The State Theater ~ State of the Art Movie House

The opening of a new movie theater is always a big news item but it was especially noteworthy for the State Theater. The State opened in the midst of World War II when Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County were focused on their role of building bombers and equipment for the United States military. The building of the theater was announced in November, 1940 with a planned opening date of August 1941. When the theater finally opened in March, 1942, the Ann Arbor News devoted an entire section of the March 17th issue to the gala event.

The section included articles on the Butterfield Company and its founder, W. S. Butterfield. The News reported on the modern equipment, the modern design, the modern screen, even the cooling system. The building of the State involved 35 companies, including many local firms. To make way for the theater, six businesses were removed. Butterfield moved Majestic Theater manager Larry Mull and his staff to the State.

Local businesses took out dispaly ads welcoming the State, and the PR machine of the movie studios went into high gear sending telegrams from stars like Clark Gable, Norma Shearer and Mickey Rooney congratulating the State. The opening movie was The Fleet's In starring Dorothy Lamour and William Holden. The News even reached back into their archives to recount the famous student riot of 1908 at the Star Theater.

Grace Shackman's Then & Now article on the Whitney Theater fills in the local theater scene. Old News had published articles on many of Ann Arbor's theaters.

The Gardens of Ann Arbor - A Walk Through the History of the Ann Arbor Garden Club

For more than 80 years the Ann Arbor Garden Club has been beautifying the public and private lands of Ann Arbor. Old News is launching a new Feature on the history of the AAGC this Wednesday, Septemeber 11, at 7:00 p.m. at the Pittsfield Branch Library. Grace Shackman's article highlights the Garden Club's commitment to their original mission, to assist the citizens of Ann Arbor to grow a beautiful city through education, outreach, community service and public events. The Feature includes hundreds of articles and photos from the archives of the Ann Arbor News.

The Battle On Broadway Hill: When The Soap Box Derby Came To Ann Arbor

In 1936 the Ann Arbor Daily News and Chevrolet brought the Soap Box Derby to Ann Arbor, promoting the race with page one stories, plenty of pictures of local boys and display ads meant to entice every boy in the county to enter the Derby. Officials were appointed, the rules explained and the "long, smooth and straight" Broadway Hill named as the site of the race. The lead-up to the race gave News photographers plenty of display space for their pictures of local hopefuls building and testing their cars. More than 6,000 fans watched John Mayfield win the inaugural Battle on Broadway Hill. In 1937, the page one story promoting the Soap Box Derby was bigger, the coverage more extensive and the prizes offered by local merchants really cool. The Chief of Police talked crowd control as race day on Broadway Hill approached. Controversy over his residency did not stop Merlin Hahn from winning the 1937 crown. Although there was plenty of interest by young girls in the race, the Soap Box Derby did not allow girls to compete until 1971. Enjoy the articles and pictures and, if you can, help us solve the mystery: who is Babs?

Update! Turns out "Babs" is the name of the car piloted by 1938 Soap Box Derby winner Lynn Smith and he named the winning car after his sister, Babs Smith. In an interview granted to the News after his victory, Lynn tells all.

You Call This Hot, Sonny?

On Wednesday, July 8, 1936, the temperature in Ann Arbor reached 100 degrees. Thursday no relief was in sight so the kids took to the water. By Friday area residents were being felled by the high temperatures. On Saturday, July 11, the weatherman forecast a break in the weather, but he was wrong. The next day temperatures again reached 100. On Tuesday the weatherman again forecast a break in the weather and Wednesday, July 15, relief finally arrived. The two consecutive days of 100+ degrees set a record for Ann Arbor. The high temperature record, however, had been set in July, 1934, 105.2 degrees.

AADL Talks To Herb David

On April 12, 1962, the Herb David Guitar Studio opened in a basement on South State and one of the great success stories in Ann Arbor and the music business began. AADL talked to Herb David shortly after the closing of his landmark studio on East Liberty, almost 51 years to the day the studio opened. Herb's influence extends beyond the students he taught to love music, the musicians who bought his handmade instruments, the local bands he nurtured and promoted, to the top musicians that visited his studio to talk "shop" and discovered David's wide range of interests in philosophy, cultures and travel. Herb's genuine concern for his community and the power of music to transform lives as well as his great sense of humor shine through in this podcast.

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AADL_Talks_To-Herb_David.mp3 18.4 MB

Tonight: Townie Trivia Night at LIVE: Show Off Your Weird Ann Arbor Knowledge!

UFO SketchUFO SketchThursday, June 13 | 7-9pm | Live, 102 S. 1st Street | Adult

Think you're an expert on all things Ann Arbor? Love trivia, but looking for something that hits a little closer to home than general pop-culture quiz nights? Join us at Live, just a few blocks from the library, for our own version of a pub quiz!

Whether you're a history buff or just think you're hot stuff at searching, AADL's Townie Trivia is your chance to show off your deep local knowledge, learn tidbits about the wild and weird parts of A2's past (complete with photos from our Old News archives), and perhaps enjoy a frosty beverage, while leaving the other trivia buffs in the dust.

The set-up for Townie Trivia is a little different than you might be used to at other trivia events. While some pub quizes make you leave your smartphone at the door, we'll actually be providing each team with a dedicated iPad for research and scoring.

Use a combination of old-timer knowledge and tech savvy to show the other teams who's boss. Show up with an already-formed group of 4-5 members, or go solo -- either is OK. Although the event is intended for adults, all ages are welcome, so if you have a sharp teen who's a potential team member, bring them along!

At the end of the night, we'll have prizes for the winning and runner-up teams!

Ann Arbor Resident's Story of Survival

A current resident of Ann Arbor has a story to tell about her remarkable survival during a period of tremendous upheaval and bloodshed a lifetime ago and an ocean away. Miriam Garvil's autobiography I Have To Survive: Miriam Garvil's Story is the culmination of twenty years' worth of work. Ninety-two year old Garvil, who resides in an assisted living facility in Ann Arbor, began writing with the encouragement of social worker Ruth Campbell, who continued to assist Garvil's work even after retiring herself.

"I Have To Survive" reveals the author's past growing up in Poland before the outbreak of the Second World War, and recounts her memories of the concentration camps Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. She lost her mother, father and sister in the camps, and recalls her promise to her father: "If you don't survive, I will survive for you".

You can find more information on Miriam Garvil and her story in this month's issue of the Ann Arbor Observer.

AADL Talks to Argus Employees and Museum Curator

Do you ever wonder what it was like to work for one of the largest employers in Ann Arbor and one of the most prestigious and well-known camera manufacturers in the world?

AADL talked to Art Parker, an avowed “Townie” who spent nearly 20 years with Argus Camera. Art talked about his family’s long history with Argus and the company’s social life that included Christmas parties, teen dances, summer camp, scholarships and profit-sharing.

We also talked with Milt Campbell, Art Dersham and Elwyn Dersham about their years at Argus during its heyday in the 1940s and 50s and the challenging years of the 1960s and 70s as the company’s fortunes declined and Argus left Ann Arbor forever.

Cheryl Chidester, the Argus Museum curator shared the history of the company, its products and innovations, and its role in United States’ victory in World War II. We also learned about the founding of the Argus Museum, its missions in preserving the history and material culture of this early Ann Arbor industry significant to generations in the community.

AADL Talks to Cheryl Chidester, Argus Museum Curator

We would like to thank the Argus Museum, located in the original Argus Building at 535 W. William St. for generously sharing its resources, artifacts, and archival materials in preparing this AADL exhibit on the Argus Camera, Inc.

A special thank you goes to Cheryl Chidester, the Argus Museum curator. In this podcast, she shared the history of the company, its products and innovations, and its role in United States’ victory in World War II. We also learned about the founding of the Argus Museum, its missions in preserving the history and material culture of this early Ann Arbor industry significant to generations in the community.

We can see photos of the Museum and its exhibits as well as samples of the Argus Eye, a monthly newsletter produced by the Argus employees from the Museum’s archive.

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AADL_Talks_To-Cheryl_Chedister.mp3 13.14 MB

AADL Talks to Argus Camera's Milt Campbell, Art & Elwyn Dersham

In this episode, AADL talks to former employees of Argus Camera. In 1931, a group of Ann Arbor businessmen got together to address the problem of unemployment amid the Great Depression. They raised stock and formed a company that would become Argus Camera. Argus went on to become one of the largest employers in Ann Arbor and one of the most prestigious and well-known camera manufacturers in the world.

We talked with Milt Campbell, Art Dersham and Elwyn Dersham about their years at Argus during its heyday in the 1940s and 50s and the challenging years of the 1960s and 70s as the company’s fortunes declined and Argus left Ann Arbor forever.

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AADL_Talks_To-Argus_Employees.mp3 15.21 MB
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