For most of the twentieth century, the 100 block of East Ann Street was a hub for Black-owned businesses in downtown Ann Arbor. A rotating set of barber shops, shoe shine parlors, dry cleaners, restaurants, blues bars, and pool rooms formed the backbone of Black social life, especially for men. The district stretched around the corner onto North Fourth Avenue where the Colored Welfare League housed Black-owned businesses and community organizations such as the early Dunbar Center.
Thu, 12/01/2016 - 3:03pm
Please take a moment to take our Living Oral History Survey and let us know what you learned.
Johnnie Rush was born in 1931 and was the only black person in his class at Ann Arbor High School. He recalls many fond memories of activities with the Second Baptist Church and his family, and he talks about the many challenges for African American businesses as Ann Arbor changed over the years. Mr. Rush is a licensed barber and has run his own barbershop for 55 years.
Ann Arbor News, November 30, 1953
WHAT CITY HALL WOULD REPLACE: This is the business block the proposed new city hall would replace if it is erected in the 100 block of E. Ann St. The welter of small stores and apartments on the second and third floors has been labeled a fire hazard by those seeking passage of the city hall proposals on April 5. Out of sight at the right is the new Courthouse, now under construction. Mayor William E. Brown, jr., is leading the move to build a city hall on this site.