter numbers "57" which identified the house before the street numbering system was changed in 1897.

In 1990-91 businessman Peter Fink purchased the house and renovated it for office use.


Article Keywords: Greek Revival Architecture, Houses, Office Buildings, Thomas Earl House
People: Fred Schaible, Harry Schmid, Lucille Schaible Schmid, Mary Duncan Earl, Peter Fink, Thomas Earl
Places: 415 N Main St
Date: 1860

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.


Henry Simmons Frieze House, 1860


Henry Simmons Frieze House, 1860

1547 Washtenaw Avenue

Henry Simmons Frieze House, 1860

When Professor and Mrs. Henry Frieze located their country estate east of town on the main Ypsilanti Road, across from the J. D. Baldwin farm, they acquired seven acres with a fine stand of trees. Skilled stone masons from Guelph, Ontario, worked on the house, which features the soft colors and solid textures of locally cut stone. It is unique in the Ann Arbor area since few houses designed in the Italianate mode are articulated in such fine masonry work. The cornices, balconies and porch add elegance, charm, and a dramatic play of shadows to the stately residence. The generously sized rooms with eleven foot ceilings are finished with walnut and butternut woodwork. The landscaping is characteristic of the man for whom the house was built, for Frieze was devoted to nature and art and gave the turf, trees and rose hedges his personal attention.

When Frieze, a Professor of Latin at the University of Michigan, became acting president of the University in 1869, he sold the estate to "Deacon" Augustus Scott, a wealthy and retired gentleman from Toledo, who for almost thirty years made it the center of Ann Arbor social life. Scott added the cupola.

In 1898 the Frieze house was purchased by Horace L. Wilgus, professor of law. The Wilgus daughter married geography professor Stanley D. Dodge and they lived in the house, keeping it in the family until the William G. Shepherd family acquired the home in 1969. The Shepherds restored the slate roof and were active in a local group organized to protect and preserve the character of the Hill-Washtenaw area until they left Ann Arbor in the 1980s.


Article Keywords: Houses, Italianate Architecture
People: Anna Brownell Roffee Frieze, Augustus Scott, Henry Simmons Frieze, Horace L. Wilgus, Stanley D. Dodge, William G. Shepherd
Places: 1547 Washtenaw Ave
Date: 1860

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.