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

AADL Talks To Wayne Kramer

While he was in town for the 40th anniversary of the John Sinclair Freedom Rally, Wayne Kramer, lead guitarist and co-founder of the seminal Detroit/Ann Arbor band, MC5, sat down to talk with us. Wayne discusses the early years of the band and the influence of jazz, Sinclair, and Detroit culture on their music. He also talks about his troubles in the years following the band's dissolution; his current work with Jail Guitar Doors and fondly recalls the concerts in West Park.

Read more about Wayne Kramer and the MC5 at oldnews.aadl.org and freeingjohnsinclair.org.

Photo by Robert Matheu

Attachment Size
AADL_Talks_To-Wayne_Kramer.mp3 24.8 MB

Culture Jamming: A Long View Back - A Panel Discussion With John Sinclair, Leni Sinclair, Pun Plamondon, David Fenton, and Genie Parker

On December 10, 2011, the 40th anniversary of the John Sinclair Freedom Rally, AADL invited former White Panther Party and Rainbow People's Party members John Sinclair, Leni Sinclair, Pun Plamondon, David Fenton, and Genie Parker to the Michigan Union for a panel discussion moderated by Professor Bruce Conforth of the University of Michigan Program in American Culture. These five panelists, central to the actions and ideals surrounding Ann Arbor's late-1960s counter-culture, reflect on what they called their "total assault on culture" during the late 1960s and early 1970s - what worked, what didn't, and what it means today.
View the video here or in other formats.

Photograph courtesy of Barbara Weinberg Barefield.
(Click image for a larger view.)

Michael Davis, MC5 bassist, dies at 68

Michael Davis, bassist for the seminal 1960s band, MC5, died last Friday of liver failure. The MC5's time in Ann Arbor as the propaganda wing for the White Panther Party under the management of radical poet and activist, John Sinclair, is documented in essays, interviews, and news articles at freeingjohnsinclair.org. You can learn more about Davis and the MC5 in author Brett Callwood's 2010 book, MC5: Sonically Speaking, a Tale of Revolution and Rock 'n Roll (we also have an interview with Callwood from 2010) and read a tribute to Davis at retrokimmer.com. The band's legacy is perhaps most memorably captured in the timeless photography of Leni Sinclair.

Ann Arbor Film Festival Archive

In celebration of the Ann Arbor Film Festival's 50th year, AADL has partnered with the AAFF to launch the Ann Arbor Film Festival Archive, an online collection of the Festival's history. Here you can browse through past programs or flyers and posters reaching back to the Festival's origins in 1963. The site also includes photographs, historical newspaper articles from the Ann Arbor News and Ann Arbor Sun, and interviews. (Look for additional interviews with past festival directors and visiting filmmakers to appear leading up to and following the 50th anniversary.)

If you have AAFF documents you would like to share - in particular, any from the few seasons we're currently missing - please contact us!

Celebrate 50 Years of the Ann Arbor Film Festival!

Friday, February 3, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Join Ann Arbor Film Festival executive director, Donald Harrison, and other voices from the Festival's past, this Friday evening as we celebrate the Festival's 50th anniversary with the launch the Ann Arbor Film Festival Archive. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the AAFF, Donald will present some behind-the-scenes stories from the longest-running independent and experimental film festival in North America. AADL staff will also offer a sneak peek into Ann Arbor Film Festival Archive, which launches that night. This website will provide access to historical Festival programs, flyers, posters, photographs, articles from the Ann Arbor News and Ann Arbor Sun, and other documents from the Festival's past. Light refreshments will be served.

Corner of Main and Liberty to Lose A Landmark

Parthenon InteriorParthenon Interior

Several local restaurants have recently joined the ever-expanding list of Ann Arbor's Lost Eateries. Champion House closed suddenly last week, as did Old Country Buffet over the weekend. But I was particularly saddened to hear that the Parthenon Restaurant, which has stood on the corner of Main and Liberty Streets since John and Steve Gavas opened in 1975, will be closing its doors. Later this year Cafe Habana, formerly located on East Washington, will be moving into 226 North Main.

The Parthenon has command of possibly the best-known intersection in town, located on the same corner as Cunningham's Drugs and Mack & Co. a generation earlier.

We found some articles, a photo, and restaurant reviews on the Parthenon in our Ann Arbor News clipping file and have digitized them here for you to savor. While you're at it, you can also read about the Flim Flam Restaurant, which recently closed its doors after 30 years in business. Don't miss the Flim Flam's recipe for their famous eclair!

Black and Blue: a Timeless Lesson

Join us at the Downtown library for AADL's screening of "Black and Blue" on Wednesday January 18th from 7:00-8:30 PM. This is the story of the 1934 game between Michigan and Georgia Tech. When the Yellow Jackets agreed to play the Wolverines in Ann Arbor that season, they insisted on one condition – Willis Ward, the lone African-American player on the U of M team, had to sit out the game. Ward's teammates - especially Gerald Ford, Ward's roommate and a UM lineman - were outraged when U-M officials agreed to the demand. The incident galvanized UM students and the Ann Arbor community, which held loud and vocal protests against the decision.

Willis was later inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. Read the article from the May 22, 1981 issue of the Ann Arbor News.

Ann Arbor Architecture Archive

Curious about the history of the homes and buildings around us in Ann Arbor? Be sure to visit our beautiful Ann Arbor Architecture Archive. Packed with a gallery of images and text about Ann Arbor's historic structures, this reference resource includes the full text of Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg. Learn about old local breweries that were wiped out by prohibition, the Ann Arborites who had peacocks roaming their lawn in the 1800s, and so much more. For example, every year people from around the globe make pilgrimages to Rocco Desderide's grocery store here in Ann Arbor without even knowing it. If you have visited Zingerman's Deli on Detroit Street, then you've been to Rocco's too. Built back in 1902 by Italian immigrant Rocco Desderide, the iconic brick-veneered building, with bands of corbelled bricks fanning out above arched windows, served as the home of the Desderide grocery and confectionery business until 1921.

To access the Ann Arbor Architecture Archive, you can always go to the research page and select Ann Arbor Architecture Archive from the Ann Arbor category.

henry simmons frieze househenry simmons frieze house

Freeing John Sinclair Website

Check out our newest local history project, Freeing John Sinclair: The Day Legends Came To Town, a website chronicling part of Ann Arbor's countercultural past - from the John Sinclair Freedom Rally and free concerts in the city's parks, to the CIA Bombing Conspiracy and the history of the Hill Street commune. The site includes original interviews and essays; historical photographs; historical audio files; and newspaper articles. You can also search or browse the full run of the Ann Arbor Sun, the underground newspaper published by the White Panther Party and Rainbow People's Party in Ann Arbor circa 1968-1975.

This is just the beginning, with photographs and more interviews to come. If you also have information or memorabilia from this period of time in Ann Arbor's history, let us know!

AADL Talks To Bev Willis of the Washtenaw County Historical Society

The Museum on Main Street is the most visible project of the Washtenaw County Historical Society. But there is much more the Society does to keep history alive in the county, including Washtenaw Impressions, a newsletter with feature articles from local historians like Susan Weinberg, family historians and history buffs with interest in everything from farm tools to heirloom toys. The Society hosts lectures, mounts exhibits and works with libraries and organizations throughout the county to share the Society's collections and knowledge.

Bev Willis, administrator for the WCHS, keeps it all running smoothly. Bev sat down with us to talk about her background in graphic arts, how she came to WCHS, Impressions and the history of the Museum on Main Street. Bev talked about some of the unique collections at the Museum and the people who visit, including the descendants of the original owners of the house that became the Museum.

Attachment Size
AADL_Talks_To-Beverly_Willis.mp3 24.16 MB
Syndicate content