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Ann Arbor Historic District Commission Announces 35th Annual Historic Preservation Awards

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May 31, 2019 - ​The Ann Arbor Historic District Commission will conduct its 35th annual Historic Preservation Awards during the City Council meeting Monday, June 3, 7 p.m. at Larcom City Hall, second floor Council chambers. Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor will present recipients with their awards and extend appreciation for their contributions to the beautification of Ann Arbor.

There are 15 awards this year, for each of the following honors: Centennial, Special, Rehabilitation, Adaptive Reuse, Special Merit and Memoriam; plus nine Preservation Awards.  Award-winning properties range in age from a circa 1850s retail building, to midcentury modern and include residential, institutional and commercial buildings.

REHABILITATI​​​ON AWARDS 

are given to projects that have substantially returned a property to its historic condition.

116 South Main St​​​reet — Ed Shaffran

This narrow, commercial vernacular brick building is in the 100 block of South Main Street, the first block that was commercialized shortly after Ann Arbor was founded in 1824. Some of the buildings in this block are very old with newer facades and could date to the 1840s. This building dates to at least 1871 as the home of the Wines and Worden Clothing store, but it could go back further. It had many uses thereafter including Weissinger Signs (1910), Martin Schaller's wallpaper and book company (1900), Trubey's Confectionary Shop (1909-1916), Grinell Bros. Piano store (1920s), the Mayfair Shop (1955), Ball Office Supply (1985), and lastly Kai Gardens Restaurant. Shaffran purchased the building in 2017 and obtained approval for a complete front facade makeover from the HDC in May of that year. This building is in the Main Street Historic District. The floors above street level were covered with gray metal panels and no windows were visible for years. When Shaffran removed the grey paneling, he discovered that the bowed window that had been there had been removed, along with much of the original façade. Using historic photos, Shaffran remodeled the front to once again have windows that mimic the originals. Shaffran is being saluted for his dedication to downtown and historic buildings. 

PRESERVATION AWARDS 

are given to owners who have maintained the historic character of their property for at least 10 years. 

532 Fourth Street – E​​ileen Dickinson

This 1 ½-story frame Upright and Wing style house was built in 1880 after Rev. John Stanger purchased the lot from Albert Blaess for $950 in 1879. It still has many original windows, shutters, and wooden storms in addition to clapboard siding and pedimented trim over the windows. Dickinson has done a magnificent job of keeping the original structure intact without sacrificing her personal needs. She removed some additions that had been made in the 1980s but her main focus has been on her garden. It is spectacular! Stanger was born in Germany in the Wurrtemberg area, where Ann Arbor's Swabian population came from. He arrived in Ann Arbor in 1879 where he finally put down roots at age 50. When he died in 1896, he left a wife and 10 children. His offspring gave us Stanger Furniture and Eck Stanger, a photographer at the Ann Arbor News for 40 years. After Stanger died, his widow and children continued to live here until the late 1970s. In 1983, Maurice Cohen was living at this address, and by 1987, Dickinson was living here and has thus resided here for 22 years. The house is in the Old West Side Historic District.

933 Aberdeen – Daniel ​Sherrick

This home is an example of the mid-century modern look transitioning out of the 1950s and into a lower, leaner look in the 1960s. It has fewer and smaller windows facing the street and the garage is now almost in the forefront of the house. The architect is as yet unknown. Daniel and Ellen Sherrick purchased the house in 1992 from Zuckerman and Meyerson, who, in turn, purchased it from Donald Klaasen in 1989. Klaasen's deed dates to 1984. In 1964 (University of Michigan phone directory), it was occupied by Joseph Yamagiwa. It seems likely that Yamagiwa was the first owner of the house. Yamagiwa was a professor of Far Eastern languages and literatures at UM from 1937–1968. He worked quite closely with the US military during World War II. His wife, Hanako, an artist, continued to live here until 1983. He had many affiliations later with the Center for Japanese Studies, the Far Eastern Language Summer Institute and the US-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange. In 1965, he was at the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies. The HDC applauds the care taken in the preservation of this beautiful house by Sherrick and Moss.

1460 Cedar Bend Drive – Anne B. ​​Rapp

This home was designed in 1968 by Ann Arbor architect David Osler for Robert and Anne Rapp.  It is currently owned by the Anne B. Rapp Trust, established in 2018. The stepped-back, vertical window over a cat-slide roof is a signature design element used by Osler in the late 1960s. It allowed for lots of indirect light to reach a larger part of the interior while maintaining a striking design presence on the exterior. Originally, it was the site of a small bungalow which Osler considered building around. Eventually, he opted to reuse its foundation and built a guest room over the garage. The Rapps loved the house because it felt like country but was near the hospital.  Osler was a native of Ann Arbor and attended UM School of Architecture. He won several prizes for his work from the AIA Michigan, which gave him a lifetime achievement award. Robert Rapp was a medical doctor in charge of the radiology department at UM Hospital and later at the Veterans Administration Hospital. His obituary from April 2018 noted, “… Bob loved living in Michigan, and he especially enjoyed all the years spent with Anne in their custom-designed home on Cedar Bend Drive." What a great testimony to the power of a home and to its lasting effects. Anne Rapp survives and remains the first owner of this house. The HDC salutes her and Bob for their years of preservation.

501 Onondaga – Robert and Eli​​zabeth Oneal

This house is a wonderful example of the Georgian Revival style. It was built in 1928 to plans by local architect Samuel McCoskry Stanton, who designed many of the Georgian Revival houses in Burns Park and Ann Arbor Hills. Notice the symmetrical style of balanced windows, a center entry, and original windows with multi-paned glass and shutters. Brick gable end chimneys are also a feature of this style. It was referred to in Stanton's obituary as “the Stanton family home."   Stanton died in 1946 in a car accident while on vacation. His widow, Emily, lived in the house until around 1967. The Oneals are only the second owners. Robert is a retired plastic surgeon who founded the Center for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at UM Hospital. Elizabeth, or Zibby as she is known, is a nationally known children's book author. Her book, Language of Goldfish, won her many awards.  The Oneals have lived here for over 50 years. The HDC applauds them for their stewardship of this lovely house for over half a century!

703 W. Jefferson – Sandy Herb​​ertson

This classic clapboard, two-story, vernacular Old West Side home was built in 1898 by George Vetter, a butcher. Within a few years, he'd deeded it to his daughter Amanda Greve and her husband, Albert. They remained here until 1972 and were the ones who added a two-story lean-to and back porch to match the original house. The house has appeared on the Old West Side Homes Tour twice, in 1988 and again in 2002. Herbertson purchased the house in 1985 and decorated it with family heirlooms and antiques. She also has a fantastic garden in front. She is proud of her landscape improvements including hydrangeas, Korean lilacs, burning bushes and boxwoods. She has also added a new roof, gutters (historically correct, she points out), a new front porch deck and new driveway. Herbertson received a Preservation award in 1995 and the HDC is giving her another award, which has been dubbed a Stewardship Award, to recognize another 25 years of love and care for her property. As Herbertson wrote in a letter to the HDC, “… I have enjoyed living in this lovely old home since 1985. The neighbors are like family!"  The house is in the Old West Side Historic District.

486 Cedar Bend Drive – Ruri Kuma​​​saka

In 1961, David Osler designed this home on Cedar Bend Drive for Dr. and Mrs. Glen Kumasaka, not far from other designs he had created. It was apparently built around an older home dating to 1951. An impressive addition was added in 1971, and in 1974, Osler won an award from the Michigan Society of Architects for it. According to the finding aide at the Bentley Library, which has Osler's papers, Glen Kumasaka commissioned another house from Osler on EnGlave Drive in Ann Arbor Township in 1969. Glen Kumasaka was born in Tacoma, Washington, and spent World War II in the Tule Lake internment campus. After the war, he relocated to Rochester New York, where he went to high school. He got a BA from Harvard and an MD from the University of Rochester. He was a radiologist at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital for 28 years. He died in 2015, and his wife, Ruri, lives there today. It is a beautifully maintained house which consists of several geometric shapes linked together by space and nature; and it's built into the landscape in a wonderful way. The design is evocative of a farmhouse and barn. As Detroit Free Press columnist John Gallagher noted, Osler's trademark was to use soft lighting, winding staircases and oversized windows to have interior spaces that opened up for tenants. Osler is also famous for using natural materials in the simplest possible design. “Yet the design creates a bold silhouette on the skyline and offers an open, airy environment … ." In many articles discussing the architecture of Osler, this home is often cited as one of his masterpieces. This was the case when Osler was inducted into the American Institute of Architect's College of Fellows in 1981.

1602 Granger – James​​​ Cook Jr. and Rita Chin

This traditional bungalow-style home was built in 1924, probably by Frank T. Judson, a carpenter and contractor who was living here with his wife, Clara, by 1928. It exhibits all the classic attributes of the bungalow style including the 1 ½ story size, the battered columns on the porch (they get bigger from top to bottom), the long, sloping roof to the street, and side entrance with a covered porch. In 1961, John and Helen Judson were still living here – she may be his daughter – though they had moved on by 1964. John was later an engineer with Detroit Edison.

Rita Chin and James Cook Jr. purchased the house in 2004. They have maintained it in excellent condition and preserved the original windows. 

2576 Devonshire – Son​​ia Shaw

This mid-century modern house was designed by renowned local architect Robert Metcalf in 1959 for Everett and May Brown. May Brown was an art collector — and there are fewer windows and more walls as a result. Everett Brown was a professor of political science, and his death in 1964 rated an obituary in the New York Times. He served on the faculty from 1921 until his retirement in 1956. From 1943-1947, he was chair of the department of political science.    May continued to live here after his death. In 1970, Forrest and Sonia Shaw bought the house.  Forrest Shaw died in 2015 and his wife, Sonia, remains in the house today. The structure displays many of the defining features of the mid-century style with its flat roof, emphasis on long and low, with a hidden doorway off to the side. Decorative screening was another feature of many of Metcalf's works, which number in the hundreds in Ann Arbor. It is a wonderful example of the mid-century aesthetic and of Metcalf's work.

3 Highland Lane – ​​Christina Marie Spencer

This home within the Highland Lane enclave (five buildings, mostly designed by George Brigham) was built in 1966 for Gilbert and Gertrude Ross, and designed by David Osler. Gilbert Ross was a founding member of the Stanley Quartet, named after Albert Stanley, director of the UM School of Music from 1889-1922. Ross arrived at the university in 1942 and retired in 1970.   The Stanley Quartet was well known for playing contemporary modern music. Gertrude Ross sold the house in 1996 to Richard and Mary LeFauve, who later sold it to Mary and Frances Rabaut in 2004, who sold it to Christina Marie Spencer in 2012. Spencer currently lives there with her husband, Morgan Berthold. This house and garage are completely covered in cedar shakes and makes a strong impression on the viewer. It is a small lot with a very steep incline in the back; and the house had to be squeezed in and built on many levels. Osler was up to the challenge and claimed he would have liked to live in this house himself. After Gilbert Ross had a heart attack, Osler redesigned the house so that there was a master bedroom on the first floor. In addition, there are many windows overlooking the arboretum and a fireplace as well. The house looks deceptively small from the street but stretches quite far back. It is a unique structure, and the HDC applauds Spencer for preserving it all these years.

ADAPTIV​​​E RE-USE

2230 Pontiac Trail -- Rudolf Ste​​iner High School

This award for adaptive reuse goes to the Rudolf Steiner High School which has repurposed an old stone cottage that once belonged to Moehrle Inc., a tool-and-die company which produced custom machine jobs for large industrial accounts. Prototype, custom work was their specialty, and this thriving business was organized by Otto Moehrle Sr., a German immigrant who, in 1935, bought the site of the cottage. He incorporated as Moehrle Inc. in 1963. The company still operates today at 1081 E. North Territorial Road in Whitmore Lake by Moehrle's son, Otto Jr., and grandson. Initially, the land was occupied by the local Native Americans from about 1100 CE, and was the site of a winter and spring camp. The site underwent an archaeological dig for this reason, and many arrowheads were found. Later, the site was used by a local potter in the 1920s who made bird baths from the porcelain-like clay. The area was also planted with fruit trees, mostly apple and cherry. The first attempt to build a house was in the late 1920s and was stopped because of the Depression. Otto Moehrle Sr. and wife, Louise, acquired the property in 1935 and completed the stone house. In the 1940s, an addition was built by Moehrle to accommodate his expanding family. Next door, an attorney named George J. Burke (a Nuremberg Trial legal consultant) built the frame house, later bought by Moehrle. A factory building of concrete block and steel roof was built in 1945. In 1978, this building was razed and replaced with another of cinder block. At least six expansions were done by Moehrle before selling to the Rudolf Steiner School. A five-page history of Moehrle Inc. and the Steiner School was provided to the HDC by the school. It includes old photos of the Moehrles and detailed architectural drawings of the changes made. The Steiner School purchased the original factory and several residential buildings that made up the complex beginning in 2001 and later in 2005.   They restored the stone cottage and renovated the industrial building into an environmentally conscious high school building, including classrooms, labs and a new gym. To accomplish this, they have used solar panels on the roof, work with low-impact building materials and have a “green" certification.

SPECIAL MERIT AW​​​ARD

1085 South Univers​​ity – University of Michigan West Hall

The distinctive copper lanterns on towers of the Old East Engineering Building (now known as West Hall) have been landmarks since the building was designed and built by Albert Kahn in 1904. It was his first commission with the university and led to him designing most of the significant buildings on Central Campus (Hatcher Library, Hill Auditorium, Krause Natural Science Building, Angell Hall, Clements Library, Ruthven Museums building, and the old Medical School Building, now 1100 North University Building). The copper-clad lanterns had suffered from weathering over the years, and restoration became a priority. The original copper cladding was carefully removed, restored and reinstalled over reconstructed and structural strengthened framing, giving them another lease on life. This restoration was recognized by the statewide organization Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN) in its awards for 2018.  The university was cited for “making the investment in a building to preserve its aesthetic and historic character for future generations."

IN M​EMORIUM

Louisa Piep​er

Louisa Pieper, longtime Ann Arbor Historic Preservation coordinator for the Historic District Commission, died in August 2018. She was 80 years old. Pieper in her job for the HDC helped create 12 historic districts, including the Old West Side, Old Fourth Ward, Main Street, State Street, Division Street, Ann Street, Cobblestone Farm and others. If historic architecture was involved, Pieper's fingerprints were on it. She was a founding member of the Kempf House Society and the Downtown Historical Street Exhibit program (the glass frames and porcelain wall images found throughout the city). She served on the board of the Michigan Theater and gave us the Ford Gallery of Ann Arbor Founders hallway which leads to the screening room. She was also involved with the Washtenaw County Historical Society and the Museum on Main Street as well as the Ann Arbor Historical Foundation. She played a major part in publishing several books about Ann Arbor history and architecture. She was also one of the founders of the statewide advocacy group Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN) which gave her a Lifetime Achievement Award. Her goal all along was to preserve the feeling for people that the past is all around them and they can feel connected to it through buildings. With her hearty laugh and infectious smile, the HDC recognizes that Pieper charmed all and made Ann Arbor a much better place.

SPECIAL A​​WARD

Ann Arbor District Library for “Old ​​​News"

The HDC is recognizing the work of the staff at the library who are digitizing many years of the Ann Arbor News: Amy Cantu, Eli Neuburger, Andrew McLaren and Director Josie Parker, who negotiated the agreement with the Ann Arbor News. They have worked tirelessly to digitize it and older newspapers and make Ann Arbor's history accessible to the general public. With the establishment of “Old News" in 2011, they have revolutionized how many do research on local history. It has provided a depth of knowledge that couldn't have been dreamed of 10 years ago. The library has also digitized the Signal of Liberty, the anti-slavery newspaper published in Ann Arbor, and the Ann Arbor Argus, Ann Arbor Courier and other historic newspapers. Every day, new items are being added for public access, many of which include photographs.

CENTENNIAL AW​​ARD

Ann Arbor Farmers Market – City of Ann Arbor

This year marks the 100th year of the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, and festivities are underway to recognize this milestone. A big birthday party is planned for Saturday Aug. 31, 2019. The original market began as a curb market outside the old 1870s Courthouse at Fourth Avenue and Ann Street. Farmers would back their horse-drawn wagons onto the lawn of the courthouse and sell their produce directly to the consumer. This market began in May 1919 and was started by the Community Federation, a group of women's organizations that wanted to bring down food costs after World War I. In those days you could find chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys as well as fresh produce and flowers. The city began running the market in 1921, and it has been a city-run market ever since, regulated by the Market Commission which is appointed by the mayor. In the 1930s, former mayor Emmanuel Luick donated his lumberyard at Fifth and Detroit to be used for the market. Permanent sheds were designed and built by the WPA in 1938-1940. They still stand today. Some vendors go back generations, and a new generation of people are discovering the joys of growing foodstuffs.

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Pictured: 1085 South University – University of Michigan West Hall​

Contact Information

Jill Thacher
Historic Preservation Coordinator
734.794.6265 ext. 42608
jthacher@a2gov.org


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