706 West Liberty Street
John Christian Burkhart House, 1867
Charly Rieckhoff purchased the John Christian Burkhart home in the late 1980s and discovered the outline of an earlier porch when he removed the wide aluminum siding. With the aid of a neighbor's old snapshot and the scars left on the clapboard, Rieckhoff began his transformation of this center-entry Italianate structure. Using skills he acquired while working with his father on old houses, he added insulation and replaced the clapboard with new redwood the same width. He even crafted the trim by hand to match the outlines of the original woodwork uncovered when the siding was removed.
This was in keeping with the tradition established by Burkhart, a German carpenter and skilled cabinetmaker who reportedly moved to Ann Arbor from his farm in 1848 to help construct the first Bethlehem Church. Margaret Murawski, in a 1968 article in the Huron Valley Ad-visor, claimed that Burkhart built this house and the church in the same year. Since this house dates to 1867, this oral tradition probably refers to another house Burkhart owned across the street at 707 West Liberty.
After her father's death in the 1880s, John's youngest daughter Mary remained to take care of her mother and then lived there with her husband Christian Overbeck after their marriage. They raised their two children here and one son, Erwin, owned and operated Overbeck's Books on South University for half a century. Casper Enkemann, Chief of Police in Ann Arbor from 1948-1960, later purchased the house and lived here with his wife Gladys until his death in 1982.
When Rieckhoff completed the exterior restoration he began to work on the interior and then on the grounds. With the help of landscape historian Scott Kunst he has added an authentic 1870s garden to the front yard, and built a wooden picket fence to enclose it. In 1990 Rieckhoff was given a Rehabilitation Award by the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission.