Posts of interest to local history buffs, written by local history buffs!

Back to the New High School

skyline highskyline high

As Ann Arbor marks the opening of its newest high school, take a look at this 101-year-old photograph of the then-new Ann Arbor High School in 1907. It was the pride of Ann Arbor, with its attached Carnegie library, but as fate would have it everything but the library facade was torn down last year to make room for the soon-to-be North Quad dormitory. An earlier image of an Ann Arbor high school is this 1859 engraving from the Making of Ann Arbor collection.

True Confessions of an Ann Arbor Historian

History is boring. Local history is even worse. You must be a spectacular geek to be interested in, much less involved with, the local history scene.

Well, that might be true, but here I am anyway. I have loved this town for as long as I can remember and, like the people I love, I want to know Ann Arbor's whole story. That's all historians do. Fall in love with a place, person or era and find out all they can about it.

For example, what did Ann Arbor look like when she was a baby? How about as a teenager? I look at the book Historic buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan, by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg like an old family album. I study it and try to recognize something of the past in the town I know today. (FYI, if you click here you can look at this book online.)

I also like to hang around people who will tell me stories about when Ann Arbor was young. So imagine my delight when I heard that Kempf House is having a big ol' party in September. I imagine there will be plenty of folks there who would be more than willing to share a tale or two. There will also be food and beer so count me in!

See you there?

SEPTEMBERFEST

Date: Sun 7 Sep 2008
Time: 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Location: Kempf House Museum Garden
Description: Beer and brats! Four flavors of beer from Arbor Brewing, brats on a bun with sauerkraut and mustard, hot pretzels baked specially by the ladies at Bethlehem Church, and ice cream and toppings from the Washtenaw Dairy - all for $40 ($30 for members)!
Contact: 734-994-4898

Local Frank Lloyd Wright House for sale

Palmer House
Click image for larger view and the text from Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor.

The William and Mary Palmer House, Ann Arbor's only Frank Lloyd Wright house, is on the market for the first time and the asking price is 1.5 million. The house, at 227 Orchard Hills Drive near the Arboretum, comes with original furniture and a collection of Wright's papers, but there's a catch--the house must remain as-is. Find out more about the Palmer House through AADL's Ann Arbor Architecture Archive, which includes the entry on the Palmer House taken from Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Check out our new Research page

oedoed

We've made a few changes to the AADL Research page for better access to our many magazine and research tools. You can browse a new subject listing at the top, quickly scroll through a more detailed ABC listing, or jump right to our most popular magazine database. We'll be featuring a selection of databases in the right-hand column, and from the left-hand menu you can now click on A2 Facts for links to interesting facts and statistics about Tree Town.

"New" U of M Boat Livery on Argo Pond

Old Livery
Submitted by Wystan Stevens
Click image for larger view.

Removed from an old photo album, the card sold for $40 in an eBay auction on July 16, 2008. The new owner is an Ann Arbor collector who uses the eBay alias "cheer."

The U. of M. Boat House had a name that implied congeniality toward student patronage, but it was a private enterprise. Erected in 1898 (when he was 41) by Paul G. Tessmer, whose big house (now the Elks Pratt Lodge) later loomed above it, the Boat House was located on the North Main Street edge of Argo Pond. A short biographical sketch of Tessmer in Beakes' Past and Present of Washtenaw County, Michigan (1906) discloses that Tessmer had 160 canoes for rent -- all of them built by himself. He had forty rowboats, too.

Here's Tessmer's boat house, on the west side of Argo Pond.

The Anton Eisele House

Anton Eisele HomeAnton Eisele Home

Next time you're dining on the patio at Argiero's, look across the street at the stone lintels above the windows of the Anton Eisele House (216 Catherine), one of the few surviving buildings that illustrates Eisele's craft (another is 320-322 South Division) and his prosperous stone-cutting business that thrived on this block in the late 1800s. Eisele's home, built in 1869, and business are also featured in the 1874 plat map. When Eisele died in 1887, his stepson John Baumgardner continued the business, building a two-story structure across the street (demolished in the 1930s to build a gas station). The barn survives today as part of Argiero's restaurant.

Google Maps for Ann Arbor has Street Views

Google MapsGoogle Maps

Type in an address in Ann Arbor in Google Maps and you can now see the Street View.

Street View gives you a photographic view of the street and allows you to move up and down the block and to pan to the right or left and to zoom in on houses or businesses or pedestrians. The gas station at Packard and Stadium has gas for sale for $2.89/gallon so the drive-by must have been a while ago. It was garbage day at my house. You can see the garbage bin, the recycle bins, and the compost bin in front of the house. The addresses on streets are approximate so you may have to move up or down the block to find the address you are seeking.

Arbor Update has a blog about Street View. Trying to sleuth the exact date/dates seems to be one of the pleasures for users. Some areas appear to have been covered on a football Saturday.

Take a look. Interesting and fun. The Michigan Theater was showing Born into Brothels. You cannot quite read the menu posted outside Zanzibar. The Y is still standing across from the Downtown Library.

True Crimes of Ann Arbor

As crime dramas broadcast their final episodes of the season and channel surfing after 9pm proves fruitless, look no further than the Ann Arbor Police Department Online History Exhibit for murder mysteries that carry the added thrill of being true.

You can find this exhibit in our database collection, which can be accessed via the Research tab on this website. More than just a list of Ann Arbor marshals from the 1800s, the site also contains a history of some of the most notorious criminal cases in Ann Arbor history, including the 'Student Riot of 1908', 'The Murder of Officer Clifford Stang', 'The Co-ed Murders', and many others. Much of the history is written by Sergeant Michael Logghe, who published a book on the subject in 2002. The Library owns his book and the videorecording of his lecture at the Library in 2006 on DVD.

The Downtown library is also home to the Ann Arbor News on microfilm, where one can research the original news reports of these cases, and perhaps even be the first to write a screenplay based on these local events. Find these and other items on true crime here at the AADL.

Fire destroys Delta Upsilon fraternity

Delta UpsilonDelta Upsilon

A Friday morning fire raced through the historic Delta Upsilon fraternity at 1331 Hill St. Read the story on mlive. The fraternity was designed in 1903 and restored more recently by U of M alumni who valued the house and its history. You can read about the building in Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, MI, by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg, and zoom in for a closer view through its accompanying image database. (The text and images are available to search and browse online; the book is also available for checkout.)

Fantasy author and former Ann Arborite Robert Asprin dies at 61

AsprinAsprin

Robert Asprin was reportedly reading a novel by British fantasy writer Terry Pratchett when he died in bed last week at the age of 61. Asprin, author of the Thieves' World and Myth Adventure series, and the 1990 bestseller Phule's Company, is said to have effectively invented the humor fantasy genre back in the 1970s. Local historian Wystan Stevens recalls: "Asprin wrote many of his books in longhand, on legal pads, while nursing cups of coffee at the Brown Jug on South University Avenue."

Read more about Asprin in wikipedia.
Asprin's obituary.

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