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Posts of interest to local history buffs, written by local history buffs!

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Frank Lloyd Wright's Legacy in Ann Arbor

Wed, 01/09/2013 - 5:05pm by oldnews

Frank Lloyd Wright in Ann Arbor, a Then and Now article by local historian Grace Shackman detailed history of the house, and the continued efforts of the architectural community to restore and conserve Ann Arbor's beloved Frank Lloyd Wright home - one he built for Bill and Mary Palmer, just because they asked, known locally as the Palmer House.

Though he never built another home in Ann Arbor, his legacy is woven into the fabric of the community. Many of the local architects, among them Alden Dow and Lawrence R. Brink were students of FLW, while others like George R. Brigham, Jr. were known for designs inspired by FLW's philosophy.

This generation of architects in turn passed along the FLW influence to the next generation - well-known architects Robert Metcalf was in fact, a protege of George R. Brigham.

Read up on local architects and browse through AADL's Architecture Archive to discover more of Ann Arbor's architectural history.

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Powering Ann Arbor: The Huron River Dams

Wed, 12/26/2012 - 10:42am by Debbie G.

Ann Arbor may be known as "Tree Town" but it was the Huron River and it's potential for industry and commerce that brought settlers to the area. Grace Shackman's Then & Now article The Broadway Bridge Parks provides a succinct history of dam-building on the Huron beginning with Anson Brown's in 1830. Old News has assembled articles on the dams including the tragic tale of a 1913 accident at Barton Dam and the lone survivor.

Architect Gardner S. Williams designed nine dams along the Huron River including Barton in 1912, Argo in 1913 and Geddes in 1919. The dams were on-again, off-again sources of hydroelectric power for the city. Read Shackman's article on the old Municipal Beach at Argo Park, the precursor to the great recreational facilities now available at Argo Park.

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Ann Arbor Goes to the Movies

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 7:31pm by oldnews

In 1908, 5 cents would get you into a movie at The Casino. The Theatorium on Maynard, built on a former skating rink, showed one-reelers. The Majestic, a W.S. Butterfield theater, opened on December 19, 1907, quickly followed by the Whitney on Main Street the next January. The chain also operated the Michigan, the State, the Wuerth, and the Orpheum.

On Saturday afternoon September 11, 1915, 2000 Ann Arborites poured into the new Rae Theater (capacity 385) on Huron Street to see Pearl White in the Iron Claw. But the big hoopla occurred on Sunday September 12, when the first legal and public showing of a motion picture took place on a sabbath day in Ann Arbor history, and it took a special election to accomplish that.

The Old News team has digitized many of the news articles on the early history of Ann Arbor's movies theaters.

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Oh, to live on Sugar Mountain

Thu, 11/08/2012 - 1:00pm by amy

Forty-four years ago, on November 10, 1968, Neil Young (whose critically-acclaimed autobiography, Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippy Dream is currently a New York Times bestseller) recorded the song "Sugar Mountain" here in Ann Arbor at the now-legendary Canterbury House, then located at the end of this alley at 330 Maynard.

Recorded between the time of Young's membership with and , this ode to lost youth written four years earlier was acknowledged by fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell (who also played the Canterbury House) as the inspiration for her similarly-themed, The Circle Game. It's one of Young's earliest and more traditional folk songs, and the sincerity evident in this live recording is underscored by its remarkable intimacy.

Check out Sugar Mountain: Live at Canterbury House in our CD collection and some of our Oldnews articles about Ann Arbor's Canterbury House, at the time a coffee house music venue and center for outreach programs associated with St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. Local writer Alan Glenn wrote a great article about the Canterbury House in a recent issue of Michigan Today.

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AADL Talks to Argus Employees and Museum Curator

Thu, 10/25/2012 - 10:57am by oldnews

[img_assist|nid=218868|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=67]

Do you ever wonder what it was like to work for one of the largest employers in Ann Arbor and one of the most prestigious and well-known camera manufacturers in the world?

AADL [http://www.aadl.org/node/218814|talked to Art Parker], an avowed “Townie” who spent nearly 20 years with Argus Camera. Art talked about his family’s long history with Argus and the company’s social life that included Christmas parties, teen dances, summer camp, scholarships and profit-sharing.

We also [http://www.aadl.org/node/218815|talked with Milt Campbell, Art Dersham and Elwyn Dersham] about their years at Argus during its heyday in the 1940s and 50s and the challenging years of the 1960s and 70s as the company’s fortunes declined and Argus left Ann Arbor forever.

[http://www.aadl.org/node/218739|Cheryl Chidester], the Argus Museum curator shared the history of the company, its products and innovations, and its role in United States’ victory in World War II. We also learned about the founding of the Argus Museum, its missions in preserving the history and material culture of this early Ann Arbor industry significant to generations in the community.

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AADL Talks to Cheryl Chidester, Argus Museum Curator

Wed, 10/24/2012 - 4:12pm by oldnews

We would like to thank the Argus Museum, located in the original Argus Building at 535 W. William St. for generously sharing its resources, artifacts, and archival materials in preparing this AADL exhibit on the Argus Camera, Inc.

A special thank you goes to Cheryl Chidester, the Argus Museum curator. In this podcast, she shared the history of the company, its products and innovations, and its role in United States’ victory in World War II. We also learned about the founding of the Argus Museum, its missions in preserving the history and material culture of this early Ann Arbor industry significant to generations in the community.

We can see photos of the Museum and its exhibits as well as samples of the Argus Eye, a monthly newsletter produced by the Argus employees from the Museum’s archive.

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AADL_Talks_To-Cheryl_Chedister.mp3 13.14 MB

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AADL Talks to Argus Camera's Milt Campbell, Art & Elwyn Dersham

Wed, 10/24/2012 - 8:08am by Debbie G.

In this episode, AADL talks to former employees of Argus Camera. In 1931, a group of Ann Arbor businessmen got together to address the problem of unemployment amid the Great Depression. They raised stock and formed a company that would become Argus Camera. Argus went on to become one of the largest employers in Ann Arbor and one of the most prestigious and well-known camera manufacturers in the world.

We talked with Milt Campbell, Art Dersham and Elwyn Dersham about their years at Argus during its heyday in the 1940s and 50s and the challenging years of the 1960s and 70s as the company’s fortunes declined and Argus left Ann Arbor forever.

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AADL_Talks_To-Argus_Employees.mp3 15.21 MB

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AADL Talks To Argus Camera's Art Parker

Tue, 10/23/2012 - 8:18pm by oldnews

In this episode, AADL talks to Art Parker, an avowed “Townie” who spent nearly 20 years with Argus Camera. During its heyday in the 1940s and 50s, Argus was one of the largest employers in Ann Arbor and one of the most prestigious and well-known camera manufacturers in the world. Art talks about his family’s long history with Argus and the company’s social life that included Christmas parties, teen dances, summer camp, scholarships and profit-sharing.

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AADL_Talks_To-Art_Parker.mp3 18.13 MB

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Police Beat: Punk Rocker's Bad Gig

Tue, 10/23/2012 - 6:59pm by Debbie G.

In 1989 Kevin Michael Allin, aka G.G. Allin, and his punk rock band Toilet Rockers gave a concert at the East Quad's Halfway Inn. The band was known for it's in-your-face onstage antics that included self-inflicted beatings, nudity and fights with the audience. Unfortunately, things got out of hand and Allin was charged with three counts of assault including kicking a member of the audience, hitting another one with a chair and then following the concert, beating and burning a "groupie." After declaring Charles Manson his "hero", Allin was ordered to undergo psychiatric examination. He eventually pleaded no contest to the charges.

While serving his term Allin vowed to begin a hunger strike that never materialized and was considered a publicity stunt . Not long after his parole Allin was again arrested in Milwaukee on disorderly conduct charges that included throwing bodily discharges at the audience. After more than 50 arrests the leader of the Murder Junkies, Toilet Rockers and Disappointments, died in New York City of an apparent overdose. Despite his many run-ins with the law, Allin was a prolific recording artist and his "official "website offers his CDs, DVDs and artwork for sale.

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Cold Case Ypsilanti: The Murder of Richard Streicher Jr.

Sat, 10/13/2012 - 2:55pm by Debbie G.

On March 7, 1935 the body of seven-year-old Richard Streicher Jr. was found in the icy Huron River under a footbridge at Island Park in Ypsilanti. His body was discovered by another Ypsilanti youngster, thirteen-year-old Buck Holt. Fearing a killer on the loose, the Mayor of Ypsilanti warned parents to protect their children. Although the Ypsilanti Police, Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department and Michigan State Police undertook a massive criminal investigation, questioned the parents and followed tips, the the trail frustratingly led nowhere. Suspect after suspect were arrested and released.

Two years later, with no solution in sight, a grand jury was ordered to review evidence and compel testimony in the case. Despite hearing the testimony of thirty people including uncooperative witnesses, after four weeks Judge Sample adjourned the grand jury. Then new evidence was found, the grand jury ordered reopened, then delayed again and again. In a last ditch effort to resolve the case, Judge Sample convened another session of the one-man grand jury and sought "any suggestions or information" from the public. And that is where the investigation ended. To read all the articles about the Richard Streicher Jr. murder in Old News, click here.