Eberbach Hardware, Northeast Corner, Main and Washington, ca. 1893

Eberbach Hardware, Northeast Corner,  Main and Washington, ca. 1893

As Ann Arbor grew, stores that once offered a variety of general merchandise began to specialize in groceries, dry goods, or hardware. In 1878 Christian Eberbach took over Widenmann and Schuh's store and turned it into the largest of downtown's many hardware businesses. He sold supplies to carpenters, painters, plasterers, and plumbers. On Saturdays farmers loaded their wagons with cowbells, pitchforks, axes, and machinery parts. Hardware stores also installed and repaired furnaces, roofs, gutters, and even locks. Eberbach's clerk, John Fischer, took over the business in 1892. As Fischer Hardware, the store moved to Washington Street and Fifth Avenue in 1937 where it lasted into the 1970s. Downtown's last hardware store was Schlenker's on West Liberty. It specialized in tinware and provided contractors and loyal customers with hard-to-find items. After more than a century in business, it closed in 1999.

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Christian Eberbach House, 1863-69

Christian Eberbach House, 1863-69

1115 Woodlawn Street

Christian Eberbach House, 1863-69

Constructed in the 1860s, this former farmhouse was beyond the southern limits of the city. The site was chosen so Christian Eberbach's children could benefit from an education in Ann Arbor and still enjoy the healthful air and active life of the countryside. Eberbach was already a trained pharmacist when he came to this country in 1838 at the age of 21. At first he worked in the W.S. Maynard store, but in 1842 he founded Eberbach and Company to manufacture articles sold by pharmacists and opened the Eberbach Drug Store on Main Street.

A pioneer of great industry, he not only presided over his successful pharmaceutical enterprises and a productive farm, but was also a founder of the Hutzel Plumbing Company and the Ann Arbor Savings Bank. An early organizer of the Republican Party, he was a member of the Electoral College which confirmed Abraham Lincoln's election. Christian and his wife, Margaretha (Laubengayer), had eight children, of whom five lived to maturity.

The house is Ann Arbor's best example of the Italianate Villa style, a T-shape with a three-story tower rising directly over the front entry. From the second floor a narrow winding staircase led to the children's playroom at the top. The windows exhibit formal treatment with characteristic Italianate corbeled brick crowns, but both the segmental shape of the crowns and the inset wooden enframements reflect Eberbach's German origins in use of the Rundbogenstil motif.

In one of the upstairs bedrooms there is a marble fireplace featuring a scroll keystone and panels with bas relief floral patterns. Under the parlor end of the house a large vaulted brick storeroom kept the grains and fruits of the harvest. Built in at one end is a brick chimney originally used for smoking hams.

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

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