Goodyears department store, 1939


Goodyears department store, 1939

Foster added a Tudor front before he sold the buildings in 1939 to Goodyear's, a successful downtown department store that wanted to relocate its campus store. After Goodyear's closed this store in the late 1950s, further changes were made to the front. Both buildings were broken up into numerous shops.

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Bach & Abel, Northwest corner, Main and Washington, 1886


Bach & Abel, Northwest corner, Main and Washington, 1886

Dry goods were sold on this corner for over 120 years. In 1867 Philip Bach moved his store to this new business block selling fabric, cloaks, blankets, linens, and notions. Ann Arbor once supported as many as fifteen stores selling dry goods. Before these shops began to carry ready-made items, most clothing, bed sheets, and household linens were made at home. Dressmakers, milliners, and tailors provided custom clothing. When Bruno St. James purchased the store in 1895, he employed Bach's young bookkeeper, Bertha Muehlig. Loved by her customers and employees, she owned and ran the business from 1911 until her death in 1955. Muehlig's specialized in old-fashioned, hard-to-find items like "Tillie Open Bottoms" (women's long underwear). William Goodyear, St. James's former partner, ran another dry goods business nearby. By the 1950s, Goodyear's had expanded next to Muehlig's to become downtown’s largest department store.

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Klines Department Store, 1930


Klines Department Store, 1930

In 1930 Klines Department Store took over the entire Pratt Block. It was the first chain store to challenge local businesses like Mack & Co. with cheaper, mass-produced goods. Next door, Sears Roebuck built a sleek new store in 1940. Until the 1970s Main Street was able to support both chains as well as Goodyear's, the remaining locally owned department store. Sears left downtown in 1974 for the Briarwood shopping mall. Goodyear's closed soon after. Left to itself downtown, Klines expanded into the old Sears space before closing in 1994. By then, most of Main Street's stores had been converted from traditional service and retail businesses to restaurants, specialty shops, and galleries.

Frame location: Northeast corner wall, just east of Main on Liberty

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Bank Block, 1867 (Goodyear's)


Bank Block, 1867 (Goodyear's)

120-124 South Main Street

Bank Block, 1867 (Goodyear's)

Shortly after it opened as the "Bank Building" in 1867, this structure was described as having "a freestone front, in which are large and elegant stores, and the First National Bank." The First National Bank was the first federally chartered bank in Michigan and only the twenty-second such bank in the United States.

As one of the new buildings in town, it showed "__ the magnitude and growing importance of this inland city" according to the 1872 City Directory. An 1867 photograph graphically illustrates this importance. It shows the building's elaborate central Gothic facade, intended to draw attention to the bank, its primary tenant. The pointed-arch windows and doorways in this portion contrast with those of the flanking buildings that have round-topped windows in the more common Italianate style of the period. An elaborate pinnacled cornice topped the bank portion of the building, increasing its visual domination on Main Street.

The building was known throughout most of its history, however, as the Goodyear Building or simply as Goodyear's. In 1888 William Goodyear and Bruno St. James founded a retail clothing business at 120 South Main Street. This business was to stay and expand into the flanking buildings until 1983, only five years short of its centennial. Initially known as Goodyear and St. James, it became Goodyear's in 1895. From the 1950s through the early 1980s, Goodyear's was the primary retail anchor for the central business district.

The closing of Goodyear's in 1983 for non-payment of taxes was a severe blow to downtown retail trade. Yet in 1984, spurred by tax credits for historic preservation and the goodwill of the community, developers undertook an authentic restoration of the building based on the 1867 photograph.

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



Bargain Days Carnival on Main St


Bargain Days Carnival on Main St
Caption: 
Carnival Time: A festive atmosphere prevails in the S. Main business area this week where more than a dozen carnival rides have been erected to entertain shoppers during Bargain Days. Soap Box Derby racers are on display in tents in the 200 block.
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Donated by the Ann Arbor News. © The Ann Arbor News.



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