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.
Ann Arbor News, November 17, 1949
SCOUT SINGERS FORM SEXTET: These six boys, members of Dunbar Community Center-sponsored Boy Scout Troop 75, have formed themselves into a sextet. They have worked out their own harmonies and have sung at Community Chest luncheons and at the Scout "appreciation dinner" Saturday night in Ypsilanti. In the front row (left to right) are Richard Jackson, 13, of 310 Beakes St. and Hathaway Gulley, 15, of 210 Beakes St. In the rear (left to right) are Duane Calvert, 14, and Dick Sleet, 13, both of 621 N. Fourth Ave., Bernard Patterson, 16, of 712 N. Fourth Ave., and Marvin Baker, 14, of 651 N. Fourth Ave.
Ann Arbor News, October 22, 1943
The "Jive Bombers," a club of Negro youth, meet weekly at Dunbar Community Center for an evening of dancing and other simple social activities. Negroes of all ages and interests enjoy the hospitality and friendly council of this busy Community Center. Ann Arbor residents are asked to contribute to the support of this agency during the Community War Chest drive here from Nov. 1 through Nov. 3.
Sun, 07/21/2019 - 3:33pm
Audrey Monagan was born in Ann Arbor in 1941, and grew up in a close-knit, predominantly black neighborhood on North Fifth Ave. She remembers attending Bethel AME Church with her grandparents, spending time at the Dunbar Community Center, and helping raise her younger siblings. She attended Jones School and Pioneer High School before working for General Motors, where she was an inspector for eighteen years. Mrs. Monagan has been married to her second husband, Philip, for 48 years.
Sun, 07/21/2019 - 3:30pm
Hortense Howard was born in Bloomington, Illinois in 1927. Soon afterwards, her family moved to Ann Arbor, where she and her sisters became known as the “Bacon Sisters” for their choral performances at sorority houses and other venues. Ms. Howard attended a music school in Detroit because she “wanted to sing like Sarah Vaughan,” and she met many African American singers while working at the Gotham Hotel. She ran her own daycare, Sitters Unlimited Family Day Care, in Ann Arbor for twenty years.
Sun, 07/21/2019 - 3:27pm
Henrietta Edwards was born in 1919 and grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma before moving to Ann Arbor in 1941. She and her husband worked at the Willow Run Bomber Plant during World War II, and owned two filling stations—one downtown at N Fourth Avenue and E Ann Street, and one on Highway 23. She celebrated her hundredth birthday with family, friends, and former coworkers and patients from St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, where she worked as a pediatric nurse for 32 years.