631 Second Street
Wiegant-Hochrein House, Circa 1885
The vernacular character of this house establishes it in no specific style group but it is an attractive house, representative of its type in the area. When built, it was identical with the home at 632 South First Street.
Cabinetmaker Christian Wiegant and his family were the first occupants. Cousins of the Wiegants, Michael and Mary (Graf) Hochrein, came with their children in 1884 from Germany where Michael had been a baker and an overseer on a nobleman's demesne. Their third son, Ferdinand, was apprenticed to cabinetmaker Wiegant and together with his wife, Caroline (Radtke), became members of the household. In the 1890s the Wiegants moved around the corner to Mosley, leaving Ferdinand and Caroline to raise their seven children in this house. Ferdinand worked in the Allmendinger organ factory and later became an assistant to Silas Douglass at the Ann Arbor Gas Company.
The brickwork had already been painted when Mathematics Professor Fred Gehring and his wife Lois purchased the house in 1956. They replaced the dirt floors of the fieldstone basement with concrete and contemporized the house. Later Clarence and Ruth Roy renovated and landscaped the house in a charming and harmonious fashion. Clarence, a landscape architect, selected a ground cover of pachysandra for the front yard. Ruth, an interior decorator, chose shutters rather than curtains to show off the unusual framing of the living room windows. Bricks for the back yard wall were salvaged in 1965 from the wreckage of Ann Arbor's old City Hall.