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

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60th Anniversary of 'New' Ann Arbor High School, April 1956

Mon, 04/11/2016 - 10:07am

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This week marks the 60th anniversary of the opening of the 'New' [| Ann Arbor High School] in April 1956. Old News has published the photos and articles that tell the story from students campaigning for new digs in February, 1953 to the first [|commencement] in June, 1956. Voters had barely [|passed the bond] when the [|earth movers] starting clearing the old Stadium Hills Golf Course to make way for the new high school. There are great shots of the [|construction] and the various [|buildings] that make up the complex. A cornerstone ceremony was held in December, 1954, led by the [|AAHS Marching Band.] By May, 1955, the building was ready for a [|Student Council] inspection and in November, 1995, the School Board sponsored a [|public tour] that brought a [|real crowd] to the site.

[|Moving-in] started in earnest in February, 1956. On [|March 30th] an army of [|student volunteers] turned out to help AAHS [|staff] to fight the [|mud] and get the school ready for [|opening day,] April 9, 1956. Students filled the [|halls,] tested the [|equipment,] hit the [|books] and had some [|fun] at the not-quite-finished school. Check out the [|lunch room.] While the new school filled up, [|'Old' Ann Arbor High School] at State & Huron [|emptied] out and [|silent hallways] awaited remodeling by the University of Michigan as the [|Frieze Building.]

The official public tour of the new high school was held on April 15, 1956 and [|thousands turned out.] Guests were [|welcomed] at the door, toured a [|sleek new lobby,] and attended a formal [|dedication.] You can view the original [|Dedication Program] on Old News.

On June 14, 1956, the first [|Commencement] was held at the new high school, featuring both an [|1891 graduate] and an [|engagement.] Many of the photos we've published on Old News never appeared in the Ann Arbor News so be on the lookout for townies you know.

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Building the Ann Arbor News Building

Wed, 03/16/2016 - 3:50pm

Media Player

2016 marks the 80th anniversary of the former Ann Arbor News Building at 340 E. Huron St. - the only commercial building in Ann Arbor designed by renowned architect [|Albert Kahn]. Watch the above slideshow to see the construction of this iconic art deco-style building, week by week, from [|the first shovelful on August 28, 1935] through [|its completion at the end of January, 1936].

Between January and April 1936, the News building was outfitted with [|furnishings], [|equipment] and a [|new printing press]. On May 21, 1936, [|an open house was held for the public]. Longtime News photographer [|Eck Stanger] took dozens of photos of interior spaces and staff after construction was completed, including [|the News room] and [|equipment operators], and he continued to shoot photos of staff at work [|writing], [|composing], [|printing], and [|delivering the News] through 1937.

The Ann Arbor News occupied the building until the paper's first print-run closure in 2009. It is now owned by the University of Michigan Credit Union.

[|View all photos of the new Ann Arbor News building].

You can also catch a related exhibition, [|"Albert Kahn: Under Construction"], at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA), now through July 3, 2016.

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Oldnews posts articles, letters to the editor and photos on the history of the Pall-Gelman dioxane groundwater contamination

Tue, 03/08/2016 - 7:32pm

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The Pall-Gelman 1,4 dioxane groundwater contamination has a long and troubled past in Ann Arbor history.

AADL Archives staff, with the assistance of Scio township resident [|Roger Rayle], founder and leader of [|Scio Residents for Safe Water], has posted [|over 1,000 historical articles], [|editorials], [|letters to the editor] and [|photos] from the Ann Arbor News covering the history of the Pall-Gelman dioxane groundwater contamination cleanup from the late 1960s, when Gelman Sciences (now the Pall Corp.) pumped contaminated water into a holding pond at their 600 S. Wagner facility, through the close of the first iteration of the Ann Arbor News in 2009. Coverage includes not only attention-grabbing headlines but considerable detail about the company's earnings, personnel changes, and related environmental concerns at the state and local level throughout this period.

The discovery of the 1,4 dioxane in water wells in the 1980s caused a public outcry and set off much finger-pointing and several legal battles between the Pall-Gelman Corporation; Scio township residents; the city of Ann Arbor; and the state of Michigan concerning responsibility for the cleanup that's now stretched over three decades. Former Ann Arbor News assistant metro editor Lynn Monson has written a [|special feature story for Oldnews] to bring readers up to date as the dioxane plume continues to spread toward the Huron River.

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Leni Sinclair, 2016 Kresge Eminent Artist

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 1:15pm

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Congratulations to Leni Sinclair, [|recently named the 2016 Kresge Eminent Artist]!

AADL was privileged to work with Leni on the events and [|website] surrounding the 40th anniversary of the John Sinclair Freedom Rally in 2011. You'll find several of [|Leni's photographs] relating to the Rally and her years in Ann Arbor on AADL's [|Freeing John Sinclair site]. Here you can also listen to [|an interview with Leni] in which she recalls the origins of the Detroit Artists Workshop and their strategic retreat to Ann Arbor following the Detroit Riots, or a [|joint video interview with John Sinclair] on their memories of the 1971 Rally. Read Leni's [|essay about her life in Ann Arbor's Hill House commune], or check out her work in [b:1445274|Detroit Rocks] (2012), co-authored with Gary Grimshaw.

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Old News Way Back Day: January 29, 1951

Tue, 01/26/2016 - 7:15pm


This month Old News travels back 65 years to [|January 29, 1951] and the [|grand opening] of [|Eberwhite School]. We found a wealth of material on Eberwhite so we've posted over 200 articles and photos all the way back to the original [|land swap] with the University of Michigan, the laying of the [|cornerstone] in 1950, [|construction], and the hundreds of events and milestones throughout the years. Many of the [|photos] we've posted were never published in the Ann Arbor News so we don't have [|names] to go with the [|faces]. We'd love to hear from the [|alumni,] faculty and [|families] of Eberwhite to make the history more complete.

There was plenty of other local news reported on the 29th. Fire destroyed the [|Riverside Bar and Bowling Alley] in Ypsilanti. The Ann Arbor Public Schools announced the first annual [|Bands In Review] program featuring bands from [|Ann Arbor High School] and [|Slauson] and [|Tappan] Junior Highs. On the sports front, Dave Dingman dominated the [|All-City Skating Meet] at Burns Park. The University of Michigan opened its track season with a meet that featured a mysterious [|missing lap] in a medley relay. While the Kiwanis [|thanked] city residents for their generous support of the fundraising Rummage Sale, an Ann Arbor News [|editorial] wondered why the citizens of Washtenaw county were failing to support the Polio Drive. [|Weddings] and [|births] were announced, [|plays] produced and [|movies] promoted. [|Television] replaced radio as the mainstay of home entertainment with shows like Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Milton Berle and Studio One. Our favorite advertisement of the day was the Modern Appliance Co. display ad for the amazing [|Spindrier] that featured several ladies dancing, celebrating and hugging the appliance.

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Old News Way Back Day: December 17, 1935

Wed, 12/16/2015 - 8:11am


This month Old News travels back 80 years to [|December 17, 1935. ] Local news dominated the front page that day with the major announcement of the [|merger] of three banks, [|Ann Arbor Savings Bank], the [|Farmers and Mechanics Bank], and [|First National Bank and Trust Co.] The merger, in the middle of the Great Depression, was seen as reassuring move in an otherwise shaky banking industry. Economic conditions dominated other local news as the Ann Arbor Public School [|announced] federal funding for nursery schools and adult education. The WPA plan for a [|"practice house"] where girls from relief families would be trained as housemaids was also unveiled. Even the Letters to the Editor were concerned with the Depression as a citizen [|called on neighbors] to drop their opposition to a home for orphan children in the 7th ward. Perhaps related to the dire economic conditions (or not), the Courts took up the case of the [|stolen hog].

Many of the holiday traditions familiar to Ann Arborites took center stage in 1935. A front page article predicted that [|thousands] would listen to the University Choral Union's Messiah at Hill Auditorium. The Community Sing, begun in 1931, was promoted with a [|full-page display] complete with lyrics to all the favorite Christmas songs for the expected 10,000 carolers. The University of Michigan's [|Subscription Dance] was becoming so popular organizers had to limit ticket sales. The local schools were not to be outdone with the Tappan School students putting on a production of [|Dicken's Christmas Carol.] Check out the list of players and you may recognize a Townie. The annual [|Yule Lighting Contest] deadline was extended to give citizens plenty of time to decorate their yards.

Amateur sports were big, really big, in 1935. Amateur boxing nights at the Armory drew big crowds and [|prominent coverage] in the News. Mill Marsh, the News sports columnist, [|mused] on the growing popularity of Wolverine hockey and basketball. Intrepid wrestling coach [|Cliff Keen] regaled the Ann Arbor Kiwanis with a description of the [|drama] of Big Ten conference matches.

So what kind of routine news would you find in the Ann Arbor Daily News in 1935? Plenty. [|Birthdays] were celebrated, [|marriage license] announced, [|deaths] noted, [|weather data] recorded, and the ever-present promotional contests, with readers competing for prizes with [|funny verses.] Readers looked to the [|radio listings] for their favorite programs and the [|theater ads] for the latest films from Hollywood.

Much has changed in Ann Arbor in 80 years but it's amazing to note how many business are still around. [|Moe Sport Shop], celebrating 100 years in 2015, had a gorgeous [|display ad] to tempt holiday shoppers. [|Kroger Co.] gave cooks [|a list] of the most-needed holiday items. [|Arbor Springs] reminded readers to stock up on water for the holiday dinners. Stay tuned to Old News for more Way Back Days.

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Livin' On The Line ~ The Community High School Line-Up Debacle of 1996

Fri, 12/11/2015 - 7:12pm


It seemed like a good idea in January,1996: To deal with overwhelming demand for placements at [|Community High School], AAPS would hold a [|lottery] for the first 50 slots and then the rest could wait in line [|"for a few days"] before the April 1st sign-up date. Except the line started at 8:45 a.m. on [|Sunday, March 17th] when Tappan Middle School student [|Maisie Wilhelm] lined up outside the Balas Building. And they came, and they came and they came, with [|tents], and [|cook stations] and [|couches] and [|campfires]. Parents set up [|temporary homes] in vans, [|temporary offices] in tents, and a Line-Up [|headquarters]. Hopeful middle-schoolers played [|Hacky Sack] (remember Hacky Sack?), [|strummed guitars] (of course), and [|exhibited] almost-Community High cool.

This being Michigan and March, a late-winter [|storm] hit Ann Arbor on March 20. By March 27, the Ann Arbor News had seen enough of frozen kids and sacrificing parents and called for an [|end] to the Line-Up in favor of an all-lottery system. Apparently the situation got so tense a Community High School student had to remind News readers it was the AAPS and not the [|students who lined up] who caused the Line-Up debacle at Balas. April 1, 1996 finally arrived and a [|cold and wrapped-up] Maisie was officially [|welcomed] by Community High School dean [|Judy Hamilton Conger.] And by April 2, Superintendent John O. Simpson had read enough [|Letters to the Editor], seen enough images of [|tents] and announced that AAPS would move to a [|lottery system] for filling slots at all three alternative schools. And thus ended another chapter in the colorful history of Community High.

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December 1, 1974 ~ Ann Arbor's Biggest Snowfall

Tue, 12/01/2015 - 2:47pm


It was 41 years ago on Sunday, December 1, 1974, that the snow started [|falling], and [|falling], and [|falling]. By the time the storm stopped on December 2nd, Ann Arbor had recorded it's biggest snowfall since records began in 1880 -- a total of 19.8 inches. [|Thousands of travelers were stranded] throughout [|Washtenaw County]. [|US 23] was a mess and cars were [|stuck] on all county roads. City, County, Schools and organizations sprang in to action, [|housing] folks, providing bed, blankets and meals for the weary voyagers.

In Ann Arbor, [|buses] were waylaid, the University of Michigan [|closed] and townies handled the storm with typical [|aplomb] , true [|grit] and seasonal [|humor]. The [|Lopez kids] got down to work, the University of Michigan students got [|arty] and cars [|stayed buried] for days.

We went to THE source for weather records, Dennis Kahlbaum, and he provided the up-to-the-minute list of Ann Arbor record snowfalls since 1880:
1) Dec. 1- 2, 1974: 19.8 inches
2) Jan. 26-27, 1967: 17.0 inches
3) Jan. 3- 4, 1999: 15.9 inches
4) Mar. 18-19, 1973: 14.6 inches
5) Jan. 30-31, 2002: 14.5 inches
6) Feb. 1- 2, 2015: 14.1 inches
7) Jan. 25-26, 1978: 13.6 inches
8) Dec. 11-12, 2000: 13.1 inches
9) Jan. 14-15, 1992: 12.5 inches
10) Jan. 1- 2, 2008, 12.3 inches

Check out all the photos and articles on [|Weather] at Old News -- we're always adding more weather-related content.

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Watch Bo Schembechler's first season unfold in real time!

Tue, 09/15/2015 - 4:05pm

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How can this Wolverine football season get any more exciting? We found a way! Now you can revisit one of the University of Michigan's most exciting seasons ever - [|Bo Schembechler]'s first campaign as head coach in 1969 - in real time as reported in the Ann Arbor News.

From [|pre-season coverage] and that thrilling [|first game against Vanderbilt University], through the shocking Ohio State upset and the trip to the Rose Bowl in January, who knows what treats await? We've already uncovered [|Millie Schembechler's famous crab dip] for your tailgate party!

Follow our coverage of Bo's entire 1969 football season via [|twitter] or [|tumblr] and ... GO BLUE!

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The Michigan - Michigan State Game That Almost Wasn't

Mon, 09/14/2015 - 4:05pm


The October, 1970 Michigan - Michigan State football match provided one of the weirder twists in the long interstate rivalry that is known simply as "The Game." A former Michigan Daily sports editor, Joel Block, filed a [|lawsuit] to block the game, citing it as a "public nuisance." Block was protesting the pre-emptive canceling of the [|Goose Lake Music Festival] due to perceived widespread drug abuse at a previous concert.

[|Preparations] for The Game continued as the [|team] and the [|AAPD] finalized plans for defense, offense and crowd control. And then the day before the game, Washtenaw County Judge Ross W. Campbell issued one of his more popular decisions, [|dismissing the lawsuit] as "patently frivolous."

And The Game? [|Hail To The Victors] ruled the day at Michigan Stadium as the Wolverines [|battered] MSU, 34 - 20. The Spartans [|suffered injuries] and [|Billy Taylor] did everything right for [|Bo.] The final twist on the lawsuit came as the Ann Arbor Police reported October 17, 1970, one of the [|quietest] Michigan - Michigan State games ever.