Joe T. Jacobs House (Muehlig Funeral Chapel)


Joe T. Jacobs House (Muehlig Funeral Chapel)

403 South Fourth Avenue

Joe T. Jacobs House (Muehlig Funeral Chapel), 1874, 1928

This brick house was originally constructed by local builder John Gates as a private residence for Joe T. Jacobs, a clothier. The house features pairs of curved brackets supporting the roof, tall windows capped by stone keystones, and small attic windows?????all hallmarks of the late Italianate style. Although partially obscured by the funeral parlor's additions, these original features are still quite visible. It was one of four high-style buildings which graced this intersection. Today, only this house and the Eberbach house across the street, remind us of this era of gentility.

Jacobs came to Ann Arbor from Ohio and started his clothing business in 1867. In 1880 he was nominated by the Republicans for State Senator from Washtenaw County. He was also a major benefactor of the Toledo, Ann Arbor and Northern Michigan Railway and helped it to succeed.

Jacobs sold his house to Dr. J. B. Lynds, who used it as a private hospital until he died in the 1918 influenza epidemic. In 1928 Muehlig's Funeral Chapel purchased the property and added the porte-cochere (covered driveway) and a large garage accessible from two directions. More remodeling occurred in 1951 and again in 1964 when the front portion was added and the parking lot expanded.

Muehlig Funeral Chapel itself has a long history. Florian Muehlig began a coffin and cabinetry business in 1852 in the upper floors of the 200 block of South Main Street. Today it is the oldest funeral parlor in the state and the oldest continuously operating business in Ann Arbor.

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



Philip Bach Building, 1867


Philip Bach Building, 1867

126 South Main Street

Philip Bach Building, 1867

A photograph taken in 1867 pictures this impressive Italianate block built at a cost of $20,000, and newly opened for Philip Bach's dry goods business. "Prices were quite high at the time and a single stair-case cost $500," a later historian recalled. The photo shows the original wide flat cornice supported by ornate Italianate brackets. The name, Philip Bach, is over the awning, and a large "Business College" sign above the cornice indicates the use of the third floor.

Bach formed a partnership with Peter H. Abel in 1867. Some years later the firm became Bach and Roath. Around the turn of the century, Bruno St. James, Jr., left the firm of Goodyear and St. James to purchase the store, hiring Miss Bertha E. Muehlig as the bookkeeper for the new firm. She took over management of the business in 1911 and in 1924 she became the owner of the building as well as the business, continuing to do the bookkeeping as before.

Bertha's paternal grandparents emigrated from Germany in 1840. A devoutly religious family, they were part of the early Lutheran congregation led by the Reverend Frederick Schmid. Bertha was certainly a successful business woman, but she was even better known for her readiness to provide food and clothing for those struck by misfortune. She became a special patron of the Patrick Donovan School on Wall Street, where the pupils did not have the normal advantages. When the Donovan School was replaced by the new Northside School, she donated the dining room furniture, a silver tea service, and an aquarium. Each year she sent the children candy at Christmas time and pencils on Valentine's Day. A friend of the ladies at the Anna Botsford Bach Home on Liberty Street, she remembered their birthdays and provided many necessities.

Bertha Muehlig received many honors in recognition of her services to the people of Ann Arbor. After her death, several local businessmen invested in the store, continuing the business as before and perpetuating the name of the kind and generous woman until the late 1970s. The store retained the interior decor and services of the beginning of the century, including a spring operated cash carrier system which was probably the last of its kind in the state.

The law firm of Hooper, Hathaway, Price, Beuche and Wallace purchased the building in 1981 for their offices. A thorough and elegant renovation was done, for which the owners received a Bicentennial award. Windows were unblocked and the original appearance was restored as much as possible, with an iron entry created to mimic the original store front. They have also kept the old elevator and the oak staircase inside. (See previous photograph)

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



Enoch and Keziah Terhune House, 1858


Enoch and Keziah Terhune House, 1858

406 North State Street

Enoch and Keziah Terhune House, 1858

This house shows the transition in architectural styles between the Greek Revival and the Italianate. In plan, massing, and square shape, the house resembles an "Italianate cube." Its central entry/center hall construction, engaged corner columns, wide architrave, and rectangular six-over-six windows (some still with original glass) all point, however, to a Greek Revival sensibility.

It was built by Enoch Terhune, whose wife Keziah purchased the property in 1858. Terhune was the son of pioneers from Seneca County, New York who had settled in Pittsfield Township in 1831 when Enoch was 14. He was educated in Washtenaw County and became a builder and contractor in Ann Arbor in 1842. In 1846 he branched out into agricultural implements and owned a "sash and blinds" factory on Detroit Street. The 1881 History of Washtenaw County states that Terhune was the first to bring planing machinery to Ann Arbor, "thereby calling down on his head the wrath of numerous workmen who thought this would spoil their business." After his first wife died in 1857, he married Keziah with whom he had one child. Terhune's grandfather, an ensign in the Revolutionary War, is buried in the tiny Terhune Cemetery in Terhune Park owned by the City of Ann Arbor and maintained by the Pittsfield Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

After the turn of the century the Terhune property passed into the hands of grocer Jay Herrick of Herrick and Bohnet. Mrs. Herrick was an active suffragist, as indicated by a program of the Ann Arbor Equal Suffrage Club from 1911 which lists a meeting at this house.

The house was converted into apartments in the 1950s.

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



Thomas Ready House, 1858


Thomas Ready House, 1858

206 North Thayer

Thomas Ready House, 1858

When Thomas Ready constructed this Greek Revival cottage in the late 1850s, its only neighbor was the former Ellsworth Boarding house up the street at the southeast corner of Catherine and Thayer Streets. Both were built after the University of Michigan decreed that students could no longer live on campus. President Tappan's edict in 1852 prompted a mad scramble by local citizens to accommodate the new demand for housing (see Harvey Bannister House). This overlapped with the expansion of the Irish community into this neighborhood.

The chain of title for this property reveals an almost unbroken string of Irish names, from Ready to Timothy Keating, James Evans, and Patrick O'Hearn. O'Hearn purchased the property in 1885 and his family owned it for the next 70 years. In 1888 O'Hearn built another house on the north half of this property (see Patrick O'Hearn House) which he used as a rental and never lived in himself.

Simple in shape and style, the main attraction of this clapboard house is its beautiful, intact Italianate porch with the filigree scroll work and thin chamfered columns typical of the style. Also characteristic is the absence of any porch railing. The house is an excellent example of vernacular architecture in Ann Arbor.

The current owners have taken meticulous care of their home and were given a preservation award in 1989 by the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission. They too are of Irish descent, though not related to the earlier owners.

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



UM President's House, 1840


UM President's House, 1840

815 South University Avenue

University of Michigan President's House, 1840
Creator: Lum, Haspier

This is one of the four houses constructed in 1839-40 on the new University of Michigan campus square as dwellings for its professors. Constructed by a local contractor, Haspier Lum, it was, like the other three, a two and one half story structure with a low pitched roof, a cupola, and a long, inviting porch facing the square. The interior, built in reserved classical style, had a central hall on each floor with two rooms opening off each side. The seven fireplaces which heated the rooms are still in place. At the back of the house were gardens, a small orchard and a stable.

The modest brick home, covered with stucco to resemble mortar courses, acquired its present appearance in the early 1960s when the upper half story became a full third story. The house took on an Italianate style, much in vogue at the time, with the addition of the truncated hipped roof, double brackets, and a balustrade replacing the original cupola. The artificial mortar courses were filled in. The four chimneys were unchanged from the original structure, and the front entrance of two Doric columns and entablature is believed to be the same. Indoor plumbing and a kitchen wing were a part of the renovation.

In 1891 a two-story west wing with a circular library and upstairs bedrooms was built, and the house was wired for electricity. In 1920 President Marion Leroy Burton replaced a small east porch with a sunroom and upstairs sleeping porch. During Alexander Ruthven's administration (1929-1951) a second story and rear study were added to the east wing. A glassed-in plant room dates from that time as well.

The President's House is the only building remaining of the original four houses and two dormitory-classroom structures and is the oldest building on the University campus.

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



Bell-Spaulding House (Tuomy House), 1854


Bell-Spaulding House (Tuomy House), 1854

2117 Washtenaw Avenue

Bell-Spaulding House (Tuomy House), 1854
Historical Society of Michigan

This is a well-preserved early farmhouse that reflects the change in local architectural tastes in the decade between 1854, when the rear ell was constructed for George W. and Jane E. Bell, and 1864, when the present front section was built for Frederick A. and Almina S. Spaulding. Its transitional Greek Revival style with Italianate finish typifies the better class of frame farmhouse of that period.

Some of the original finishes of the original Greek Revival home still exist: the wide floorboards of pine, simple baseboards, squared door and window en-framements, and stair balustrade. The additions, most likely built in 1864, overshadow the original portion of the residence in size and design. The formal entryway was reoriented toward Washtenaw Avenue with the construction of a two-story, Italianate styled block. Other additions made that year include shed-roofed extensions on the south side and another on the east extension, which was fitted out as the new kitchen. The back door was moved to an off-center location and fitted with a small porch. Several other modernizing changes have been made since that time.

Very little is known of the Bells except that they consolidated pieces of land in Ann Arbor township to create a farm, and they were the first to have an interest in developing the property rather than buying it for speculation. The Spauldings were descendants of early east coast settlers, coming to Ann Arbor from New York state in 1863. Since Frederick Spaulding was already in his mid-60's, they led a quiet farm life until his death in 1874. Two of the Spaulding sons became well-known in Ann Arbor, Frederick Austin Spaulding, Jr., as a Doctor of Medicine, and Volney Morgan Spaulding as a Professor of Botany at the University of Michigan and founder of the University Botanical Gardens.

In April of 1874, Patrick and Cornelius L. Tuomy purchased the 214 acre Spaulding farm. Cornelius L. Tuomy, one of nine children of Timothy and Joanna Roach Tuomy, was raised on a Scio Township farm where his father had cleared 367 acres in the 1830s. Cornelius lived as a bachelor on the former Spaulding farm for eleven years before he married Julia Ann Kearney, described by a biographer (Beakes, 1906) as a "woman of rare intelligence, social power and popularity." Cornelius was a good agriculturist with varied interests. He was a successful dairy farmer and, with Patrick, was well-known for his ownership and breeding of several prize race horses. His sheep were sometimes reported in the local press as wandering down Washtenaw Avenue. Two of their children, Kathryn and Cornelius W. (Bill) Tuomy, formed a partnership and as the city grew, they developed the property and sold insurance from an office in the house. In 1930 they built the unusual and picturesque fieldstone Tuomy Hills Service Station down the road at the junction of Washtenaw and the "cutoff" (Stadium Boulevard).

When Bill Tuomy died in 1966, his will provided that the house be given to the City for some historic purpose. On March 16, 1968, by agreement with the City, the executors deeded the house and two acres of land to the University of Michigan. The University furnished some of the rooms in elegant Victorian style and arrangements were made for the house to be headquarters for the Historical Society of Michigan and the Academy of Arts, Science and Letters. In 1982 the house was transferred with its contents to the Society. The Society has worked since on the total restoration and maintenance of the house.

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



Henry Simmons Frieze House, 1860


Henry Simmons Frieze House, 1860

1547 Washtenaw Avenue

Henry Simmons Frieze House, 1860

When Professor and Mrs. Henry Frieze located their country estate east of town on the main Ypsilanti Road, across from the J. D. Baldwin farm, they acquired seven acres with a fine stand of trees. Skilled stone masons from Guelph, Ontario, worked on the house, which features the soft colors and solid textures of locally cut stone. It is unique in the Ann Arbor area since few houses designed in the Italianate mode are articulated in such fine masonry work. The cornices, balconies and porch add elegance, charm, and a dramatic play of shadows to the stately residence. The generously sized rooms with eleven foot ceilings are finished with walnut and butternut woodwork. The landscaping is characteristic of the man for whom the house was built, for Frieze was devoted to nature and art and gave the turf, trees and rose hedges his personal attention.

When Frieze, a Professor of Latin at the University of Michigan, became acting president of the University in 1869, he sold the estate to "Deacon" Augustus Scott, a wealthy and retired gentleman from Toledo, who for almost thirty years made it the center of Ann Arbor social life. Scott added the cupola.

In 1898 the Frieze house was purchased by Horace L. Wilgus, professor of law. The Wilgus daughter married geography professor Stanley D. Dodge and they lived in the house, keeping it in the family until the William G. Shepherd family acquired the home in 1969. The Shepherds restored the slate roof and were active in a local group organized to protect and preserve the character of the Hill-Washtenaw area until they left Ann Arbor in the 1980s.

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



John Wagner Jr. Blacksmith Shop, 1869


John Wagner Jr. Blacksmith Shop, 1869

122 West Washington Street

John Wagner Jr. Blacksmith Shop, 1869

Blacksmithing and related crafts were already concentrated along Ashley Street (called Second Street until 1889) when John Wagner Jr. undertook the construction of his carriage and blacksmith shop in 1869. He was not only expanding the craft into more elegant quarters but was also carrying on a family tradition. His father, John Wagner Sr., trained as a blacksmith in his native Wurttemberg and was one of Ann Arbor's earliest blacksmiths, arriving from Germany in 1837. He lived kitty corner from this shop, at the southwest corner of Ashley and Washington. John Jr. must have succeeded at his trade, for the 1872 City Directory contained the following advertisement: "John Wagner, Jr. CARRIAGE AND BLACKSMITH SHOP, keeps on hand and manufactures to order all kinds of CARRIAGES, WAGONS AND SLEIGHS. Customer work and horse shoeing done promptly and in a satisfactory manner...Corner Washington and Second Streets."

By 1874, probably due to the Depression of 1873, the shop became the property of John Schneider Jr., another early German pioneer and blacksmith. In 1878 Schneider was in business with his brother Louis, but by 1883 he was by himself. Three years later Schneider's horse shoeing business moved around the corner onto Ashley Street (where Wagner's business had moved earlier), and the building was named the Union Hotel. In 1888 a bottling works shared this building with the hotel and by 1899 only the bottling works remained.

After 1895, the storefront portion was operated by Oswald Dietz as Deitz's Saloon. Throughout the 20th century, saloons and restaurants operated here under a half dozen different names: Barrell House, Dietz's Soft Drinks (during Prohibition), Flautz's Restaurant, Metzger's German-American Restaurant, Flautz's Cafe, LaCasa Restaurant, and Del Rio Restaurant and Bar, the present tenant. Charles Miller, in his 1982 biography of W. H. Auden, recounts going with Auden in 1941 to "the then popular Flautz Tavern" and having him comment, "This is all right, but isn't there a common place where, uh, the workers go? A kind of beer hall?" (They ended up going to another bar on Ashley Street.)

This commercial Italianate building is typical of many built just after the Civil War in Ann Arbor. It is of local red brick, three stories high, with a fancy bracketed cornice surmounting brick pilasters which divide the facade into three bays. True to the Italianate style, the upper story windows are tall and narrow and capped with curved window heads and keystones.

The ground floor facade was sympathetically remodeled in the mid-1970s. Using an old photograph, the new owners eliminated earlier changes inappropriate to the building's style.

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



John George Koch House, 1874


John George Koch House, 1874

530 South Division Street

John George Koch House, 1874

Showcased by its high-profile location next to Hanover Square at the intersection of Division, Packard, and Madison Streets, this brick Italianate "cube" was built in 1874 for John George Koch. Koch was a local furniture maker who had originally apprenticed in Germany. Like many other Germans in Ann Arbor, Koch immigrated from Wurttemberg in 1866. Also like many men of this era, he worked and traveled through many parts of the country including New Haven, Connecticut; Columbus, Ohio; and Dexter, Michigan before finally settling in Ann Arbor in 1872. For seven years he was a stockholder and assistant superintendent of the Keck Furniture Company. In 1880 Koch attempted to go into business on his own but soon teamed up with Jacob Haller in the firm of Koch and Haller, furniture dealers.

Koch sold the house in 1888 to Sarah and William Rice, a wealthy farmer descended from pioneer families of Washtenaw County, who had retired to Ann Arbor that year. A 1906 biography of him states that "he removed to the city of Ann Arbor and there his wife purchased a residence which he made his home until the time of his death, enjoying in well earned ease the fruits of his former toil." The house remained in the Rice family until about the time of World War I, after which it was rented and its tenants changed every decade.

In the late 1940s, it was purchased by the present owner who has maintained the seven room house in pristine condition, preserving original brackets and the heavy brick arches over the windows. The woodwork in the two downstairs parlors has been refinished after seven layers of paint were removed. Recognizing that these efforts were a contribution to the entire community of Ann Arbor, the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission awarded the owner a Preservation Award in 1988 for keeping this "gem" in top-notch condition.

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



David Hennings Cooper Shop, 1864


David Hennings Cooper Shop, 1864

417 Detroit Street

David Hemmings Cooper Shop, 1864
Ann Arbor Ecology Center

Barrel and stave manufacturer David Henning built this commercial Italianate building with its round topped windows in 1864 during the midst of the Civil War. Born in Ireland, he came to Ann Arbor in 1836. Enriched by lucrative contracts with the Union Army, Henning became one of Ann Arbor's wealthiest citizens.

In 1871 another business pioneer Moses Rogers bought the building. Rogers had operated a large and successful agricultural implements business at 201 Catherine throughout the 1860s. Feeling the need to slow down, he went into partnership with John Treadwell in 1867, expecting that Treadwell would be the proprietor and he would provide "aid and experience."

After a disastrous fire destroyed their inventory, Rogers purchased the Henning building and started in business all over again at the age of 61. Rogers banked on his good reputation and his well known civic activities, especially for Civil War Relief. He continued here in business until his death in 1888, after which his daughter Katie continued to run the store, giving up her own career as a well-known artist and portrait painter. She sold the business in 1895 and died six years later.

The building's condition declined, along with the rest of the neighborhood, throughout the 20th century. Over the years it served as a warehouse, a creamery, a machine shop, a pattern works, and an art gallery. Yet despite its many changes of ownership it was never seriously altered and still retains its original wavy, hand-blown glass in the windows.

In the 1960s Travis and Demaris Cash purchased the building and began to rehabilitate it, preserving its fine original details. The Cashes salvaged the wrought iron fence from the old Rominger property on South Fifth Avenue when that house was torn down for the Ann Arbor Public Library parking lot. Their long-time tenant has been the Ann Arbor Ecology Center whose flagship office has been here since 1970. In 1976 the preservation efforts of the Cashes were cited with an award from the Ann Arbor Bicentennial Commission.

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



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