Panel Information: Main Street Shopping Expands

In 1871 tavern keeper and developer Henry Binder replaced the old house on this corner with an elaborate three-story brick building (inset above left). Plank sidewalks, hitching posts, dirt streets, and gas lamps were typical of the era. As downtown expanded southward, more Main Street houses were replaced by commercial blocks. Binder and his family lived on the second floor of his new building, above his "billiard, lager, beer, and refreshment saloon." The hall on the third floor had an orchestrion, a large music box that played several instruments.

Panel Information: At Home in the 19th Century

Civic leader Silas Douglass, dean of the UM medical faculty and twice mayor of Ann Arbor, lived in this home at 502 East Huron Street from 1848 until 1902. His three daughters, Kate, Marie, and Louise, shown here around 1890, enjoyed the luxuries of privileged America. Kate wrote in her reminiscences, "Ann Arbor society was unusually good for a small place. There were many tea parties where both gentlemen and ladies were invited. They sat around little tables enjoying the good supper and pleasant talk. They often had dances in private homes. There were many tableaux too, which we had in our bay window." In contrast, Harriet Noble recalled that when she arrived from New York State in late 1824, "there were six or seven log huts occupied by as many inmates as could crawl into them."

Panel Information: The 19th Century Neighborhood

Most of the 19th-century homes and churches built between downtown (upper left) and UM campus (lower right) have been lost to 20th-century commercial expansion. In what was once a neighborhood of quiet, unpaved tree-lined streets, residents could walk everywhere—to work, to shop, or to worship. Mansions that lined East Huron succumbed to gas stations, parking lots, and large buildings that dominated what became a major auto artery. On North Division, out of the path of development, some grand homes still remain, now protected in a historic district. Once one of the most fashionable parts of town, its houses had extensive grounds, richly adorned with flowers and trees.

Panel Information: A Corner Landmark on Huron and North Fourth

The Hamilton Block, later known as the Cornwell Building, was built in 1882 across from the Cook House Hotel. The first floor housed the Postal Telegraph Cable the 1890s, a bowling alley for a time, and later the Cornwell Coal Co. When Register Publishing Co. occupied space, it claimed to employ "more hands than all other printing establishments in Ann Arbor combined." Joe Parker opened a popular cafe there during Prohibition. For many years the third floor was a drill hall for Company A of the Michigan National Guard. It later housed an I.O.O.F. temple and a Greek Orthodox church. The building was torn down to make way for a gas station in 1936.


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Photos Courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library

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Fire Department Hook-and-Ladder, ca.1910Panel InformationThe Cornwell Building, early 1930sThe Postal Telegraph Cable Co., ca. 1890ticket to an Armory Hall Social Hop, 1881Artwork for Social Hop ticket, 1881The Hamilton Block from Huron and Main streets

Panel Information: The Changing face of North Forth Avenue

When A.V. Robison & Son’s Livery and Hack Stable advertised "Best Carriages in the City for Funerals" in 1872, the building that had housed the Goodrich House Hotel still stood just down the street. The YMCA was built on the hotel site in 1904. The hack stable --by then operating as an auto garage-- is visible behind Van’s Marine Band and the Boy Scouts parade banner in the 1916 photograph above.

Women workers watched through windows from the Washtenaw Abstract office on the right -- a building that still stands today with the addition of a 1927 Art Deco façade. Ann Arbor’s Farmers' Market had its origin in 1919 when ten farmers began selling produce directly from wagons and trucks on the Main St. side of the Courthouse. As the number of farmers increased, this "curb market" was moved to North Fourth Ave.


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Photos Courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library and Ruth Green Spann

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The Farmers  MarketJames Toby Green, with his wife Ruth and sister OrahPanel Informationline drawing of A.V. Robison & Son's Livery and Hack StableA.V. Robinson & Sons Livery and Hack StablesThe Offices Of Washtenaw Abstract, ca. 1915Van's Marine Band and Boy Scouts of America

Panel Information: A Meeting Place for Ann Arbors Black Community

In 1921 the Colored Welfare League bought the Kayser Block on North Fourth Ave. (above right) and used it as a center to help settle black workers who migrated to Ann Arbor in the 1920s. It gradually became an African American community center and a gathering place for social and fraternal groups. It was also used for commercial undertakings and as a residence.

The Greek Revival building on the northwest corner of Ann St. and Fourth Ave. (above center) was Ann Arbor's fourth post office from 1841 to 1853. Early abolitionist meetings were held on the second floor.It later served as a flour and seed store, a bakery, and a confectionery before being demolished in 1930 to make way for a gas station.


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Photos Courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library and the Ann Arbor Community Center

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Kayser Block, 1899Panel InformationReverend Ralph M. GilbertThe corner of Ann St. & Fourth Ave

Panel Information: A Former Bank and Estate on Ann Street

In the northeast corner of Ann St. and Fourth Ave. is the structure built in 1836 to house the short-lived Bank of Washtenaw . A stuccoed Greek Revival building, it was remodeled as a residence in 1847 for local businessman Volney Chapin, whose family lived there for almost thirty years.

It continued to play a role in the life of Courthouse Square as it was adapted for a sequence of businesses, including the Catalpa Hotel, Joe Parker's Saloon, the Chamber of Commerce, many service and welfare organizations, the local bus station, and the Peters Hotel.

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