Local History Photos

John N. Gott House, 1861


John N. Gott House, 1861

709 West Huron Street

John N. Gott House, 1861

Begun in the 1850s by William C. Voorheis, this Italianate brick mansion was completed in 1861 by a creditor, attorney John N. Gott, who lived here for three decades. In 1890 it was sold to Dr. William James Herdman, a prominent member of the University of Michigan's medical faculty, who converted it to a private hospital. Fond of experimenting with medical uses of electricity in his laboratory, at home Herdman was a Victorian autocrat. "I'll do the thinking around here!" he admonished his daughter when she hesitatingly prefaced a statement with the words, "I think--" His son, school and city physician E. K. Herdman, inherited the property in 1906. After 1925, Dr. William Koch, who claimed to have a cure for cancer, treated patients in his clinic on the premises.

When the Eugene Hannahs bought the place from Koch in 1941, they named it the "Martha Washington House" as it provided lodgings for women only. Acquisition of a second rooming house for men, to be named for George Washington, was contemplated but never accomplished.

When Donald and Lorraine Haugen purchased the house in 1971, they hoped to reopen some of the seven original fireplaces, one of which has a lovely marble mantel, but were disappointed to find that the chimneys had been removed when the roof was resurfaced. Later in the 1970s, the firm of Bishop and Shelton purchased the house and, with practically no change to the interior or the exterior, converted it to law offices.

The cast iron window grilles in this stately landmark are identical to those in the Kempf House. Apparently a stock item available to local builders, the same grilles have been found on several farmhouses in rural Washtenaw County.

Keywords: hospitals, houses, Italianate


Places: 709 West Huron Street
Date: 1861

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.


Moses Rogers House, 1861


Moses Rogers House, 1861

121 North Division Street

Moses Rogers House, 1861

This is one of the few nineteenth century homes in the Division Street Historic District that has been modernized and maintained as a single family home. Although originally surrounded by larger and more elegant homes, the simple lines of this Italianate house with its finely detailed brackets have long been admired. The original porch has been removed and a dormer added on the third floor, but the house has otherwise changed little in its outward appearance.

The house was built about 1861 for Moses and Letitia Sweetland Rogers and their daughters, Ellen and Katie. Moses and his more famous brother Randolph were sons of an Ann Arbor baker. Randolph left Ann Arbor to become world renowned as a sculptor; among his works are the bronze doors of the Capitol in Washington, D. C. A full-sized version of his popular genre statue "Nydia" (the blind heroine of Bulwer-Lytton's novel The Last Days of Pompeii) is in a collection of the University of Michigan Museum of Art, purchased for the University by the Randolph Rogers Art Association of Ann Arbor. Moses was also a talented artist but had little time to devote to his painting. He owned the Ann Arbor Agricultural Works, which grew from a downtown store to a sprawling factory on Broadway by the river, producing Advance sulke rakes, chilled plows, and hay tedders. Moses also held a number of local political offices and was a trustee of the First Unitarian Society of Ann Arbor.

Rogers' daughter Katie born in 1849, achieved considerable fame as an artist, particularly as a painter of portraits. Professor Gookins, her tutor at the Chicago Academy, was impressed by her work and wished to show one of her paintings at the great Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, a rare opportunity for any artist. Katie modestly declined. The 1881 History of Washtenaw County describes her portraiture as "lifelike and striking. Whether painting the soft dimple upon the cheek of an innocent babe, or the harder lines of the aged pioneer, there seems to be a reality about the work which makes one feel that he is in a living presence." When her father died in 1888, Katie forsook her home studio for seven years to run his farm machine business. She herself died in 1901. Some of her surviving paintings are in the possession of the Washtenaw County Historical Society.

Keywords: Italianate, houses


Places: 121 North Division Street
Date: 1861

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.


David Hemmings Cooper Shop, 1864


David Hemmings Cooper Shop, 1864

417 Detroit Street

David Hemmings Cooper Shop, 1864
Ann Arbor Ecology Center

Barrel and stave manufacturer David Henning built this commercial Italianate building with its round topped windows in 1864 during the midst of the Civil War. Born in Ireland, he came to Ann Arbor in 1836. Enriched by lucrative contracts with the Union Army, Henning became one of Ann Arbor's wealthiest citizens.

In 1871 another business pioneer Moses Rogers bought the building. Rogers had operated a large and successful agricultural implements business at 201 Catherine throughout the 1860s. Feeling the need to slow down, he went into partnership with John Treadwell in 1867, expecting that Treadwell would be the proprietor and he would provide "aid and experience."

After a disastrous fire destroyed their inventory, Rogers purchased the Henning building and started in business all over again at the age of 61. Rogers banked on his good reputation and his well known civic activities, especially for Civil War Relief. He continued here in business until his death in 1888, after which his daughter Katie continued to run the store, giving up her own career as a well-known artist and portrait painter. She sold the business in 1895 and died six years later.

The building's condition declined, along with the rest of the neighborhood, throughout the 20th century. Over the years it served as a warehouse, a creamery, a machine shop, a pattern works, and an art gallery. Yet despite its many changes of ownership it was never seriously altered and still retains its original wavy, hand-blown glass in the windows.

In the 1960s Travis and Demaris Cash purchased the building and began to rehabilitate it, preserving its fine original details. The Cashes salvaged the wrought iron fence from the old Rominger property on South Fifth Avenue when that house was torn down for the Ann Arbor Public Library parking lot. Their long-time tenant has been the Ann Arbor Ecology Center whose flagship office has been here since 1970. In 1976 the preservation efforts of the Cashes were cited with an award from the Ann Arbor Bicentennial Commission.

Keywords: commercial buildings, commercial facilities, office buildings, Italianate


Places: 417 Detroit Street
Date: 1864

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.


Jacob Beck House, 1864


Jacob Beck House, 1864

1444 West Liberty Street

Jacob Beck House, 1864

Jacob Beck built this Greek Revival house in 1864 on twenty acres he had purchased from Eber White, a pioneer farmer in Ann Arbor Township. Beck had been a farmer himself for many years in Scio Township, where his family had settled in 1832. This was his retirement home, and he and his wife spend their last years here. "While residing in Ann Arbor he had no business cares, but enjoyed the rest which he had truly earned and richly deserved," a biographer wrote in 1906.

Interior living space was gained when the roof of the house was raised to permit the addition of the upper story. The bay window on the west is a recent embellishment. Well preserved after more than a century on its hill, the Beck house remains a private residence.

Keywords: Greek Revival, houses


Places: 1444 West Liberty Street
Date: 1864

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.


Keating Family House, circa 1865


Keating Family House, circa 1865

920 East Ann Street

Keating Family House, circa 1865

This nice example of a vernacular "upright and wing" (a house form with both front and side sections) was first occupied by the Keating family around 1868, although a smaller house appears on maps as early as 1866. The property jumped in value in 1873 which may be when the home was enlarged to its current size.

Perhaps this was due to the success of the 1872 Ann Arbor City Directory, compiled and published by John Keating with James Cole. That directory lists John living here with his brothers Thomas J., a cigar maker, and Timothy, who was actually the owner of record by 1873. Timothy was a mason who did the stonework for the first St. Thomas School, yet he lived in an entirely wooden house with a porch of thin chamfered columns and lacy gingerbread common to houses built in the 1860s.

Of all the Keating residents, John was probably the most well known as the publisher of a professional medical journal, The Physician and Surgeon, from 1879?????1915. This journal, under the associated editorship of Keating and several University of Michigan faculty members, had a national circulation.

Although John Keating later moved to a house of his own on Kingsley Street, the Ann Street house continued to be occupied by members of Timothy Keating's family throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Like most of their Irish neighbors, they were members of the St. Thomas parish and are buried in a family plot in the St. Thomas cemetery. The last surviving descendant of Thomas Keating lived in the house until 1971. It is now a rental property but still maintains its quiet dignity on its large, well-landscaped site.

Keywords: houses


Places: 920 East Ann Street
Date: 1865

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.


Clark Girls School, 1865


Clark Girls School, 1865

505 North Division Street

Clark Girls School, 1865

The most famous and most permanent of the private schools in 19th-century Ann Arbor was the Misses Clark's Seminary for Young Ladies. This simple brick building, now converted to apartments, was the sixth and final location of that school.

Mary Clark came to Washtenaw County in the 1830s with her family and established the school in Ann Arbor in 1839 with her sisters Chloe and Roby. All three were graduates of the famous finishing school of Mrs. Emma Willard of Troy, New York, and brought the Willard philosophy of education into the wilderness. According to the 1881 History of Washtenaw County, "many prominent women owe their high culture to the facilities enjoyed in [the Clark"> seminary."

So famous was this school in the 1840s and 50s that one-third of its pupils came from outside Ann Arbor, some from as far away as New York. The education philosophy was heavy in moral tone and stressed observations of nature as Mary Clark was an avid botanist. Boarders were not allowed to receive callers except on Friday or Saturday evenings with the principal present. Shopping was allowed only on Wednesday or Saturday afternoons as the Misses Clark did not want to "promote an undue love of society, but an acquaintance of the courtesies of life."

When Mary Clark died in 1875, the school closed, never to be re-opened. Chloe died shortly thereafter in 1880 and an era of old-fashioned gentility died with them.

By 1900 the building had been converted into apartments. Called the Oakwood Apartments in the 1910s, it was further subdivided in the 1920s into eight units and renamed the McLean Apartments by its owner and resident Donald McLean. McLean family members still own and reside in it today.

Keywords: apartment houses, schools


Places: 505 North Division Street
Date: 1865

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.


James F. Royce House, 1866


James F. Royce House, 1866

311 East Ann Street

James F. Royce House, 1866
Creator: Royce, James F.

James F. Royce, an early pioneer of Washtenaw County, built this pristine example of an "Italianate cube" in 1866. Royce came to Ann Arbor from Connecticut in 1830 as a skilled cabinet maker and began a chair-making business which lasted for several decades. He later operated a carriage factory and clerked for Philip Bach, his son-in-law. Royce was 61 years old when he built this house and Bach may have paid for it as a form of "social security" for his aging father-in-law.

The house exhibits typical features of the Italianate Cube style: a low, hipped roof with paired brackets under the wide eaves, a symmetrical arrangement of windows and doors, and ornamental sawn woodwork or "gingerbread" on the front and side porches. Thin chamfered porch posts with no railings are also typical of this style, though the still-working pairs of French doors and louvered shutters are very unusual in Ann Arbor. What is most remarkable is that almost no changes have been made to this house since its construction. Even the windows still have their original blown glass.

Mrs. Royce's will gives us an idea of how this house was furnished in the 1880s. She left her "large lamp with glass pendants" to Philip Bach and "a small marble top stand" to his wife, while other members of the Bach family received her mahogany sofa covered with hair cloth. The wife of the minister of the Baptist Church received her "gold bowed glasses as a memento of my love and respect for her."

Following Mrs. Royce's death, the house was sold to two unmarried sisters, Harriet and Electa Knight, daughters of another Washtenaw County pioneer. They lived here and rented rooms to various relatives attending Ann Arbor High School. Later they rented rooms to doctors and nurses working at the hospitals nearby. By the 1920s many upper and middle class people moved out of the Old Fourth Ward into Burns Park and other newer subdivisions. The house remained a single-family dwelling until the 1960s. Since then it has been rented as apartments.

Keywords: rooming houses, boarding houses, lodging houses, Italianate


Places: 311 East Ann Street
Date: 1866

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.


The Adam and Anton Schaeberle Buildings, 1866


The Adam and Anton Schaeberle Buildings, 1866

112-122 West Liberty Street

The Adam and Anton Schaeberle Buildings. 1866

The uniform architecture of this row of buildings belies the variety of the shops over its more than a century of use. Prior to 1865, small scattered buildings existed on these lots, owned by Adam and Anton Schaeberle. In 1868 the Schaeberles sold lots 114, 116, 120 and 122, retaining 118 for their own harness shop. Construction of the five buildings was begun by the Schaeberles and the new owners, George Huss, John Laubengayer, and probably Conrad Wetzel. By 1872 Jacob Binder had his meat market at 114, George Huss owned 116 which later became the Gauss Boot and Shoe Store, and John Laubengayer had a flour and feed shop at 120 and 122. Upper floors were used as residences.

By 1883 the building at 112 had been remodeled to conform to the other five, with the space between filled in (note the narrow windows on this section). An elaborate cornice with carved brackets once capped the unified structure of commercial Italianate style. The buildings had stone basements, exterior brick walls one foot thick, and pressed metal ceilings. Later the buildings were extended 22 feet into a former alley.

The five buildings are still individually owned. Ehnis & Son, originally a harness maker, now a work clothes store, has been at 116 since 1913. The Round Table Restaurant, a popular dining spot for businessmen, bankers and lawyers, moved from West Huron Street to 114 in the early 1960s. While one regrets the removal (a few decades ago) of the fine cornice, recent cleaning of the brick and rehabilitation of the store fronts have restored a handsome aspect to this row of buildings.

Keywords: commercial buildings, office buildings, Commercial facilities, Italianate


Places: 112-122 West Liberty Street
Date: 1866

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 Christian Burkhart House, 1867


John Christian Burkhart House, 1867

706 West Liberty Street

John Christian Burkhart House, 1867

Charly Rieckhoff purchased the John Christian Burkhart home in the late 1980s and discovered the outline of an earlier porch when he removed the wide aluminum siding. With the aid of a neighbor's old snapshot and the scars left on the clapboard, Rieckhoff began his transformation of this center-entry Italianate structure. Using skills he acquired while working with his father on old houses, he added insulation and replaced the clapboard with new redwood the same width. He even crafted the trim by hand to match the outlines of the original woodwork uncovered when the siding was removed.

This was in keeping with the tradition established by Burkhart, a German carpenter and skilled cabinetmaker who reportedly moved to Ann Arbor from his farm in 1848 to help construct the first Bethlehem Church. Margaret Murawski, in a 1968 article in the Huron Valley Ad-visor, claimed that Burkhart built this house and the church in the same year. Since this house dates to 1867, this oral tradition probably refers to another house Burkhart owned across the street at 707 West Liberty.

After her father's death in the 1880s, John's youngest daughter Mary remained to take care of her mother and then lived there with her husband Christian Overbeck after their marriage. They raised their two children here and one son, Erwin, owned and operated Overbeck's Books on South University for half a century. Casper Enkemann, Chief of Police in Ann Arbor from 1948-1960, later purchased the house and lived here with his wife Gladys until his death in 1982.

When Rieckhoff completed the exterior restoration he began to work on the interior and then on the grounds. With the help of landscape historian Scott Kunst he has added an authentic 1870s garden to the front yard, and built a wooden picket fence to enclose it. In 1990 Rieckhoff was given a Rehabilitation Award by the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission.

Keywords: Italianate, houses


Places: 706 West Liberty Street
Date: 1867

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.


Forest Hill Cemetery, 1858 & 1867


Forest Hill Cemetery, 1858 & 1867

415 Observatory

Forest Hill Cemetery, 1858 & 1867
Creator: Morwick, James

In 1856, a Cemetery Company was formed to choose a site for a new cemetery in Ann Arbor. The cemetery then in use (now Felch Park) was too small and was hemmed in by the expanding town and university. After offering $50 for the best plan, the Company chose a hilly part of town south of the Observatory, known as the Taylor farm, to construct a new type of cemetery. No longer to consist of rows of tombstones next to the church, the new approach called for a scenic setting, reflecting the peacefulness and repose of death. In the 1850s, this new view of cemeteries saw them as places for contemplation. In fact, the movement towards the creation of the public parks system in the United States began in the picturesque or "romantic" cemetery movement.

Forest Hill was inspired by the first and most well-known of the Romantic cemeteries in America, Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Boston, Massachusetts, which had introduced the naturalistic English landscape style to American cemeteries. Like Mt. Auburn, Forest Hill has a varied topography. While it is flat along Geddes and Observatory, it has several hills and vales in the interior. And also like Mt. Auburn, it features curved paths that follow the slopes, many of which bear the same floral names: verbena, myrtle, snowdrop, eglantine, and moss.

Although the $50 does not appear to have been awarded to anyone, we do know that the original map of the cemetery was drawn by Colonel J.L. Glen of Niles who is also believed to have been the designer. Colonel Glen was a civil engineer who had surveyed and laid out the city of Lansing and had been in charge of the construction of the State Capitol.

The new cemetery was dedicated on May 19, 1859 and what a dedication it was. It is described by O. W. Stephenson in his 1927 Ann Arbor The First Hundred Years: "...Under the direction of George D. Hill... a great procession marched to the grounds. First came a band, then several military companies, officiating clergy, the orator for the day, the President of the Cemetery Board, William S. Maynard, and other members. In order after these came the Common Council, the faculty of the University, the members of the Board of Education, teachers of different schools, editors and printers, the student body of the University, members of the fire companies, another band, the Masons, Oddfellows, private citizens and children of the public schools."

After the dedication, the graves of many early settlers buried in the old cemetery were moved to Forest Hill. In its 103-year history over 17,000 people have been buried there, from Elisha Rumsey, co-founder of Ann Arbor, to University presidents, prominent citizens, and foreign students. The first person permanently interred was Benajah Ticknor, the Navy surgeon who built Cobblestone Farm.

In 1866, the Cemetery Board instructed the Building Committee to solicit designs for an office, gatehouse, and caretaker's house at the entrance to the cemetery. The plans selected were by noted architect, Gordon W. Lloyd, and the builder was James Morwick, who had recently built the chapel addition to St. Andrew's Episcopal Church and the home of Dr. Alonzo Palmer at the corner of Division and Ann Streets. In the Gothic Ravival style, the cemetery buildings exhibit typical features including lancet windows, slate roofs with colorful lozenge and diamond patterns, a quatrefoil window in the gable of the caretaker's house, and wavy bargeboards curving under the roof eaves of each gable. The original metal roof cresting is some of the last remaining in Ann Arbor.

The walls are cut fieldstone of various soft colors and the entire effect is one of picturesque beauty, further enhanced by the charming cemetery gate: a pointed stone arch capped by a copper topped belfry. Two stone pillars flank the entrance on which are inscribed: "J. Morwick, Builder" and "Walker Bros, Masons."

Forest Hill today retains much of its original design. Flat gravestones along Observatory preserve the open view to the large monuments. As trees and shrubs have matured, however, the contrast between the wooded areas and the grassy meadows has been obscured. Just beyond the gateway and dominating the entry stands the Washtenaw county Civil War Memorial, moved here from the courthouse lawn at Main and Huron Streets when the new courthouse was built in 1954.

Keywords: cemeteries, houses, Gothic Revival, lodges, caretakers


Places: 415 Observatory
Date: 1867

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.