Alber & Co.


Alber & Co.

Alber & Co., one of the city's earliest blacksmith and wagon shops, once stood in front of you where State Street ended at Broadway after crossing the railroad. Factories, mills, slaughterhouses, and tanneries operated nearby as well as three spring-fed breweries. The Northern Brewery on Jones Street advertised "bottled beer in cases of 2 dozen or 1 dozen bottles, quart or pint, delivered to any part of the city." The spring was later tapped by the Arbor Springs Water Company. After the brewery closed in 1908, the building was used as a foundry for fifty years. It was renovated for offices in 1976.

Frame location: on Broadway Bridge

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Agricultural Works, 1866


Agricultural Works, 1866

In 1866 Lewis Moore and his son Eli began building an agricultural implement factory on the north bank of the river on the site of an old paper mill. By 1896 the Ann Arbor Agricultural Works, seen above in a fanciful drawing, covered three acres. It was one of the largest employers in town with a machine shop, warehouse, lumber yard, and its own railroad spur. The machinery was powered by water from the millrace, later supplemented by steam. The headrace ran under Broadway and the tailrace flowed out next to the foundry.

Frame location: on Broadway Bridge

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detail millrace map 1874


detail millrace map 1874

Detail from the 1874 map shows the millrace, the woolen mill, Sinclair's flour mill, the agricultural works, and the location of Moore's home. Slaughter houses owned by downtown butchers lined the bank downriver from the agricultural works.

Frame location: on Broadway Bridge

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Argo Mills and Agricultural Works


Argo Mills and Agricultural Works

Across Broadway from Argo Mills, the agricultural Works (right) made farm machinery, horse-drawn mowers, plows, rakes, and hay tenders. It was the city's largest employer in the 1890s.

Frame location: entrance to Broadway Park

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1870 map


1870 map

On this 1870 map, the mill race runs from above the dam, circled left, to power the woolen mill, flour mill, and the agricultural works, circled right

Frame location: entrance to Broadway Park

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Ann Arbor gas company, 1858


Ann Arbor gas company, 1858

The Ann Arbor gas company, established in 1858, built a plant to manufacture gas from coal at a site bounded by Beakes, Summit, and Depot near the foot of Detroit street.

Frame location: Corner of North Fifth Avenue and Detroit Street

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Miller's Planing Mill, 529 Detroit Street, 1874 (later the Treasure Mart)


Miller's Planing Mill, 529 Detroit Street, 1874 (later the Treasure Mart)

In 1869 John G. Miller built this large steam powered planing mill, which specialized in windows, doors, shutters, and gingerbread trim for the growing city. Detroit Street hummed with industrial activity that took advantage of the nearby railroad and lumberyards. Herman Krapf bought the mill in 1878 and ran it until 1905. Like Miller before him, he lived in the house on the left. E. J. Knowlton briefly rented space from Krapf to manufacture his nationally advertised collapsible "Universal Bath."

The automobile changed the neighborhood. A gas station replaced Schmidt's carriage factory at Detroit and Kingsley streets. At the Division Street end of the block, an auto dealership opened next to what had been the Ferguson Cart Company. In 1960 the Treasure Mart opened a consignment shop in the old mill. It was the first of many businesses that would become the Kerrytown shopping district.

Frame location: Corner of North Fifth Avenue and Detroit Street

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Ferguson No. 1 speeding cart


Ferguson No. 1 speeding cart

Ferguson's at Detroit and Division street manufactured road wagons, fine carriages, and horse racing carts.

Frame location: Corner of North Fifth Avenue and Detroit Street

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Hay & Todd Manufacturing Company, 1896


Hay & Todd Manufacturing Company, 1896

Drawing of Hay & Todd Manufacturing Company, 1896

Frame location: In Sculpture Park, southeast corner of Fourth and Catherine, facing northeast down Detroit Street

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View northeast from Courthouse Tower, 1879


View northeast from Courthouse Tower, 1879

By the 1880s the area between downtown and the railroad along the Huron River supplied lumber, carts and carriages, stone work, coal, oil, and gas. Business owners and workers lived nearby amid a changing ethnic and racial mix. Agricultural Hall (above center with awning), built in 1856 at the intersection of Catherine, Fourth, and Detroit, is the second-oldest surviving commercial building in Ann Arbor. During the Civil War the building housed the agricultural implement store and factory of Moses Rogers. The Soldiers' Aid Society for Civil War Relief and other local groups met in the large third-floor hall.

When the photo above was taken in 1879, John Finnegan lived upstairs in Agricultural Hall and sold mowers and reapers there, many of which were made at the Ann Arbor Agricultural Works' large factory just across the river east of Broadway. After 1892 the internationally famous Ypsilanti Jersey Fitting Underwear was made here when the building was one of Hay and Todd Manufacturing Company's factories. In 1908 the building became the White Swan Laundry, a name that stuck long after the use had changed.

By the 1920s much of the neighborhood industry was gone. Changes in transportation and power sources had reduced the need for suppliers to be near the railroad, the river, or the center of town.

Frame location: In Sculpture Park, southeast corner of Fourth and Catherine, facing northeast down Detroit Street

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