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Panel Information: Preserving Ann Arbor’s Architectural and Social History

These three buildings—a pre-Civil War parsonage, a late 19th century merchant’s home, and a 1920s automotive service garage—are now protected by a recorded Preservation Easement limiting future alteration or demolition in perpetuity. The houses are unique survivors of a residential neighborhood that once stood between downtown and State Street.

The Greek Revival house above was built in 1858 as a parsonage for the First Methodist Episcopal Church (then located at East Ann and Fifth Avenue, right inset above). The minister at that time, Rev. Seth Reed, began his career as a circuit rider preaching to early settlers throughout the Michigan wilderness. The church built its new building at South State and East Washington in 1866 (left inset above). This residence was used by its ministers until 1881.

Shoe merchant William Allaby purchased the house in 1882 and lived there until 1910 as the street and neighborhood became more commercial. In 1924 Albert and Beatrice Graves moved into the former parsonage. They built a concrete block auto-repair shop behind the house—Graves Garage—where they also sold used cars. After Albert died in 1927, various auto-related businesses leased the garage. The last—Maynard Battery and Auto Electric Shop—vacated it in 1965. Mrs. Graves had earlier divided the house into two rental apartments.

The Italianate house above was built in 1884 by German immigrant Jacob Hoffstetter and his wife Gertrude. The Hoffstetters had operated a grocery store and saloon on Main Street since 1872 (inset above). They lived above the store until they sold their business and built this house on what was then a prime residential street. Before Jacob died in 1896, they rented the back portion to Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. By 1937, the house was divided into apartments.

In 1980 Rita and Peter Heydon purchased the two houses and garage. They undertook a meticulous rehabilitation, converting the interiors of both houses to residential and office use while retaining the architectural character of the buildings. The properties were listed on the National Register of Historic Places at that time.

After donating the Preservation Easement on the properties to the non-profit Michigan Historic Preservation Network, the Heydons were awarded the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission’s Preservationist of the Year award in 2008. In 2016 the Preservation Network gave them a Lifetime Achievement Award and Michigan’s governor and legislators recognized them "for their extensive community involvement and unwavering dedication to protecting Ann Arbor’s unique heritage for generations to come."