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Wil-Dean and Duncan Manor Apartments, 1928

Wil-Dean and Duncan Manor Apartments, 1928 image

200 and 322 North State Street Wil-Dean and Duncan Manor Apartments, 1928 Creator: Vose, Gardiner Apartment buildings were never common in Ann Arbor before World War II and the few that were constructed were built in the 1920s. Demand for housing for the burgeoning population of students and medical personnel at the newly built hospitals prompted owners to tear down or move older houses and erect what was for Ann Arbor very high-density housing. These two buildings are almost identical twins and were built by Harold Zahn and Dugald Duncanson, two real estate salesmen. Duncanson hired architect Gardiner Vose, a 1927 graduate of the University of Michigan School of Architecture, and had him prepare the designs. They differ only in color: sandy-beige for the Wil-Dean at 200 North State Street, which Zahn owned, and red for Duncan Manor at 322 North State Street, which Duncanson owned. The buildings are in the Tudor Revival style, popular in the 1920s. They have steeply sloping roof lines, half-timbered gables, round arched entries, tapestry brick and the general asymmetry common to the style. Multi-paned steel casement windows were another popular feature of this period. Now drafty and rusted out with age, they are being replaced with carefully researched copies in aluminum. Both buildings were begun in 1928 at the height of the Roaring Twenties. Zahn and Duncanson never stinted on materials or details: the roofs are slate, the expensive accents are pierced brick work, color tiles and sandstone details, and some windows even had canvas awnings. Unfortunately, the stock market crash of 1929 sent their dreams to the dustbin. Duncanson lost title to Duncan Manor but Zahn managed to hang on to the Wil-Dean until 1946 when he sold it to Elizabeth Lueck, who eventually acquired Duncan Manor as well. The Lueck family have remained the owners ever since and have maintained the buildings in excellent condition, providing low-cost, high quality housing to many. Long thought of as two of Ann Arbor's most intriguing and romantic buildings, these apartments maintain their attractiveness to renters despite their lack of parking. 

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