Local History Photos

Frederick Sorg Block, 1871


Frederick Sorg Block, 1871

216-218 East Washington

Frederick Sorg Block, 1871

When Frederick Sorg completed the brick block at 216 for his paint and glass depot in 1871, he realized such instant success that he built a second store next door in 1872 at 218 East Washington. One of the local newspapers, the Peninsular Courier, remarked in July of that year that a "new brick block is going up rapidly." It joined the ranks of Ann Arbor's other brick commercial blocks that were sprouting up in downtown during the boom years of the early 1870s.

Sorg was so proud of this building that he featured it in many of his advertisements. In the 1874 Atlas of Washtenaw County an engraving shows in delicate shadings the second-floor arched windows separated by thin brick pilasters. It also shows the floor-to-ceiling plate glass storefront windows that were the newest rage among businesses.

Sorg advertised himself as a "house, sign, and ornamental painter, dealing in paints, oils, varnishes, glass etc." Paper hanging, printing and glazing also were his specialties and by the late 1870s he had added graining and gilding. His work was carried on by his son Albert until 1886. In the 1890s Edgar Munyon and his wife Addie ran a millinery shop here and lived upstairs, just as the Sorgs had. Throughout the 20th century the building housed a succession of businesses including a barber shop, a tape recorder store, a donut company, a shoe store and a coal store.

In 1985 Robert Tisch, owner of Tisch Incorporated, an insurance and investment services firm, purchased the building and hired architect Daniel H. Jacobs to remove the porcelain enamel panels that had covered the front since the 1950s. The original facade was then restored using the drawing in the county atlas as a guide.

Recognizing the great improvement both to the building and to the street as a whole, the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission awarded Tisch a Rehabilitation Award in 1986 for his sensitive restoration of the building's interior as well as its exterior.


Article Keywords: Commercial Buildings, Frederick Sorg Block, Rehabilitation Award
People: Addie Munyon, Daniel H. Jacobs, Edgar Munyon, Frederick Sorg, Robert Tisch
Places: 216-218 E Washington St
Date: 1871

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.

| Report Problem

Hoban Block, 1871


Hoban Block, 1871

109-119 East Ann Street

Hoban Block, 1871

Prior to the Civil War, tailors and grocers were located in this block, but the headline in the December 30, 1870 issue of the Michigan Argus "Fire on Rotten Row" reveals its true character at the time. The paper reported that the buildings, owned by Mrs. Hoban, were a total loss. By March of 1871, however, the Peninsular Courier reported that ground had been broken for a new building and by the summer of that year it was completed. The 1881 History of Washtenaw County commented that Mrs. Hoban had "built a substantial business on Ann Street in 1871 at a cost of several thousand dollars."

It was the epitome of commercial architecture at the time: a row of almost identical brick storefronts in the Italianate commercial style. Three stories high, the first floor contained storefronts with large glass windows, while the second and third floors were office and residential. Characteristic of the style are the brick arched windows with round tops on the third floor and segmental arches on the second. Except for the building at 109, brick corbeling unites the facades of all six of these storefronts. At one time a bracketed cornice united them as well.

The block contained the usual collection of businesses: restaurants, groceries, and butcher shops. But it also had more than its share of saloons and "disreputable" establishments. In 1898 a local newspaper published a map showing the saloons that were corrupting the University of Michigan students were all clustered in the block north of the courthouse. Just around the corner from the Hoban Block was "Ann Arbor's Official Bawdy House."

Though the unsavory character of the area persisted, the "Ann Street Block" was also known for its blues bars in the 1960s and 1970s. Clint's Club was a popular meeting place for African-Americans who supported the block's bars, pool halls, and barber shops.

In the mid-1980s, owner Peter Bilakos began to restore the storefronts individually and his legal offices now occupy the first floor of one of them.


Article Keywords: Commercial Buildings, Hoban Block, Italianate Architecture, Office Buildings
People: Mrs. Hoban, Peter Bilakos
Places: 109-119 E Ann St
Date: 1871

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.

| Report Problem

John Adam Volz House, 1873


John Adam Volz House, 1873

716 North Fifth Avenue

John Adam Volz House, 1873

This exceptionally handsome and symmetrical Italianate house, with its bracketed eaves, segmental arched windows and brick detailing, was built for John Adam Volz in 1873. The intricate carving of the wood entry porch is still in fine condition. A summer kitchen to the rear was converted to a dining room and a new kitchen added in two stages in 1880 and 1890.

Volz had been the proprietor of the Ann Arbor Central Brewery next door at the corner of Fifth and Summit, since its opening in 1858. Water for the brewing operation was obtained from a spring behind the house. Volz sold the brewery the same year he built the house and two years later he sold the house as well to Jacob F. Beck, one of the new owners of the brewery. John Volz' daughter, Amelia, married John Jacob Muehlig. The second of their five children was Ann Arbor dry goods merchant and philanthropist, Bertha Muehlig, born in 1874.

In 1885, another young German emigrant, Frederick Walther, a miller by trade, purchased the house. His family and its descendants occupied it for more than eighty years. The Walther family took cuttings from a garden of lilac varietals in the Nichols Arboretum. The arboretum lilac garden is gone but the large old lilac shrubs which shelter the garden of this house grew from those cuttings.


Article Keywords: Houses, Italianate Architecture, John Adam Volz House
People: Frederick Walther, Jacob F. Beck, John Adam Volz
Places: 716 N Fifth Ave
Date: 1873

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.

| Report Problem

John George Koch House, 1874


John George Koch House, 1874

530 South Division Street

John George Koch House, 1874

Showcased by its high-profile location next to Hanover Square at the intersection of Division, Packard, and Madison Streets, this brick Italianate "cube" was built in 1874 for John George Koch. Koch was a local furniture maker who had originally apprenticed in Germany. Like many other Germans in Ann Arbor, Koch immigrated from Wurttemberg in 1866. Also like many men of this era, he worked and traveled through many parts of the country including New Haven, Connecticut; Columbus, Ohio; and Dexter, Michigan before finally settling in Ann Arbor in 1872. For seven years he was a stockholder and assistant superintendent of the Keck Furniture Company. In 1880 Koch attempted to go into business on his own but soon teamed up with Jacob Haller in the firm of Koch and Haller, furniture dealers.

Koch sold the house in 1888 to Sarah and William Rice, a wealthy farmer descended from pioneer families of Washtenaw County, who had retired to Ann Arbor that year. A 1906 biography of him states that "he removed to the city of Ann Arbor and there his wife purchased a residence which he made his home until the time of his death, enjoying in well earned ease the fruits of his former toil." The house remained in the Rice family until about the time of World War I, after which it was rented and its tenants changed every decade.

In the late 1940s, it was purchased by the present owner who has maintained the seven room house in pristine condition, preserving original brackets and the heavy brick arches over the windows. The woodwork in the two downstairs parlors has been refinished after seven layers of paint were removed. Recognizing that these efforts were a contribution to the entire community of Ann Arbor, the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission awarded the owner a Preservation Award in 1988 for keeping this "gem" in top-notch condition.


Article Keywords: Houses, Italianate Architecture, John George Koch House, Preservation Award
People: John George Koch, Sarah Rice, William Rice
Places: 530 S Division St
Date: 1874

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.

| Report Problem

Ottmar Eberbach House, 1875


Ottmar Eberbach House, 1875

402 South Fourth Avenue

Ottmar Eberbach House, 1875

Ottmar Eberbach, like his pharmacist father, Christian, received his professional education in Germany. Returning to Ann Arbor, he joined the firm of Eberbach and Sons, manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and scientific equipment.

When Ottmar married Katherine Haller in 1870, he began to build this red brick Queen Anne house. Cherry panels were used for the interior trim and the house was furnished with six handsomely decorated fireplaces. The finest of these, the parlor mantel, was removed with the permission of the Eberbach family when the house was occupied by the Harris Tire Company many years later. Efforts to locate it have been unsuccessful.

The original lot is still defined by two "rustic" iron hitching posts, one at the corner and the other at the far side of an adjacent house which occupies what was the Eberbach garden area.

At the turn of the century, the intersection of Fourth and William was a distinguished residential area, with a fine home on each corner. By 1908, however, the DeFries home on the northwest corner had been converted to the Alpha Hotel-Boarding; the southeast corner home had become the Ann Arbor Sanitarium (now Muehlig's Funeral Home); the Bach house was on the lot now occupied by the Ann Arbor Y. Although the tire company began use of the house in 1928, the Eberbach family retained ownership until 1974. The beer depot addition was made in 1938. The house is now a multifamily conversion.


Article Keywords: Harris Tire Company, Ottmar Eberbach House, Queen Anne Style Architecture, The Beer Depot
People: Katherine Haller Eberbach, Ottmar Eberbach
Places: 402 S Fourth Ave
Date: 1875

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.

| Report Problem

First Congregational Church, 1872-1876


First Congregational Church, 1872-1876

608 East William Street

First Congregational Church, 1872-1876
Creator: Lloyd, Gordon W.

The First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor was organized on March 23, 1847. According to the 1947 history of the church written by Calvin O. Davis, "...its founding was the result of a schism within the membership of the local Presbyterian Church, the separation taking place primarily in protest against the stand maintained by that church on the question of Negro slavery." The secession was led by a small group of liberals who also differed with the Presbyterians on questions of faith and dogma. In 1849 they built a church on Washington Street at Fifth Avenue, but by March of 1870, having outgrown their church building, they voted to build a new one. They chose the corner of State and William Streets, and in June of 1872 the cornerstone was laid. The dedication of the finished church was held on May 10, 1876.

Detroit architect Gordon W. Lloyd, also the designer of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, chose the Gothic style in multi-colored cut fieldstone and Indiana limestone. The elaborate slate roof with lozenge motifs in contrasting colors is a hallmark of the Gothic style, as are the wooden hammer or collar beams on the inside. In 1942 the interior of the building was refurbished, and in 1946 stone entrance steps and 21 stained glass windows were added. Dr. Leonard Parr began the effort to add a parish house to the original building. Its cornerstone was laid on May 10, 1951.

The Douglas Memorial Chapel, named after Dr. Lloyd C. Douglas, minister of the church from 1916 to 1921, and the parish house were designed by University of Michigan Professor of Architecture Ralph Hammett and completed in 1953. Famous for his preaching abilities, Douglas was also the author of two popular novels, The Robe and Magnificent Obsession, which were later made into movies.

In 1986 the church completed a three-year renovation, which included the restoration of the collar beams in the main sanctuary, the installation of the Wilhelm Tracker Pipe Organ, and a ramp and elevator for handicap access.

The church complex is of remarkable beauty and interest. It graces a major traffic corner and provides a balance to the University campus just across the street, as well as a fitting transition to the State Street commercial district to the north.


Article Keywords: Churches, First Congregational Church, Gothic Revival Architecture, Lloyd Douglas Memorial Chapel, Wilhelm Tracker Pipe Organ
People: Gordon W. Lloyd, Ralph Hammett
Places: 608 E William St
Date: 1876

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.

| Report Problem

DKE Shant (Delta Kappa Epsilon), 1878


DKE Shant (Delta Kappa Epsilon), 1878

611 East William Street

DKE Shant (Delta Kappa Epsilon), 1878
Creator: Jenney, William Le Baron, 1832-1907

Constructed in 1878 by the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity as a meeting place for its members who lived in rooms scattered around the campus, this was the first fraternity building at the University of Michigan.

The "Shant" was designed by William LeBaron Jenney during his tenure as professor of architecture at the University of Michigan (1876-79). Later Jenney returned to Chicago, where he achieved fame for the pioneering use of a steel skeleton frame in the Home Insurance Building, generally considered to be the world's first skyscraper. The DKE Shant, built in what was described by Jenney as a thirteenth century French style, resembles the Grace Episcopal Church in Chicago, designed by Jenney a few years earlier. It is thought to be Jenney's only remaining work in Michigan.

After the Dekes' chapter house on Geddes burned in 1968, the chapter ceased to hold regular meetings and the empty Shant was repeatedly vandalized. In 1971 the late Detroit industrialist Wilfred V. Casgrain and other Omicron chapter alumni renovated the structure to function again as an on-campus club for DKE student members.

The original stone foundation, woodwork, and Jenney's characteristic brick work have not been altered. The building is a gem of nineteenth century Victorian eclecticism, having a basic Gothic character with Italianate trim. The interior is now contemporary. The high brick wall that was added in 1901 shelters a tiny marble tombstone in memory of the dog "Abe," the Dekes' long-time mascot.


Article Keywords: Delta Kappa Epsilon, University of Michigan - Fraternities & Sororities
People: Wilfred V. Casgrain, William Le Baron Jenney
Places: 611 E William St
Date: 1878

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.

| Report Problem

J. Frederick Schaeberle House, Circa 1880


J. Frederick Schaeberle House, Circa 1880

420 West Jefferson Street

J. Frederick Schaeberle House, Circa 1880

Particularly notable for its ornamental porch, gabled roof and fishscale siding, this inviting wood frame Queen Anne house was built about 1880 for the J. Frederick Schaeberle family.

Frederick came to Ann Arbor in 1853 at the age of nine. While a youth he worked in Christian Mack's department store, then made harnesses with his father. His leisure time was devoted to music, and he was sent eventually to study with a master in Chicago. He finished his education in Germany where he also found his bride, the former Katherine Kemmler. Returning to Ann Arbor, Schaeberle began a long and distinguished career as a music teacher. His music store at 114 West Liberty, which opened in 1896 carried musical instruments "from the best houses." Townspeople relied upon his piano tuning and his performing, which a biographer noted was "far beyond mediocrity in the interpretation of the masters."

After Mr. Schaeberle's death in the late 1920s, his widow Katherine continued to live in the house for a few years. Their son, Ernst, kept a music store in Ann Arbor well into this century.

In 1944 Jacob F. Fahrner converted the house to four apartments. Ownership has changed frequently and it is still a multifamily home. In recent times the house has been faced with aluminum siding. Its porch has been rebuilt with care to maintain the decorative details. It is a part of the Old West Side Historic District.


Article Keywords: J. Frederick Schaeberle House, Old West Side
People: J. Frederick Schaeberle, Jacob F. Fahrner, Katherine Kemmler Schaeberle
Places: 420 W Jefferson St
Date: 1880

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.

| Report Problem

John and Electa Carman House, 1880


John and Electa Carman House, 1880

114 North Ingalls Street

John and Electa Carman House, 1880

This transitional Italianate brick structure, built by retired farmer John Carman in 1880, shows traces of Gothic influence in the steeply pitched roof and elaborately pierced and cut wood trim under the front gable. A careful observer can see the outline of the arched windows that were squared off sometime in the 20th century when arches were no longer fashionable. The current porch was constructed in the early decades of the 20th century.

Carman and his wife Electa raised several children here. The most memorable in the community was their daughter Georgianna who was principal of the Fourth Ward School in 1883 and later became principal of the Perry School. Georgianna and her husband Hartwig Herbst lived first with her parents at this address and later in the house next door at 110 North Ingalls Street. The Carman family continued to occupy the house at 114 until 1909, when daughter Mary sold it to Charles and Anna Rankin. The house then served as a nurses' home until the late 1920s when Mrs. Bertha Edwards lived here with a succession of changing tenants in the other half of the house.

Despite many changes and additions, the house retains the flavor of the late 19th century and is well maintained despite its heavy use as a student rental.


Article Keywords: Houses, Italianate Architecture, John and Electa Carman House
People: Anna Rankin, Bertha Edwards, Charles Rankin, Electa Carman, Georgianna Carman Herbst, Hartwig Herbst, John Carman
Places: 114 N Ingalls St
Date: 1880

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.

| Report Problem

Ludwig Walz Grocery, 1880


Ludwig Walz Grocery, 1880

111 West Liberty Street

Ludwig Walz Grocery, 1880

This late commercial Italianate structure was built in 1880 as the grocery and saloon of Ludwig Walz. Born in Germany in 1843, Walz came to Ann Arbor when he was two years old. He apprenticed to confectioner Herman Schlotter-beck and then entered business himself. Walz remained here until 1892 when his son-in-law, Sid Millard, converted the building to a printing shop.

Until the 1970s the Millard Press was run from this address and from a small addition built to the east in the 1890s. One of Millard's biggest customers was the University of Michigan's Athletic Department. A wall of autographed photographs attested to his popularity with the home teams and Millard painted both buildings bright blue to show where his sympathies were. Upon Millard's retirement, neighbors Carolyn and Joseph Arcure bought the building and sensitively restored it, even retaining an old bake oven in the basement. In 1991 the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission presented the Arcures with a Special Merit Award for restoring the cornice using ornamental brackets from the demolished home of William S. Maynard at Main and William Streets.

The building with its fine restoration, is one of the best downtown examples of the late Italianate commercial style. It is characterized by tall narrow windows with segmental arches and keystones, a bracketed cornice and varying planes of brick corbelling under the cornice. The original storefront is one of very few remaining examples from this period. Attractive flats with flower-filled rear decks occupy the two upper floors.


Article Keywords: Commercial Buildings, Italianate Architecture, Ludwig Walz Grocery, Millard's Printing
People: Carolyn Arcure, Joseph Arcure, Ludwig Walz, Sidney W Millard
Places: 111 W Liberty St
Date: 1880

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.

| Report Problem