George and Emma Wahr House, 1890


George and Emma Wahr House, 1890

445 South Fourth Avenue

George and Emma Wahr House, 1890

Four years before George Wahr constructed a similar high-style Queen Anne house on North Division Street next to the Wilson-Wahr House, he built this house on South Fourth Avenue near the intersection with Packard Street. Embellished with an elaborate display of the woodworker's craft, the house is detailed with carved barge boards, sunbursts, dormers, bays and gables, all blending together in a wonderful example of Victorian excess. It is rumored that Wahr had a feud with his neighbor who hung the wash out on a line to dry. This apparently upset him enough to move to the other side of town! (His increasing prosperity might also have prompted the move to a more exclusive part of town.)

Wahr's bookstore on Main Street became quite successful by the late 1880s when his name appears in bold letters in the City Directory. Four years after he built this house, he opened his second bookstore on State Street. It outlasted his Main Street store by many years, remaining in business until the 1970s. The first occupant after that was Border's Books, then a used and rare book shop.

Wahr sold the property to the Schaffer family who lived here for close to a century, which helps explain its intact condition today. George D. and Elizabeth Schaffer moved into the house in 1894 and by 1900 they had seven children: Anna, Bertha, Carrie, Elizabeth, Ella, George Jr. and William H. By 1915 only Carrie, Anna, and Bertha were still living with their parents and by the mid-1930s only Anna and Bertha were still here. In 1935, their mother Elizabeth, a widow, married the man next door, Mr. Frank Ohlinger, and moved into 451 South Fourth Avenue. In 1965 she was again widowed. In the late 1970s, probably after her mother's death, Bertha moved into 451 and rented out 445.

After Bertha's death, both properties were sold and the house at 445 was purchased by the William Johnson family in 1981. They did a major overhaul of the house, restoring it to its original splendor. They were recognized by the Historic District Commission in 1988 for their splendid efforts at reviving this glorious structure.

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



John and Andrew Jackson House, 1847/1863


John and Andrew Jackson House, 1847/1863

603 West Liberty Street

John and Andrew Jackson House, 1847/1863

John and Andrew Jackson wasted no time in purchasing this lot from William S. Maynard after he platted the land and added it to the City of Ann Arbor in 1846. It is likely they built the Liberty Street portion of this house sometime in the fall of 1847, for, when they sold the property eight years later in 1855, they tripled their money.

The south wing, which appears on the 1866 "birds-eye" view was probably added by laborer John M. Weitbrecht, who purchased the property in 1862. The Weitbrecht family occupied this corner until the turn of the century. The estate sold the property to John and Lydia Kuehnle (she may have been Weitbrecht's daughter) for $1400 in 1898 and it remained a single family house throughout the 20th century. By the 1930s it also had a commercial use. The rear portion facing Fourth Street housed the Lunsford Bakery, famous for its cinnamon rolls, from 1935 to 1970.

The main part of the house, which is clapboard, is the New England folk form known as an "I" house: two stories high, two rooms wide, one room deep, with a central hallway. The fieldstone foundation of this portion is much lower than the brick foundation of the south wing, where the land slopes away from the house. This rear section also has a central entry, but is only one story high. The four-over-four windows in the wing appear to be original as does the glass.

William and Susan Johnson, the present owners, restored the exterior by removing the asphalt siding and corrugated canopy that had hidden the classical front doorway and original clapboards. Today the Johnsons are extending the south wing and the house remains a fine example of the vernacular type of house built in the Old West Side up to the Civil War.

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



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