Workshop sheds


Workshop sheds

In 1902 Mayor Royal Copeland complained that the area where Alber & Co., the tannery, and the slaughterhouses had been was a serious problem. Visitors arriving at the railroad depot were confronted by "foul-smelling dump heaps" across the tracks. Copeland appointed a committee to purchase the property between the river and the railroad tracks that later became Broadway Park. By 1907 the city had acquired the land, but it remained overgrown and was long known as "Hobo Park" for the homeless people who camped there. It was often used as a shortcut from Lower Town to State Street. The park was transformed when the bridges were rebuilt in 2005.

It took the Parks Commission, led by its Superintendent, Eli Gallup from 1925 to 1934 to buy up a maze of small workshops and garbage dumps that had replaced the slaughterhouses on the opposite bank of the river. Gallup built Riverside Park there using workers from the federal WPA jobs program.

Frame location: on Broadway Bridge

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A 1956 Urban Renewal Plan


A 1956 Urban Renewal Plan

In 1956 civic leaders launched a plan, using federal urban renewal funds, to remove "blight" and rebuild this mostly black neighborhood. Many buildings around you were proposed for demolition. Both black and white leaders disagreed among themselves whether the plan would improve the neighborhood or destroy the fabric of the black community. At least 500 residents would have been displaced, 400 of them black. In 1959 City Council narrowly passed the plan, but newly elected Mayor Cecil Creal vetoed it as too disruptive.

Other forces changed the neighborhood. City Council passed a fair housing law in 1963 and a stronger one in 1965. The neighborhood school, Jones Elementary (later Community High), was 75% black in 1965 when it was closed and its students dispersed by bus to other schools in an effort at desegregation. By the 1970s blacks were leaving the neighborhood. The churches moved. In that decade, black and white citizens working together defeated plans for a downtown bypass that would have split the neighborhood.

Frame location: Corner of North Fifth Avenue and Detroit Street

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Elizabeth Brater, 1991


Elizabeth Brater, 1991

In 1991 Elizabeth Brater was the first woman elected Mayor, succeeded by Ingrid Sheldon.

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Guy Larcom plants a tree on Arbor Day 1965


Guy Larcom plants a tree on Arbor Day 1965

Guy Larcom (with shovel), Ann Arbor's first city administrator, plants a tree on Arbor Day 1965 as Mayor Cecil Creal (far left) and other city officials look on. In 1998 City Hall was named in Larcom's honor.

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City Government 1970s


City Government 1970s

By the late 1970s, Two African Americans ran city government: city administrator Sylvester Murray (center left) and Mayor Albert Wheeler (center right).

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Ann Arbor's first City Hall, 1907-1963


Ann Arbor's first City Hall, 1907-1963

Completed in 1907, Ann Arbor's first City Hall provided first-floor office space for expanding public services and a council chamber above. The eight-man Police Department had a separate entrance on Fifth Avenue. The Fire Department was already located across Huron Street in the landmark 1882 Firemen's Hall. After incorporation in 1833, the village council met sporadically in the Courthouse office of Ann Arbor's founder, John Allen, the first village president. Ordinances adopted at the first meeting dealt with matters of public safety, such as the discharge of firearms, and hogs and dogs running wild. In 1836 the village established a volunteer fire department. Putting out fires and providing cistern water to fight them cost over a third of the village's total 1848 income of $2,152. The village hired workers to ring the Presbyterian church bell to mark the hours, erect and light street lamps around the Courthouse, and repair the dirt streets. The 1851 charter made the village a city governed by a mayor and aldermen with enlarged taxing powers. The first paid police force was organized in 1871, funded by license fees on saloons and billiard tables, which were considered "sources of disorder." Until 1895 the city continued to lease space in the County Courthouse. Expanding services then made it necessary to rent offices on North Fourth Avenue in the new "City Building" and by 1907 to build a new City Hall.

Frame location: On City Hall lawn, northeast corner of Fifth and Huron, inside sidewalk crossing and south of large spruce tree, facing southwest

Collection info: Sturgis Collection

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Douglass House


Douglass House

Civic leader Silas Douglass, dean of the UM medical faculty and twice mayor of Ann Arbor, lived in this home at 502 East Huron Street from 1848 until 1902.

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Douglass Daughters , 1890s


Douglass Daughters , 1890s

Civic leader Silas Douglass, dean of the UM medical faculty and twice mayor of Ann Arbor, lived in this home at 502 East Huron Street from 1848 until 1902. His three daughters, Kate, Marie, and Louise, shown here around 1890, enjoyed the luxuries of privileged America. Kate wrote in her reminiscences, "Ann Arbor society was unusually good for a small place. There were many tea parties where both gentlemen and ladies were invited. They sat around little tables enjoying the good supper and pleasant talk. They often had dances in private homes. There were many tableaux too, which we had in our bay window." In contrast, Harriet Noble recalled that when she arrived from New York State in late 1824, "there were six or seven log huts occupied by as many inmates as could crawl into them."

Keywords: women, interiors

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Mayor's proclamation for 35th Street Art Fair, 1994


Mayor's proclamation for 35th Street Art Fair, 1994

Mayor's proclamation for 35th Street Art Fair, 1994

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Ann Arbor District Library



Ebenezer Wells House, (Wells-Babcock House) 1858/1910


Ebenezer Wells House, (Wells-Babcock House) 1858/1910

208 North Division Street

Ebenezer Wells House, (Wells-Babcock House) 1858/1910

This house was built for Dr. Ebenezer Wells, a physician, and his family. The mayor of Ann Arbor in 1863-64, Wells also became the president of the First National Bank, the first bank chartered in Michigan under the National Bank Act of 1863. He held that position until his death in 1882.

James L. Babcock bought the house in 1890 when he moved to Ann Arbor to manage the wool business of his uncle, Luther James. Past and Present of Washtenaw County (1906) states that Babcock paid some $10,000 for the property "which was surrounded by beautiful and extensive grounds, richly adorned with flowers and ornamental trees and situated in one of the most delightful portions of the town."

Luther James left a fortune to his nephew on the condition that he marry within five years. James Babcock met the deadline and proceeded to remodel the house throughout. Embossed leather wall coverings were imported from Europe for the reception rooms, as were carving, mirrors and marble. The Babcock coat of arms was done in stained glass for the windows on the north side of a rear addition. Elegant beveled and etched glass still remains in other windows and doors.

In 1910, after the death of James Babcock, a third story was added, and the mansion and carriage house were converted to multifamily use.

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Photos used to illustrate Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan / by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg.



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