Samuel Miller House, 1893


Samuel Miller House, 1893

1136 Prospect Street

Samuel Miller House, 1893

This house, which current residents refer to as "the castle" was built by Samuel and Harriet Miller. It appears to be modeled loosely after Design No. 27 in Goerge F. Barber's The Cottage Souvenir, Revised and Enlarged (1892). It is a particularly fine example of the Queen Anne style, with a very tall curved chimney enveloping an oriel window on the first floor. Adding to the effect of grandness is the conical topped tower to the right of the entry. The use of different materials and shapes of windows and roofs in odd relationships with one another adds to the effect of extravagance.

The Miller house site was created from the acreage of Christian Eberbach's vast estate on packard named "Woodlawn" since Harriet was Christian's sister. The 1874 map of Ann Arbor shows a tree-bordered drive running east from Packard to Eberbach's estate of orchards and gardens. The Millers' romantic Victorian house was placed on a hiltop at the edge of the orchard. Prospect Avenue was opened as an access road and the drive from Packard became a part of the Miller Addition to the City of Ann Arbor.

Although Samuel and Harriet Miller died early in this century, their daughter Aura lived in the house until 1936. Older residents of the area remember her, the orchard (of which a few trees remain) and a bog at the bottom of the hill which closed off Church Street in wet weather. Despite some unsympathetic alterations to the front as a result of the conversion to nine apartments, the house is still considered a major neighborhood landmark in the Burns Park area.

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



Katherine Staeb House, 1895


Katherine Staeb House, 1895

212 Third Street

Katherine Staeb House, 1895

This is one of the homes which makes the Old West Side an area of special architectural interest. Built in the Queen Anne style popular in the late Victorian period, this charming house is particularly notable for the contrasting geometric patterns in the wood siding of the upper story and for the ornamentation of the porch. Katherine Staeb, widow of J. George Staeb, was the first resident and continued to live in the house until the 1930s.

Present owner, Susan Fisher, is taking great care to restore and maintain the exterior wood trim. She is adding a kitchen wing on the rear with care not to impair on the two principal facades.

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



Hoelzle Meat Market, 1893


Hoelzle Meat Market, 1893

201 East Washington Street

Hoelzle Meat Market, 1893

The octagonal corner turret, crowned by a tent-shaped metal roof, has served as the signboard for most of the occupants since the building was built in 1893. The original Hoelzle Meat Market proudly proclaimed its occupation with a cow weather vane crowning the turret. Sun Cleaners and Laundry boarded up the original windows and used the side of the turret for signage. By the 1970s a short-lived business called the Dragon Inn added stripes, described by the Ann Arbor Observer as being "a psychedelic fantasy in wavy red, blue and yellow."

The building is a brick structure in the Queen Anne commercial style, with a large arched window taking up the second floor width on the Washington Street side. An 1893 photograph shows the newly finished structure in its original form before the bricks were painted. By 1913 it was Geisendorfer's Meat Market and in the 1930s it was the Washington Meat Market. A large portrait of George Washington was painted at this time on the Fourth Avenue side of the building, and this is probably when the building as a whole was first painted. The small brick addition at the rear along the alley was added by the mid-1930s.

By the early 1960s the building housed the Sun Cleaners and Laundry, in the 1970s a gem and mineral store followed briefly by the Dragon Inn. Harry's Army Surplus proved more successful, staying until 1990. Bob Andrus, Jim Davis and Tom White, who purchased the building in 1982, cleaned up the exterior and unblocked the turret windows.

Metzger's Restaurant, a next door neighbor since 1936, purchased the building in 1984 and expanded into it in 1991. "Metzger" means butcher in German and thus seems appropriate for this building with its butcher shop heritage. John Metzger, the grandson of William Metzger who opened the restaurant in 1928, attributes the success of the project to architect Paul Green, straw boss Russell Kaercher, and woodworker Wilhelm Roth of Saline (originally from Bavaria).

In May of 1991 the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission presented an award to John Metzger for excellent rehabilitation.

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



Patrick O'Hearn House, 1888


Patrick O'Hearn House, 1888

210 North Thayer Street

Patrick O'Hearn House, 1888

Patrick O'Hearn built this elegant Queen Anne house in 1888 in the side yard of his home at 206 North Thayer. With interesecting gables, different materials (clapboard and shingles), windows of various shapes and sizes, and an elaborate porch with turned columns and carved trim, the house is a fine example of the Queen Anne style from the late 1880s.

O'Hearn must have believed there was a rental market among the faculty for such housing, for his first tenant was Dr. Jacob Reighard, a Professor of Zoology at the University of Michigan. Around 1905 Dr. Reighard became the Director of the Zoological Laboratory and Museum and built himself a much grander house in Burns Park. After a decade with Reighard as its tenant, the house was rented for many years to a series of occupants until it was sold to two widows in the 1940s. In 1969 the owners of 206 purchased it, thus re-uniting the two houses under single ownership.

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



Jacob Hoffstetter House, 1887


Jacob Hoffstetter House, 1887

322 East Washington Street

Jacob Hoffstetter House, 1887

The Jacob Hoffstetter house is one of the most handsomely detailed of Ann Arbor's 1880s houses. A rare survivor of the nineteenth century neighborhood that once surrounded it, it is one of the best preserved of any age remaining in the downtown. Built of red brick and set high on a coursed ashlar foundation, its windows are capped by segmental arches and carved stone keystones. Oculus windows and kingpost gable ornaments with pierced trefoil designs decorate the front and side gables, while bracketed cornices crown the bay windows, all features of the Queen Anne style popular in this period.

The structure was built for Jacob Hoffstetter, who settled in Ann Arbor in 1854 with his parents, Christian and Mary. The family was among a large number of German immigrants whose settlement had a great impact on the early development of Ann Arbor. They were also part of a small group of Germans who converted to Presbyterianism shortly after their arrival.

Jacob Hoffstetter established a grocery store and saloon on Main Street in 1872, worked hard, and eventually became prosperous. Until the mid-1880s, he and his wife and two sons lived above the store. In 1887, he sold the family business and moved into this new house. One year later he rented part of it to the newly organized fraternity of Alpha Tau Omega, which made its home here from 1888-1894.

When the house was divided into apartments in 1937, a new entrance was constructed at the southeast corner. Though interior remodelling was extensive, much of the original wood trim remained intact. In 1980 the house was purchased and restored by Peter Heydon who also restored the former parsonage next door. Mr. Heydon was honored the next year by the Historical Society of Michigan for his work "in preserving and developing... historic properties on Washington Street and for finding an adaptive reuse for them."

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



Wirt Cornwell House, 1886


Wirt Cornwell House, 1886

1009 Cornwell Place

Wirt Cornwell House, 1886

In the 1880s when Wirt Cornwell constructed this brick mansion overlooking the Huron River, he had a magnificent view of an unspoiled countryside. An old photograph shows Cornwell's house with a large fieldstone porch and the new "clipped" or jerkin-head gable which still characterizes this Queen Anne structure today. Although the fieldstone porch was altered in the early 20th century, the house retains much of its original grandeur.

Like many Queen Anne houses from the 1880s, the building is fairly symmetrical with windows and doors of more or less the same size and configuration. Variation occurs in the numerous roof gables and complicated roof lines and in a less boxy floor plan than the earlier Italianate or Greek Revival styles. This house today is one of only two survivors on a street which originally contained 10 spectacular mansions built by Ann Arbor's late 19th century elite.

The Cornwell family owned paper mills in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti and had large real estate holdings in both towns. Harvey Cornwell, Wirt's father, lived nearby on Ingalls Street in a large house demolished for St. Joseph's Hospital in the early 20th century. He platted his land into Cornwell Place, which he obviously named for himself.

Wirt and Mary Cornwell and their descendants owned the property at 1009 Cornwell Place for nearly 40 years, after which their large house was divided into apartments. The Cornwell name has been perpetuated by the Wirt and Mary Cornwell Prize in Pure Science which is awarded each year by the University of Michigan College of LS&A to students who show "great intellectual curiosity and creative work in pure science." It was established by Irene and Alice M. Cornwell, both University of Michigan graduates, in honor of their parents.

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



Pardon Blocks, 1894/1899


Pardon Blocks, 1894/1899

219-223 North Main Street

Pardon Blocks, 1894/1899

An Ann Arbor booster publication entitled Ann Arbor Industrial Edition wrote in September of 1900: "Charles F. Pardon, Dealer in meats, provisions and groceries, 221-223 North Main Street. This business was established 7 years ago as a meat market and in 1898 Mr. Pardon bought the grocery stock of J. H. Miller and added it to this business. He afterwards bought the Eberhart Bakery, which he sold to his brother [Frank">. He also conducted a meat market at South Lyons for 6 years which has given him ample experience in his line. His stock embraces both staple and fancy groceries, meats and provisions, which he sells at prices which cannot be undersold in the city." It appears the family were quite active in the grocery business, for the same publication lists W. E. Pardon as a dealer in groceries and meats at 123 East Liberty.

Charles built his block in three stages, although the casual observer would think it one building. The first and northernmost part, at 223 North Main Street, has a date stone of 1894 in the pediment. The second portion, his brother Frank's bakery at 219 North Main Street, has a date stone of 1899 in the pediment, while the center portion of the building has a slightly higher pediment and a stone which simply reads, "Pardon Block." Though this section is rumored to have been finished last, the Sanborn Insurance Map from 1899 labels the central and southern sections "to be bakery" and "to be grocery," so perhaps they were built simultaneously. By 1916, after Charles Pardon had retired, G. W. Wagner's Meats was located in the corner store.

Charles Pardon was born in Ann Arbor in 1862 to parents who had emigrated from Germany a few years earlier. A 1906 biographer claimed: "no event of special importance occurred to vary the routine of life for Charles F. Pardon who like most boys of the middle class divided his time between play and work." Pardon apprenticed to a butcher and, after working in South Lyon for six years, eventually opened a market in his new building. His addition of groceries to his line of meats allowed him to expand to the second storefront in 1899. "As he has prospered in his undertakings he has wisely placed his savings in property and now owns considerable real estate in Ann Arbor ???_ the safest of all investments," wrote the same biographer.

The Pardon Block (or Blocks) were built of red brick and stone in a Queen Anne commercial style with arcades of round-topped windows on the second floor, square windows on the third floor, and iron cresting on the roof. Remodelings in the past had covered the stone detailing and brick walls with red paint and altered the original shop windows to suit the commercial styles of the 1950s and 60s.

In 1988, new owners Quinn/Evans Architects, specialists in historic preservation, rehabilitated the southernmost building demonstrating proper preservation on this highly visible street. Evans noted that when the building was painted the contrast between the brick and the stone disappeared. "We removed the paint and the stone popped right out." The Historic District Commission presented a restoration award to Quinn/Evans that year for their fine work.

One year later, Duane Renken of Renken and Co., a real estate and development firm which now makes this building its headquarters began rehabilitating the northern two sections. When the renovation was completed, the company invited Frank Pardon Jr., who was born 86 years earlier above his father's bakery, to come and have a look. "It looks real nice," he said. The Historic District Commission agreed and awarded Renken a preservation award in 1989.

Bakeries and groceries have operated out of these storefronts for most of the 20th century, but today the two northern sections support a restaurant while the southern section is for rent. With the recent restoration of the Old Post Office across the street, and the new Johnson, Johnson and Roy building around the corner, this edge of town is beginning to enjoy a renaissance. The Pardon Block has been one of the major catalysts for the revival of this area.

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



Reuben Kempf House, 1889


Reuben Kempf House, 1889

321 North Ingalls Street

Reuben Kempf House, 1889

Although most people are familiar with Reuben Kempf's Greek Revival house on Division Street, few are aware that there was another Reuben Kempf in Ann Arbor. This Reuben Kempf was originally from Chelsea, Michigan, and made his fortune as a banker. He built this muscular Queen Anne style house in 1889 and a few years later it was featured as one of the premier local residences in the Ann Arbor Headlight of 1896.

The house is the epitome of what one would call "Victorian." Built of brick on a high foundation, it has the asymmetrical arrangement of space and the use of various materials so characteristic of the Queen Anne style. These contrasting materials have long been hidden by a uniform coat of grey paint, however. The octagonal tower features a combination weather vane/finial with a crown and banner motif, while the two-story porch facing Ingalls Street has very unusual detailing with double balustrades, turned porch posts, and lattice spindle work on the upper section. Original porches on Queen Anne houses are extremely rare in most towns, and these are truly unique survivors of Ann Arbor's architectural heritage.

In 1883, Reuben Kempf organized the Farmers and Mechanics Bank, at the southeast corner of Main and Huron Streets, serving as its President until his death around 1916. His widow occupied the house only a short while after-wards, selling it to fruit merchant Albert Basso in 1918. Following World War II, Edith Hagerman purchased the house for her husband, Dr. George Hagerman, to use as his office since St. Joseph Hospital was then conveniently across the street. Eventually the Hagerman's moved into the house. After the Doctor's death, Mrs. Hagerman remained there until the early 1990s. In 1992, the house was purchased by a long-time neighbor who is now in the process of remodelling the house for commercial and residential use.

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



Farwell Wilson House, 1894


Farwell Wilson House, 1894

1335 Hill Street

Farwell Wilson House, 1894

Though the Farwell Wilson house was built in 1894 for a lumber dealer and his wife, Mrs. Wilson unfortunately was widowed shortly afterward. By 1914 the house had been sold to Professor Clarence Johnson and his wife Bessie. Johnson, who was Director of the Davis Engineering Company, lived here for well over fifty years.

We can get a feeling for the type of social activity participated in by upper class women from a 1911-1912 program of the Ann Arbor Equal Suffrage Club. The program lists the meeting of February 1 to be held at Mrs. Wilson's residence. It featured "Women, their Organizations and Why?" by Mrs. Field and "Great Leaders, Past and Present," by the President, Mrs. Plummer, with helpers. The club met, usually twice a month, both at members' homes scattered throughout the neighborhood (see 406 North State Street) and most often at the high school.

The house is a typical high style Queen Anne with a round corner tower topped by a conical roof and finial. Turned posts with brackets and unusual railings and foundation screening enhance both the two story front porch and the long porch on the east side. Alternating bands of fish-scale shingles and clapboard carry out the typical Queen Anne exterior decoration.

In 1970 neighboring Delta Unsilon fraternity purchased the house and currently uses it as an annex. The Ann Arbor Historic District Commission honored the fraternity in 1992 for the sensitive way in which it repaired and replaced the porches and exterior trim.

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



Albert Mann House, 1891


Albert Mann House, 1891

408 West Liberty Street

Albert Mann House, 1891

Built of brick instead of the more customary wood siding, this house has the usual Queen Anne characteristics: a very irregular and steep pitched roof, projecting bays on both sides of the house, and a fine turret with crenelated brickwork decorating the upper portion. The two-story porch to the left side appears to be original but has been renovated. Of interest, too, are the large oak double entrance doors and the "sunburst" design with which the carpenter decorated each of the two front gables. Note that they "burst" in opposite directions.

The area described as 'east by Allen Creek, south by Eber White Road (West Liberty Street), west by Lord's Estate, north by Territorial Road (West Huron Street),' was subdivided into residential lots in the late 1880s. John Koch, a builder, bought this lot and probably constructed the house which was purchased by Albert and Henry Mann in 1891. Albert's family occupied their castle-like house for more than forty years.

The Mann family has been a part of Ann Arbor from its early days. Albert's father, Emanuel, came to Michigan in 1830 at the age of 16. In 1842 he joined Christian Eberbach as a partner in a pharmacy and drug manufacturing company and later opened a drug store on Main Street. Albert and his brother Eugene eventually took over the store.

In 1958 the house was converted to a four-family dwelling. The present owner has added two dormer windows.

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



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