Hanorah and Ellen Morse House, 1882


Hanorah and Ellen Morse House, 1882

307 North State Street

Hanorah and Ellen Morse House, 1882

A dynamic woman named Ellen Morse was responsible for the building of many rooming houses along this stretch of North State Street in the 1860s to 80s. Local Ann Arbor historian Louis W. Doll quotes an 1879 newspaper article about her: "This [house being constructed"> makes the seventh large and commodious house erected by Miss Morse... [She"> is entitled to thanks... She is a business woman and orders all her own lumber... and personally supervises the erection of her houses ... in the words of one of our hardware merchants 'She is as sharp and close a purchaser as I have to deal with."

In 1881 Morse and her mother Hanorah purchased a large property on North State Street where she subsequently built both 301 and 307 in 1882. As with her other houses, the builder was probably William Lawrence, and the tenants were students.

After the Civil War the University of Michigan grew tremendously and, according to Doll, returning veterans boosted enrollment to over 1,200 making it then the largest university in the country. Morse's houses were designed to fill the tremendous need for housing and the fact that both she and her mother lived in them, moving often from one to the other, meant that they were constantly looked after.

Miss Morse charged $1.75 per week with the students furnishing their own wood for heat. According to Doll, she often did her own housecleaning and was a daily sight on State Street with her mop, pail, and brushes. Morse could have been a rich woman had it not been for a disastrous investment which left her almost penniless. Despite her near poverty, she managed to hang on to a few properties and live to the age of 87. She donated her last, and most permanent home at 419 North State Street, to the Sisters of Mercy who started St. Joseph Mercy Hospital there.

Miss Morse sold the house at 307 North State to Alexander and Lena Wallace in 1915. Their daughter, Minnie Wallace, continued the boarding house tradition established by Miss Morse. In 1970 the house was purchased from her estate by the Intercooperative Council for co-op housing. The esteem in which she was held by generations of students led to the naming of this house after her. Known for years as Minnie's, the house is a local landmark partly because the co-op's constitution requires the house to be painted purple.

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



Harvey Bannister House, 1858


Harvey Bannister House, 1858

903 East Huron Street

Harvey Bannister House, 1858

This simple brick house, with a pediment suggested only by its roof-pitch and cornice returns, is typical of the late Greek Revival houses built in Ann Arbor just before the Civil War. The building was constructed by local mason Harvey Bannister, who built it as a rooming house for University of Michigan students.

Until 1852 students lived in the University dormitories. That year they were notified by newly appointed President Henry Philip Tappan that they would have to find lodging and board within the community since their former living quarters were needed for classroom space. Howard H. Peckham noted in his history of the University of Michigan, Tappan "no doubt was aware that his friend President Wayland of Brown [University"> blamed dormitories for most of the evils of college life: temptations to vice from evil student leaders, the costs of building that should go into libraries and laboratories, danger of epidemics from contagious diseases, and imposition on the college of responsibilities it could not carry out effectively." Tappan also wanted to end the institutional isolation of students and make them community citizens. His new policy set off a building frenzy in many areas near the university, particularly in the area just north of the campus.

Bannister's is one of many boarding houses that sprang up in this area, historically the city's Fourth Ward. It continued to be a boarding house throughout the 19th and into the 20th centuries. In the mid-1920s, it was purchased by Catherine Meier who, with her daughter Joy Meier, occupied it as a family residence for over 50 years. In the 1970s it became an owner-occupied duplex, and in the late 1980s it again became rental apartments. Its classical proportions and details have been carefully maintained through all these years and it still retains its original six-over-six windows.

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



Thomas and Margaret Mitchell House, (Gregory House) 1848


Thomas and Margaret Mitchell House, (Gregory House) 1848

602 Lawrence Street

Thomas and Margaret Mitchell House, (Gregory House) 1848

Nestled amidst some of Ann Arbor's finest landmark oak trees, this structure was part of a group of stucco-over-brick houses built in this part of town in the 1840s (see Judge Robert S. Wilson House and Newton A. Prudden House). An unusual feature of this particular house is that the brick is adobe, an unlikely building material for our cold, wet climate. A few adobes exist in Washtenaw County, most notably those built by Stephen Mills, but only one other adobe is known to exist in Ann Arbor (see Newton A. Prudden House). It is thus a rare structure within the local Greek Revival architectural tradition.

After Henry Bower platted the east end of the block in 1844, naming the street "Bowery," Thomas and Margaret Mitchell purchased this lot in 1848. They probably built the gable-front structure with its triangular window and dentils under the eaves that same year. The Mitchells passed the house on to their daughter and her husband, Hubbell Gregory, who had come to Ann Arbor from New York in 1853. The house remained in the Gregory family until the death of their daughter, Jennie Gregory, in 1914.

Following Jennie's death, Horace Prettyman and his wife made their home here. They bought a small parcel to the west of the house and added the porte cochere. They also "bungalowed" the house in the then-current style by rounding off the corners of the window trim and adding porches with tapering pylon-like columns. Prettyman was a successful businessman who owned the White Swan Laundry and the Ann Arbor Press. He lived here until around 1945 after which Abbie Schaefer ran it as a rooming house called Abby House.

In 1961 the house was sold to the Intercooperative Council (ICC), the organization of University of Michigan student co-ops. They renamed the house Vail Co-op to honor their former President, Stephen Vail (Stephanos Valavanis). In 1991 Vail House became the only all-female co-op in the ICC system. Co-opers are proud of their historically significant house and have recently repainted it after extensive repairs to the stucco.

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



Waite-Kellogg House, 1838/1865


Waite-Kellogg House, 1838/1865

723 Moore Street

Waite-Kellogg House, 1838/1865

Behind its unappealing asbestos siding and fire escapes, this house is a gem waiting to be uncovered and restored. Built in approximately 1838 by Joseph Waite, it was originally two stories high and one room deep ???_ an example of the type of folk house known as an I-house. Although built as a private house, and adorned by a very handsome Greek Revival doorway, it soon became a rooming house for workers at the nearby Jones and Foley paper mill. Times were tough in the country after the Panic of 1837 and large houses like this quickly became a heavy burden for individuals.

A very individualistic citizen, however, saw fit to purchase the house in 1865 and enlarge it into its present Italianate configuration. This was Daniel B. Kellogg, clairvoyant physician. Dr. Kellogg was famous enough -- and his home was grand enough -- to be featured in an engraving in the 1874 Atlas of Washtenaw County. From this engraving one gets a true image of the treasure which lies beneath the surface.

Kellogg was born in Pittsfield Township to pioneers from Oneida County, New York. His first encounter with his "gifts" for clairvoyance (or "clear vision") came when he was 17 and encountered a traveling hypnotist. Kellogg was a quick study and soon his neighbors in Pittsfield visited him to "join hands, hear rappings, witness automatic writing and watch the parlor furniture dance as if bewitched." Word of his supernatural perceptions spread quickly and his diagnoses were often linked with remedies. He moved to Ann Arbor in 1865, set up his office on nearby Broadway, and did a brisk business in mail-order diagnosis, answering letters from all over the country and even from Europe. To keep up with demand for his services, he enlisted the aid of his brother Leverett and sold a line of "family medicines" as well, including Kellogg's Liver Invigorator, Kellogg's Magic Red Drops, Kellogg's Family Cathartic Pills, and Kellogg's Lung Remedy.

Unfortunately Kellogg's success was short lived. He died in 1876, at the young age of 42. Undaunted, Leverett continued to sell the patent medicines while Daniel's son Albert C. Kellogg continued to practice his father's unusual profession. An 1891 biography of Albert stated that he continued to manufacture Dr. Kellogg's Family Remedies, which were handled by druggists throughout the State of Michigan, and that his pleasant home in the old part of the town was where he and his wife "keep up the old homestead."

By the 1890s the house had once again reverted to a rooming house, and tenants came and went in rapid succession. As in the rest of the area known as "Lower Town," the decline persisted as businesses and residents moved closer to campus and to the thriving shops on Main Street. But the house did not go unnoticed. In 1936, Emil Lorch of the University of Michigan School of Architecture, noted the unusual entrance and added: "plus or minus good stairs, interior doors and trim." At that time the house was owned by Louis Goffe, a tenant for over 25 years. It remains a rooming house today.

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



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