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Orrin White House, 1836

Orrin White House, 1836 image

2940 Fuller Road

Orrin White House, 1836
In 1823, merchant Orrin White of Palmyra, New York, came to the newly opened Territory of Michigan to locate a farm. Choosing 176 acres on the north bank of the Huron River, he registered his claim in July. After winding up affairs in Palmyra, White returned in 1824 with his wife Ann, father-in-law Nathan Thayer, and three children. They erected a slab shanty on the site now covered by Huron High School, and moved in on July 4. The Whites were the first settlers in Ann Arbor Township outside the village of Ann Arbor, founded only five months before.

During the 1820s the family nervously shared the farm's flatlands with several hundred Indians who camped there annually while enroute to Windsor to receive treaty gifts from the British, their allies in the War of 1812. White was appointed the second commissioner of Washtenaw County in 1827, sheriff in 1832, and associate Circuit Court judge from 1833-37, often holding court in his log cabin. In 1835, as the Territory moved toward statehood, White was a delegate to the first constitutional convention. In 1842 he was elected to the state legislature. A lieutenant-colonel in the militia, White defended the Territory during the Black Hawk scare and the abortive "Toledo War," a boundary dispute between Michigan and Ohio.

In 1836 the Whites built this L-shaped cobblestone house on Fuller Road, using stones gathered nearby. Stones on the north facade are set in a herring-bone pattern while horizontal courses provide contrast on sides and rear. The deep-set center front doorway is enhanced by delicately incised columns, handmade glass sidelights and a massive lintel of oak. Wooden eaves with hex-like symbols decorate the gables.

Robert and Nan Hodges did a magnificent restoration of the house during their ownership in the 1970s and 1980s. Nan Hodges lovingly researched the history of the house and of its original owner.

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