417 Detroit Street
David Hemmings Cooper Shop, 1864
Ann Arbor Ecology Center
Barrel and stave manufacturer David Henning built this commercial Italianate building with its round topped windows in 1864 during the midst of the Civil War. Born in Ireland, he came to Ann Arbor in 1836. Enriched by lucrative contracts with the Union Army, Henning became one of Ann Arbor's wealthiest citizens.
In 1871 another business pioneer Moses Rogers bought the building. Rogers had operated a large and successful agricultural implements business at 201 Catherine throughout the 1860s. Feeling the need to slow down, he went into partnership with John Treadwell in 1867, expecting that Treadwell would be the proprietor and he would provide "aid and experience."
After a disastrous fire destroyed their inventory, Rogers purchased the Henning building and started in business all over again at the age of 61. Rogers banked on his good reputation and his well known civic activities, especially for Civil War Relief. He continued here in business until his death in 1888, after which his daughter Katie continued to run the store, giving up her own career as a well-known artist and portrait painter. She sold the business in 1895 and died six years later.
The building's condition declined, along with the rest of the neighborhood, throughout the 20th century. Over the years it served as a warehouse, a creamery, a machine shop, a pattern works, and an art gallery. Yet despite its many changes of ownership it was never seriously altered and still retains its original wavy, hand-blown glass in the windows.
In the 1960s Travis and Demaris Cash purchased the building and began to rehabilitate it, preserving its fine original details. The Cashes salvaged the wrought iron fence from the old Rominger property on South Fifth Avenue when that house was torn down for the Ann Arbor Public Library parking lot. Their long-time tenant has been the Ann Arbor Ecology Center whose flagship office has been here since 1970. In 1976 the preservation efforts of the Cashes were cited with an award from the Ann Arbor Bicentennial Commission.