Press enter after choosing selection

Kempf House Will Open To Public Soon

Kempf House Will Open To Public Soon image
Parent Issue
Copyright Protected
Rights Held By
Donated by the Ann Arbor News. © The Ann Arbor News.
OCR Text

Kempf House Will Open To Public Soon

By Doug Fulton

Next weekend will mark a milestone in Ann Arbor's history. Hopefully it will also mark the turning point at which this city begins to systematically preserve for future generations the accomplishments of its past.

The actual event will be the opening to public view of the Kempf House at 312 S. Division, the first of what is hoped to be a number of restored historical Ann Arbor homes, open to the public trust for all times.

The dates of the open house will be next Saturday and Sunday afternoon, from 1:30 until 5:30 p.m.

But those dates will also mark the kick-off of a fundraising drive for a new organization, the Ann Arbor Historical Foundation, which has been incorporated as a non-profit, tax-exempt educational organization to encourage public participation in the preservation of sites, buildings and objects significant to Ann Arbor's history and culture.

The Foundation is the brainchild of another organization — the Ann Arbor Historical Commission, a commission established by the city of Ann Arbor to promote historical preservation within the city.

The Kempf House, the first project which the Commission centered its efforts upon, was purchased by the city upon the recommendation by the Commission in the spring of 1969.

Members of the Commission were especially pleased that the Kempf House was the first project, for it is not only important from an architectural standpoint — it is described and pictured in Talbot Hamlin's reference book "Greek Revival Architecture in America" as well as registered as an historic site by the state of Michigan — but it is also a main focal point in Ann Arbor's cultural history.

For 65 years this house was the very center of musical activity in Ann Arbor. Both R. H. Kempf and his wife Pauline were consummate musicians. He founded the Lyra Male Chorus and the University Glee Club, directed the Episcopal Boys' Choir, and was mainly responsible for beginning the May Festival. Mrs. Kempf, a vocal student of Oscar Singer and graduate of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, conducted the Congregational Church choir and taught voice in the community.

The Kempfs for many years owned the only grand piano in town, and it was moved each year at festival time to University Hall for pianists to perform on and to accompany performers. The famous pianist Paderewski played it, and it was used to accompany Mme. Schumann-Heinck, who pronounced it "excellent."

The famous Steinway grand is included in the furnishings of the restored house, but most of the other furniture which visitors will see is courtesy of the Washtenaw Historical Society, which has generously loaned many period pieces to the present exhibit.

Mrs. Robert Hendrix, a commission member, has been in charge of the open house arrangements these past few weeks, and a number of helpers have been working diligently to clean, polish and prepare the Kempf House for its debut to the public.

As we said, hopefully the Kempf House will be only the first of many such dedications and restorations throughout the city, and the open house will allow the people of Ann Arbor to see what can be done, and to get in on plans for the future.

Photographs By Eck Stanger

The dining room of the Kempf House, furnished by the Washtenaw Historical Society, which will open to the public next weekend.

At left is the living room of the Kempf House, recently renovated, and below the music room, with the famous grand piano on which Paderewski played. The familiar entrance on S. Division Street (right) will hopefully attract hundreds of Ann Arborites next weekend, eager to see the first of the city's historical restorations, and learn of plans which the Historical Commission has for others.