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Ann Street Black Business District

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.

Dunbar Center

The Dunbar Center--also known at various times at the Dunbar Civic Center and the Dunbar Community Center--was a social and social services organization for Ann Arbor's Black community in the mid-twentieth century.  It was the direct precursor to the Ann Arbor Community Center.  Along with the Bethel AME Church and the Second Baptist Church, the Dunbar Center was a major hub of social life for the Black community during this period.


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AACHM Oral History: Lydia Belle Morton

Sat, 09/21/2013 - 3:31pm

Please take a moment to take our Living Oral History Survey and let us know what you learned.

Lydia B. (Cromwell) Morton was born in Ann Arbor in 1916. Her Great-Grandmother came to Ann Arbor with Judge Kenny’s family in 1867. Her grandmother Laura Bell Chester was born in Ann Arbor in 1874 and her mother was born in Ann Arbor in 1894. Mrs. Morton has one brother George Richard Cromwell. From her four children, she has 12 great grand children, 6 great, great, grand children; all but four were born in Ann Arbor. Seven generations have lived here in Ann Arbor.