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Jacob Hoffstetter House, 1887

Jacob Hoffstetter House, 1887 image

322 East Washington Street

Jacob Hoffstetter House, 1887

The Jacob Hoffstetter house is one of the most handsomely detailed of Ann Arbor's 1880s houses. A rare survivor of the nineteenth century neighborhood that once surrounded it, it is one of the best preserved of any age remaining in the downtown. Built of red brick and set high on a coursed ashlar foundation, its windows are capped by segmental arches and carved stone keystones. Oculus windows and kingpost gable ornaments with pierced trefoil designs decorate the front and side gables, while bracketed cornices crown the bay windows, all features of the Queen Anne style popular in this period.

The structure was built for Jacob Hoffstetter, who settled in Ann Arbor in 1854 with his parents, Christian and Mary. The family was among a large number of German immigrants whose settlement had a great impact on the early development of Ann Arbor. They were also part of a small group of Germans who converted to Presbyterianism shortly after their arrival.

Jacob Hoffstetter established a grocery store and saloon on Main Street in 1872, worked hard, and eventually became prosperous. Until the mid-1880s, he and his wife and two sons lived above the store. In 1887, he sold the family business and moved into this new house. One year later he rented part of it to the newly organized fraternity of Alpha Tau Omega, which made its home here from 1888-1894.

When the house was divided into apartments in 1937, a new entrance was constructed at the southeast corner. Though interior remodelling was extensive, much of the original wood trim remained intact. In 1980 the house was purchased and restored by Peter Heydon who also restored the former parsonage next door. Mr. Heydon was honored the next year by the Historical Society of Michigan for his work "in preserving and developing... historic properties on Washington Street and for finding an adaptive reuse for them."

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