Local History Photos

Philip Bach Building, 1867


Philip Bach Building, 1867

126 South Main Street

Philip Bach Building, 1867

A photograph taken in 1867 pictures this impressive Italianate block built at a cost of $20,000, and newly opened for Philip Bach's dry goods business. "Prices were quite high at the time and a single stair-case cost $500," a later historian recalled. The photo shows the original wide flat cornice supported by ornate Italianate brackets. The name, Philip Bach, is over the awning, and a large "Business College" sign above the cornice indicates the use of the third floor.

Bach formed a partnership with Peter H. Abel in 1867. Some years later the firm became Bach and Roath. Around the turn of the century, Bruno St. James, Jr., left the firm of Goodyear and St. James to purchase the store, hiring Miss Bertha E. Muehlig as the bookkeeper for the new firm. She took over management of the business in 1911 and in 1924 she became the owner of the building as well as the business, continuing to do the bookkeeping as before.

Bertha's paternal grandparents emigrated from Germany in 1840. A devoutly religious family, they were part of the early Lutheran congregation led by the Reverend Frederick Schmid. Bertha was certainly a successful business woman, but she was even better known for her readiness to provide food and clothing for those struck by misfortune. She became a special patron of the Patrick Donovan School on Wall Street, where the pupils did not have the normal advantages. When the Donovan School was replaced by the new Northside School, she donated the dining room furniture, a silver tea service, and an aquarium. Each year she sent the children candy at Christmas time and pencils on Valentine's Day. A friend of the ladies at the Anna Botsford Bach Home on Liberty Street, she remembered their birthdays and provided many necessities.

Bertha Muehlig received many honors in recognition of her services to the people of Ann Arbor. After her death, several local businessmen invested in the store, continuing the business as before and perpetuating the name of the kind and generous woman until the late 1970s. The store retained the interior decor and services of the beginning of the century, including a spring operated cash carrier system which was probably the last of its kind in the state.

The law firm of Hooper, Hathaway, Price, Beuche and Wallace purchased the building in 1981 for their offices. A thorough and elegant renovation was done, for which the owners received a Bicentennial award. Windows were unblocked and the original appearance was restored as much as possible, with an iron entry created to mimic the original store front. They have also kept the old elevator and the oak staircase inside. (See previous photograph)


Places: 126 South Main 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.


Bank Block, 1867 (Goodyear's)


Bank Block, 1867 (Goodyear's)

120-124 South Main Street

Bank Block, 1867 (Goodyear's)

Shortly after it opened as the "Bank Building" in 1867, this structure was described as having "a freestone front, in which are large and elegant stores, and the First National Bank." The First National Bank was the first federally chartered bank in Michigan and only the twenty-second such bank in the United States.

As one of the new buildings in town, it showed "__ the magnitude and growing importance of this inland city" according to the 1872 City Directory. An 1867 photograph graphically illustrates this importance. It shows the building's elaborate central Gothic facade, intended to draw attention to the bank, its primary tenant. The pointed-arch windows and doorways in this portion contrast with those of the flanking buildings that have round-topped windows in the more common Italianate style of the period. An elaborate pinnacled cornice topped the bank portion of the building, increasing its visual domination on Main Street.

The building was known throughout most of its history, however, as the Goodyear Building or simply as Goodyear's. In 1888 William Goodyear and Bruno St. James founded a retail clothing business at 120 South Main Street. This business was to stay and expand into the flanking buildings until 1983, only five years short of its centennial. Initially known as Goodyear and St. James, it became Goodyear's in 1895. From the 1950s through the early 1980s, Goodyear's was the primary retail anchor for the central business district.

The closing of Goodyear's in 1983 for non-payment of taxes was a severe blow to downtown retail trade. Yet in 1984, spurred by tax credits for historic preservation and the goodwill of the community, developers undertook an authentic restoration of the building based on the 1867 photograph.

Keywords: Italianate, banks


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.


Anton Eisele House, 1869


Anton Eisele House, 1869

216 Catherine Street

Anton Eisele House, 1869
Creator: Eisele, Anton

The unusual carved stone lintels above the windows of this house are a clue to the profession of its builder. Anton Eisele, an immigrant from Germany, owned a stone-cutting business specializing in American and Italian marbles. Originally in partnership with his brother John W. in a business organized in 1868, he was prosperous enough to build this house in 1869. By the time the 1874 Atlas of Washtenaw County published an engraving of the house and Marble Works at the southeast corner of Catherine and Detroit Streets, Eisele was in business for himself.

Using stone and marble cutting skills learned in Germany, Eisele supplied both the marble and the carving for tombstones and other cemetery work. Recent renovations to a nearby building at 216 North Fourth Avenue yielded discarded fragments of his carving art.

After Eisele died in 1887, his stepson John Baumgardner continued to live in the house and run the business for which he built a two-story brick building across the street. It too exhibited the fine carving which characterized the family home but it was demolished in the 1930s for a gas station (now Argiero's Restaurant). Baumgardner expanded the business from tombstones to building stone, used primarily for sidewalks. Some of these still line the east side of Main Street between Washington and Liberty Streets. The house remains as a testament to the stone carving skills brought to Ann Arbor by Eisele and other Germans. It is now the home and office of attorney Pauline Rothmeyer.

Keywords: houses


Places: 216 Catherine Street
Date: 1869

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 G. Miller Planing Mill, 1869


John G. Miller Planing Mill, 1869

529 Detroit Street

John G. Miller Planing Mill, 1869
Treasure Mart, 1960

This Italianate brick building with its heavy triple-arched brick trim over the windows was built by John G. Miller as a planing mill specializing in "sash, doors, blinds [shutters">, molding and scroll work." It replaced an earlier wooden mill built in 1853 which, when it burned in July of 1869, the Michigan Argus lamented as "a public as well as private loss." The earlier mill had made carriages and sleighs using a new steam process for bending wood. When Miller began rebuilding three months after the fire, the Michigan Argus reported he was again building a "steam bending shop on the site of the one that burned."

Miller's new shop concentrated on the more lucrative business of providing millwork for the boom in house construction that followed the Civil War. Throughout the 19th century, Detroit Street hummed with industrial activity as other planing mills and carriage manufactories plied their trade nearby.

In 1878, Miller sold the mill to Herman Krapf who renamed it the Detroit Planing Mill and kept it operating until his death around 1906. By the 1920s this part of town was no longer a business center and the building was frequently vacant or used as a warehouse. In 1960 it was leased by Mrs. Demaris Cash who had dreamed of opening a retail consignment shop. She named her store the Treasure Mart, and today it ranks as one of Ann Arbor's most cherished institutions.

In 1983 Mrs. Cash purchased the building and the miller's house next door. Though now in her eighties, she still works behind the counter, having passed the management of the business on to her daughter, Elaine Johns.

Keywords: Italianate, commercial facilities Mills, Treasure Mart, commercial buildings


Places: 529 Detroit Street
Date: 1869

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.


Anton Eisele House and Marble Works, 1869


Anton Eisele House and Marble Works, 1869

216 Catherine Street

Anton Eisele House and Marble Works, 1869
Creator: Eisele, Anton

The unusual carved stone lintels above the windows of this house are a clue to the profession of its builder. Anton Eisele, an immigrant from Germany, owned a stone-cutting business specializing in American and Italian marbles. Originally in partnership with his brother John W. in a business organized in 1868, he was prosperous enough to build this house in 1869. By the time the 1874 Atlas of Washtenaw County published an engraving of the house and Marble Works at the southeast corner of Catherine and Detroit Streets, Eisele was in business for himself.
Using stone and marble cutting skills learned in Germany, Eisele supplied both the marble and the carving for tombstones and other cemetery work. Recent renovations to a nearby building at 216 North Fourth Avenue yielded discarded fragments of his carving art.

After Eisele died in 1887, his stepson John Baumgardner continued to live in the house and run the business for which he built a two-story brick building across the street. It too exhibited the fine carving which characterized the family home but it was demolished in the 1930s for a gas station (now Argiero's Restaurant). Baumgardner expanded the business from tombstones to building stone, used primarily for sidewalks. Some of these still line the east side of Main Street between Washington and Liberty Streets. The house remains as a testament to the stone carving skills brought to Ann Arbor by Eisele and other Germans. It is now the home and office of attorney Pauline Rothmeyer.

Keywords: marble works, houses, stone


Places: 216 Catherine Street
Date: 1869

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 Wagner Jr. Blacksmith Shop, 1869


John Wagner Jr. Blacksmith Shop, 1869

122 West Washington Street

John Wagner Jr. Blacksmith Shop, 1869

Blacksmithing and related crafts were already concentrated along Ashley Street (called Second Street until 1889) when John Wagner Jr. undertook the construction of his carriage and blacksmith shop in 1869. He was not only expanding the craft into more elegant quarters but was also carrying on a family tradition. His father, John Wagner Sr., trained as a blacksmith in his native Wurttemberg and was one of Ann Arbor's earliest blacksmiths, arriving from Germany in 1837. He lived kitty corner from this shop, at the southwest corner of Ashley and Washington. John Jr. must have succeeded at his trade, for the 1872 City Directory contained the following advertisement: "John Wagner, Jr. CARRIAGE AND BLACKSMITH SHOP, keeps on hand and manufactures to order all kinds of CARRIAGES, WAGONS AND SLEIGHS. Customer work and horse shoeing done promptly and in a satisfactory manner...Corner Washington and Second Streets."

By 1874, probably due to the Depression of 1873, the shop became the property of John Schneider Jr., another early German pioneer and blacksmith. In 1878 Schneider was in business with his brother Louis, but by 1883 he was by himself. Three years later Schneider's horse shoeing business moved around the corner onto Ashley Street (where Wagner's business had moved earlier), and the building was named the Union Hotel. In 1888 a bottling works shared this building with the hotel and by 1899 only the bottling works remained.

After 1895, the storefront portion was operated by Oswald Dietz as Deitz's Saloon. Throughout the 20th century, saloons and restaurants operated here under a half dozen different names: Barrell House, Dietz's Soft Drinks (during Prohibition), Flautz's Restaurant, Metzger's German-American Restaurant, Flautz's Cafe, LaCasa Restaurant, and Del Rio Restaurant and Bar, the present tenant. Charles Miller, in his 1982 biography of W. H. Auden, recounts going with Auden in 1941 to "the then popular Flautz Tavern" and having him comment, "This is all right, but isn't there a common place where, uh, the workers go? A kind of beer hall?" (They ended up going to another bar on Ashley Street.)

This commercial Italianate building is typical of many built just after the Civil War in Ann Arbor. It is of local red brick, three stories high, with a fancy bracketed cornice surmounting brick pilasters which divide the facade into three bays. True to the Italianate style, the upper story windows are tall and narrow and capped with curved window heads and keystones.

The ground floor facade was sympathetically remodeled in the mid-1970s. Using an old photograph, the new owners eliminated earlier changes inappropriate to the building's style.

Keywords: commercial facilities, commercial buildings, Italianate


Places: 122 West Washington Street
Date: 1869

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.


St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 1868-69


St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 1868-69

306 North Division Street

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 1868-69

St. Andrew's Church in Ann Arbor was organized in 1828. As the church grew in numbers and wealth, its history was filled with names that are familiar as well in the progress of the town. The early congregation included the Dexter, Kingsley, Clark and Chapin families. George Corselius, popular editor of Ann Arbor's early Western Emigrant, conveyed one acre of land to the church in 1835, upon which a church building was constructed in 1839 and enlarged in 1856 to provide "free sittings" (in contrast to pew rents) for University students. This building stood just north of the present structure at some elevation from the street, and was approached by a flight of twenty steps ???_ an interesting topographical note.

When the congregation needed a larger church building, it was decided to start with only the nave, and to accept the plans and specifications of Detroit architect Gordon W. Lloyd, who, the Michigan Argus stated, "is doing so much for church architecture in the west." The corner stone was laid in June of 1868, consecration of the finished building taking place on November 10, 1869. In 1879 a chapel and rectory, also designed by architect Lloyd, were added and in the 1890s the recessed chancel and choir stalls were built. Finally, in 1903, a gift from Mrs. Love Palmer in memory of her husband Alonzo made it possible to complete Lloyd's design by constructing the tower, which added to the long, low church "just the culmination and decision which it has always needed." (Arthur Lyon Cross, History of St. Andrew's Church, 1906).

The style is English Gothic, after the style of the parish churches of Lloyd's native land. The construction material, selected field boulders, generally granite and beautifully varied in hue, were split and laid in courses, each course varying from ten to fourteen inches wide. The gable is surmounted by a stone Greek cross. The roof is laid in diamonds of different colored slate, finished with ornamental cresting of cast iron on its ridge. Lloyd incorporated unusual long clerestory windows along each side wall under the patterned roof, with quatrefoil windows to let more light into the nave. The stained glass in these windows was furnished by Friedrichs of Brooklyn, New York. The interior plan follows the typical basilica form of a central long nave flanked by side aisles. The tower, topped by battlements and conical pinnacles, is over eighty feet high. In an attached turret on the front of the tower are stairs to the second story and belfry. A pleasant enclosed cloister to the north of the sanctuary was finished in the 1960s.

Memorial gifts over the years have further embellished the interior. Of special note are the walnut eagle lectern (circa 1875) and a brilliantly colored central south windown by the renowned Louis Comfort Tiffany. Two stained glass windows were installed behind the organ chancel by Willet & Company of Philadelphia in the late 1970s as a memorial to George Hunschey, organist and choir master in the church for many years.

St. Andrew's was included in the Division Street Historic District at the request of the vestry or governing board, which is mindful of the treasure in its custody. New front doors, careful copies of the deteriorated originals, were installed in 1975.

Go to St. Andrew's Church web site...

Keywords: Gothic Revival, churches


Places: 306 North Division Street
Date: 1869

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.


Peter Brehm House, 1870


Peter Brehm House, 1870

326 West Liberty Street

Peter Brehm House, 1870
Daniel's On Liberty

Peter Brehm, proprietor of The Western Brewery located on Fourth Street near William Street, built his mansard-roofed brick home in the Second Empire style around 1870. In choosing this particular style, Brehm was participating in a short-lived trend in Ann Arbor architecture. The 1860s and 70s witnessed a flurry of building activity, especially in the central city. A few of the more affluent chose the Second Empire style, the most elaborate examples of which were Hill's Opera House at Main and Ann Streets (now demolished as were most residential examples of this style), and the Raja Rani restaurant at Division and William Streets, built as the residence of architect Peleg Marshall in 1860. This boom turned to bust in the Panic of 1873 and newspapers began to fill up with mortgage sales and business failures. Building activity virtually ground to a halt. Brehm's residence remains a rare survivor of this style.

The mansard roof that is the hallmark of this fashionable style was popularized by French Renaissance architect Francois Mansart, revived by Napoleon III in the 1850s and copied throughout Europe and the Americas. Brehm's residential version is a simple domestic expression of the wealth, and monumentality reflected in more elaborate examples. The roof, it should be noted, tops a building more Italianate in character with typical round-headed windows, hood-moldings, overhanging eaves and decorative brackets. Such combinations of styles were common for Midwest American architecture.

Brehm founded the Western Brewery in 1861 after arriving in Ann Arbor the same year. By the 1880s, under different ownership, it was the largest brewery in Ann Arbor. Brehm became wealthy as a brewer and in 1868 was able to purchase the property at 326 West Liberty, demolish an old house on the site, and construct his Second Empire building. Another brewer who also became wealthy in this period was John Adam Volz, who built an elaborate Italianate house at 716 North Fifth Avenue.

Brehm's quick rise to wealth is almost as puzzling as his decline, for by 1872 he no longer owned the Western Brewery. Equally mysterious is his suicide in 1873, though the Panic of that year may have been the root cause. (Volz lost his brewery in the same depression.) No hint of scandal, however, was mentioned by either newspaper when they noted his death: "Peter Brehm, former proprietor of the Western Brewery committed suicide on Friday last, by shooting himself in the forehead with a pistol. He had been for some time laboring under a sort of mania induced by hard drinking... The particulars of the melancholy death of Peter Brehm... are these: suffering from temporary insanity, he thought he should be sued by someone... Last Friday he came home and informed his wife that he had been sued and must go to court. Changing his clothes, he started towards the Court House, but soon returned going directly to his room, shooting himself through the head, dying instantly. Mr. Brehm was a kind-hearted and very generous man, respected by all who knew him"

After Brehm died his wife, daughter, and son Gustav, who served two terms as City Clerk and County Treasurer, continued to live here. In 1894, Gustav joined forces with a former competitor of his father and started the Ann Arbor Brewing Company, of which he was secretary.
Two years later he sold his Liberty Street property to William Arnold, a local jeweler and a descendant of early immigrants from Germany. Arnold and his wife Siona raised five sons and continued to live in the house until their deaths in 1930 and 1932. William Sr., a well-known and prosperous merchant, owned the German-American savings Bank, the State Savings Bank, and the Artificial Ice Company, one of the major industries in Ann Arbor in the early 20th century. Other businesses associated with the Arnold family included Ann Arbor Asphalt, Ann Arbor Construction, and Abbott Gasoline.

In the 1930s and 40s the house was used by family relations attending the University of Michigan and as a summer home for Arnold family members. In 1952 the International Order of Odd Fellows purchased it and converted it to a meeting hall. When the Moveable Feast restaurant bought it in 1978, Emil Arnold reminisced about growing up in the house, remembering that at the turn of the century electricians and plumbers had trouble wiring and plumbing the house due to its thick brick walls.

Today Peter Brehm's, without its original porch, front door, or roof brackets has been partially restored both inside and out. The interior has its original shutters and bannister which add to the ambience and form an elegant backdrop for dining.

Keywords: Moveable Feast, restaurants, Daniels On Liberty, second empire, houses


Places: 326 West Liberty Street
Date: 1870

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.


Heinrich Building, 1870


Heinrich Building, 1870

111 South Fourth Avenue

Heinrich Building, 1870

There was a saloon at this location from the time the first courthouse was built in the 1830s until Prohibition days. With Solon Cook's Temperance Hotel across the street, the saloon was probably a popular refuge. It survived a reform period in the 1870s when the number of saloons in Ann Arbor was cut from 80 to 32.

John D. Heinrich, proprietor of the Kossuth House Saloon at the corner of Pontiac (Beakes) and Summit, acquired this property on South Fourth Avenue in the early 1860s. Before the decade closed he replaced the old saloon with this commercial Italianate brick structure, which Heinrich and his son-in-law George Stein operated as a saloon-hotel-residence until his death in 1890.

Number 111 South Fourth continued to be a saloon, changing management several times, until 1918 and the coming of the prohibition era. Thereafter it housed a succession of small businesses. The adjoining building at No. 113, which originally housed a blacksmith shop, was erected in the early 1900s.

The Heinrich Building is in good condition with its Italianate cornice and most of the ground floor facade intact. The facade is unusual, having pilasters at the corners and between the windows. The upper levels now make up a condominium and the first floor awaits an occupant. The original wooden basement steps, worn away through the years by beer barrels rolled to cellar storage, were used as a sculpture on an exposed interior brick wall by attorney Peter DeLoof during his tenure as owner and occupant.

Keywords: Italianate, Commercial facilities, saloons


Places: 111 South Fourth Avenue
Date: 1870

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 G. and Mary Foster House, 1870


William G. and Mary Foster House, 1870

324 Catherine Street

William G. and Mary Foster House, 1870

This two-and-a-half story brick building is an austere version of the Italianate style, lacking the more exuberant arched window hoods, bay windows and belvederes commonly found in this style. Only a few of the characteristic elements can be found such as the paired carved brackets under the eaves and the half-size "eyebrow" windows on the third floor. Although the porch is not original and the windows have been replaced, the exterior is basically little changed, including the classical doorway with transom and sidelights.

The house was built for attorney William G. Foster and his wife Mary. When Foster died suddenly in 1873, his widow entered the University of Michigan Law School and, in 1876 at the age of 51, obtained her law degree with high honors. She opened her practice in this house as Ann Arbor's first female lawyer.

Mary Lowry Foster was a native of New York State who had come to Michigan at the age of one and grown up in Lodi Township. Hers is the only portrait of a woman in her own right (and not as a wife) in the 1881 History of Washtenaw County Described in this history as ranking "high among the profession," Foster wrote the next year that she "ignores the base, pities the ignorant & commits all to the great Law Giver" and that her home was "a place the very atmosphere of which is freedom to think, act, and plan wisely."

Mary Foster was active in the Women's Christian Temperance Union and a member of several pioneer societies. In 1879 she read a paper in Lansing entitled "Echoes of the Past," that was reprinted in 1880 by the Pioneer Society of Michigan. Since 1988 the Women Lawyers Association has presented an annual "Mary Foster Award" in memory of this remarkable woman. Today her home is a rental property with most of the tenants being students at the University of Michigan.

Keywords: Italianate, houses


Places: 324 Catherine Street
Date: 1870

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.