Saline's Photographer

Grace Shackman

A Lansing exhibition features Lucretia Gillett.

Lucretia Gillett did a messy and demanding job usually performed, in her day, by men. She did it so well that for most of her career she was the only photographer in Saline.

Now some of her fascinating work—along with that of other Michigan photographers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—is on display in Lansing, thanks to collector Dave Tinder of Dearborn.

Born in 1820 in New York State, Gillett came to Saline in 1858 with her parents, George and Mary, her two younger sisters, Delia and Anne, and her brother, George, who was also a photographer.

George was a recent widower, and Lucretia never married. They worked together for several years starting in 1860, using a front room of the family home at 203 North Ann Arbor Street. In 1863 George moved to Ann Arbor, but his sister kept the Saline studio going until 1890.

In the nineteenth century, only about 5 percent of Michigan's photographers were women. Gillett used "Miss Lucretia Gillett" and later "L. A. Gillett" as her professional name. She worked with glass negatives, which had to be covered with a chemical base just before being put in the camera and then developed while still wet, so almost all her shots were done in her studio.

In the studio she also had more control over lighting. In the days before electricity, photographers posed subjects near windows and often used reflecting screens. All of Gillett's subjects look to their right, presumably toward a window.

In her early years in Saline, Gillett photographed Civil War soldiers who posed proudly in uniform. Civilian poses of the same period can be dated by stamps on the back of the picture that were required from August 1864 to August 1866 to help pay for the war. The ones on Gillett's pictures are canceled with her initials, L.A.G.

Gillett's subjects stand against a white wall, always on the same patterned rug, or sit, often on a carved wooden chair or one with a velvet seat cover and tassels. Sometimes a table is on the poser's left.

Most of Gillett's early work was in the form of cartes de visite, small photos shot with a multiple-lens camera and mounted on cardboard (eight were normally printed at a time). Originally used as business and calling cards, they soon became a fad. People collected pictures of friends, family members, and famous people, and put them in albums.

Dave Tinder has more than 100 Gillett carte-de-visite photos. He also has a pile of "cabinet cards," images about five by seven inches that were first manufactured in the late 1860s. Some of the pictures are just of faces, with the background blacked out. The subjects are people of all ages, including many children.

Tinder's Gillett collection includes a few oddities, such as a picture with two women in a boat, but the boat is sitting on top of the omnipresent rug, and a table is in the background. Another is of a sleeping cat curled up on one of her posing chairs. Tinder also owns two Gillett pictures of houses, probably ones near her home.

Gillett passed her skills on to others. F. Jay Haynes, a famous nineteenth-century photographer of Yellowstone National Park and other western scenes, studied in Saline during the years when Gillett was the only photographer there. She also trained another woman, Laura A. Greene, who worked as her assistant before setting up her own studio in Manchester.

Gillett's mother died in 1865. Her father, who had become an influential Saline citizen, lived until 1874. Gillett's sister Anne ran their home as a boardinghouse from 1870 to 1890. In 1890, the year she turned seventy, Gillett sold her business to Ypsilanti photographer George C. Waterman. Gillett and her sister moved to Long Beach, California, where she died in 1894.

One thousand photos—by Lucretia Gillett and others—from, Dave Tinder's collection are on display in Lansing through January 14. Gillett's photos can be found in numerous collections. Some are in the Saline Area Historical Society archives, others are with private owners, and a few are in the University of Michigan's Bentley and Clements libraries. But by far the most in a single place are in Tinder's collection.

Forty years ago, Tinder started collecting stereoscopic cards from around the world, but he soon began to concentrate on Michigan photographers. Most of his images date from 1840 to 1930. Tinder is coauthor of a forthcoming book about his collection from Wayne State University Press. He is also giving his collection to the Clements Library in several installments.

One thousand pictures from Tinder's collection of 100,000 photos are on display at Lansing's Michigan Historical Museum in the exhibition Michigan's Family Album, which runs through January 14. Several Washtenaw locations, including Bridgewater and Sharon Mills, are displayed in a section on forgotten villages. Images of the U-M pop up, as do pictures by Washtenaw County photographers besides Gillett, such as Lester Nichoson, who succeeded her for a short time as the Saline photographer, and E. E. Shaver of Chelsea. Prominent in the introductory section on Michigan photographers is a self-portrait of Lucretia Gillett.

—Grace Shackman

Photo Captions:

Gillett, shown here in a self-portrait, was one of Michigan's few women photographers in the ninteenth century.

One thousand photos - by Lucretia Gillett and others - from Dave Tinder's collection are on display in Lansing through January 14.

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Grace Shackman

Meredith Bixby

Grace Shackman

"The puppeteers looked like giants"

During Meredith Bixby's career as a puppeteer, which lasted from the 1930s to the 1980s, up to a quarter million children a year saw his shows. The Saline resident wrote the scripts, created the puppets, sets, and props, trained other puppeteers, and booked his shows. His wife, Thyra, made the costumes.

Before taking his productions on the road, Bixby would put on annual preview shows for Saline kids at his studio in the Saline Opera House on South Ann Arbor Street.

"We'd come into the room and sit facing the black curtain," laughs Lisa Laramee. "The lights would go off, and I'd watch entranced as marionettes performed The Wizard of Oz, or The Magic Fish.

"When it was over, the lights would go on and the puppeteers would emerge to take a bow. So real was the experience that the puppeteers looked like giants"

Schools all over the country booked Bixby year after year. "They didn't worry," says Bixby. "They knew they would get classic stories with carefully chosen classical music."

Now in his late eighties, Bixby has been spending his time repairing his puppets, which will go on permanent display soon at the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce office at 141 East Michigan Avenue. He lives in a modest ranch in Saline, a house filled with art and books. His enthusiasm for his life's work is apparent in his conversation.

He still has a booming voice, which he would modify in performances so that it "could be the youngest boy, or the biggest, or the meanest, and reach to the last aisle."

In the early days, Bixby traveled all over the country to put on live performances. But as requests grew, he limited his bookings to nearby states. Life also got easier after he began taping his shows because then others could put them on. He enlisted family members, as well as local notables such as WAAM's Ted Heusel, to do the voices.

"You just followed the tape," remembers Bob Zorn, who took a break from college in the 1960s to work as a puppeteer and put on a Bixby show for a season. "But you had to be coordinated. The set was complicated and weighed about half a ton." Zorn traveled with one other puppeteer, towing a minivan with the equipment, and putting on two or three shows a day. Bixby showed up now and then to make repairs or just to see how things were going.

Creating the shows took both artistic and engineering skill—Bixby had both. He started college at Wayne State University studying engineering, but liked drawing better, so he switched to art. While attending the Art Students League in New York, he worked at the public library. One day, while perusing the shelves, he came across a book of plays for puppet shows. For fun, he made the puppets for Dr. Faustus. During a month's vacation, he gave a few performances. "People were just fascinated," Bixby recalls. "I decided to become a professional."

After World War II, Bixby moved to Saline, where his grandfather had lived, and where his dad, a dentist, had practiced for fifteen years. He read widely—classic children's literature, fairy tales, folk tales — to get ideas. While the crews were on the road, he created the next season's show. He designed posters and scenery and created incredible puppets: jugglers who really juggled, cossack dancers who lifted their feet in unison, fish that swam in and out of coral reefs, and a puppet who smoked.

Bixby retired in 1982 with a farewell show in his studio. In the final years of his career he filmed his shows, and videos of them will be included in the permanent exhibit of his work.

People often told Bixby that given his success at promoting his shows, he could have made more money as a salesman. But he wasn't interested. "I was one of the few people who made a living [at puppetry], and I loved doing it," he says.

—Grace Shackman

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Herman Bock, Decorator

Grace Shackman

A gift from the past at the Law School

Last summer, Deb Adamic was cleaning the ceiling of the U-M Law Library’s reading room when she spotted a cubby­hole where the ceiling beams meet the wall. Reaching in, Adamic felt something loose and pulled out a grimy tube. Inside was a rolled-up piece of canvas bearing the inscription “Herman Bock—Feb. 5, 1931—Ann Arbor, Mich.—Decorator.”

“It was like a gift from the past,” says Adamic’s boss, Ron Koenig. “He put his name up fifty feet off the ground where no one could see it, with the thought that someday someone would see his name.”

Many people know that Law School alum William Cook (class of 1882) gave the money for the beautiful Law Quadrangle. Historians are well aware that York and Sawyer, well-respected East Coast architects, designed the buildings. But until Adamic discovered Bock’s note, the artisans who decorated the building had remained uncredited.

A city directory of the time shows a Herman R. Bock and his wife, Elizabeth, living at 435 South First Street. His occupation is listed as “painter.”

“Decorative painters were the unsung heroes” of historic buildings, Koenig says. “They traveled from project to project and kept a low profile.” Although they’re rare, Koenig had previously run across a couple of other examples of artisans who have left their names to posterity. In the early 1990s, when he was working at the state capitol in Lansing, he found the name Frank Baumgras written on the top of a door frame. The door was poplar and pine, treated to look like walnut. Koenig did some research and discovered that Baumgras was only peripherally involved in the decoration—his brothers and nephews did most of it—so it’s possible he signed his work because he was unused to anonymity. The name was left intact, with a piece of Plexiglas to protect it.

Working at Wisconsin’s capitol in 1996, Koenig was cleaning and replicating painted surfaces when he found five or six signatures entwined in a floral design high on a wall. He realized they were all women’s names and thought, “Wow—what a great thing.” When the wing where he was working was built, from 1910 to 1913, it would have been unusual for women to be involved in such a project.

It is easy to imagine why Herman Bock would have wanted credit for his work on the Law School’s reading room. The coffered ceiling, made of plaster hand painted to look like wood, is gorgeous. The recessed square panels are painted in a fleur-de-lis pattern in blue and ivory. The beams that run across the ceiling are richly decorated in bright colors and have winged shields at their midpoints. Figures of griffins—mythical winged lions—hold more shields at the points where the beams meet the walls.

The four Law Quad buildings were erected between 1923 and 1933. The library was the third completed, in 1931. It looks and feels like a Tudor Gothic cathedral, except that the entrance is on the low, long north side rather than the high, peaked east or west end. There’s even stained glass in the windows—though instead of depicting saints, these feature the seals of other universities with law schools.

Except for routine maintenance and repair, no work had been done on the reading room since it opened. Small lights lit the desks, and light streamed in from the stained-glass windows higher up, but the area between was gloomy. The painted ceiling had darkened with age.

In June 2007 the Law School received a $3 million gift from Charles Munger, a Warren Buffett associate who attended the U-M as an undergrad but didn’t finish (interrupted by World War II, he never got a bachelor’s degree—but did graduate from Harvard Law School). The school raised matching funds for what it called the “lighting project,” since the focus was on making the reading room brighter (it also included safety improvements in the library and neighboring Hutchins Hall).

“The reading room is such a gem,” says Lois Harden, the Law School’s facilities manager. “We wanted to do updates as needed while enhancing the iconic areas and have it all work together, not pull apart.” For instance, exit signs were required but would have looked out of place on the walls. Instead, they were installed on historic-looking metal poles.

Ron Koenig was delighted to win the bid to renovate the ceiling. He had lived in the Law Quad in 1971 when he was a grad student studying English and had fallen in love with the Law Library. Even then, he had noticed that the ceiling needed cleaning.

The ceiling job presented two major challenges: how to work safely fifty feet above the floor, and how to clean and restore the paint without doing any damage. The first challenge was solved with rolling towers. The second was made easier when Koenig discovered that the paint was oil based, not water based, and therefore wouldn’t dissolve in water-based cleaner.

Still, the job was huge. “We cleaned a ceiling the size of a football field with balls of cotton,” says Koenig. He also recast medallions damaged when lights were installed, cleaned parts of the limestone walls that had suffered water damage, and treated metal light units to look like stone.

While work on the ceiling proceeded, Harden sent the reading desks, also untouched since the library opened, out to be refinished. When the ceiling work was done, she also had the original cork floors replaced. They had worn remarkably well and did an excellent job of keeping the noise down, but they were dirty and scuffed. Most of the work was finished by the time the Law School opened last fall. The last job, rehanging the restored chandeliers, was done over Christmas break.

Herman Bock’s signature hasn’t been forgotten. Koenig had the canvas framed on acid-free matting, with glass on each side so that both the front and the back are visible. He will give it to the Law School to display in the building.

The Law School’s enrollment has doubled since the Law Quad opened. Its next challenge is to create more room without harming the beauty of the original buildings.

Two attempts to expand the complex have been made in the past, one more successful than the other. The ­modern-style metal addition to the library stacks facing Monroe Street is widely disliked, while the clever underground library addition is widely applauded. The Law School is now raising money for a three-pronged project: to replace the stacks’ metal cladding with a stone facade; to create a student commons by filling in a courtyard between the library and Hutchins Hall; and constructing an entirely new building in place of the parking lot across Monroe Street, next to Weill Hall.

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Flower Power in Bloom

Grace Shackman

From casual beginnings, the Art Fairs have put Ann Arbor on the national visual arts map

The first Ann Arbor Art Fair was a casual, two-block event in 1960. It was initiated by South University Avenue merchants to draw attention to their summer bargain days. They teamed up with the Ann Arbor Art Association, which saw the event as a way to further its goal of art education for townsfolk.

"We did it to draw attention that there was such a thing as art," recalls Milt Kemnitz, a participant in that first fair. "We tied clotheslines between parking meters to hang pictures. When it rained we would take them down and take them into a store close by and wait for the rain to stop."

The organizers included the chamber of commerce, the potters' and hand weavers' guilds, and the public schools' adult education program. They put out a general call for artists to display their wares in an "arts and crafts market." For the first few years, the only requirement was that all art had to be original and sold directly by the artist. By 1965, though, there were so many artists seeking to participate that the organizers switched to a jury system to ensure quality and variety. That same year they renamed their event the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair.

"It was run by wonderful ladies who poured their heart into it," recalls Dick Brunvand, who was the fair's only paid staffer from 1971 to 1985. The women from the art association were supported by the South U merchants, who helped with costs, materials, and publicity. The merchants assembled the fair's first booths in parking lots behind their stores. "Everyone helped--the merchants, the merchants' children," recalls Paul Schlanderer, a South University jewelry store owner.

Carol Furtado, who participated in the Street Art Fair for seventeen years, usually was placed in front of the Village Apothecary. "The owner was very helpful," she recalls. "He would let me and others with booths nearby bring our stuff in at night."

The fair did so well that soon other artists and other retail areas wanted to create their own fairs. The State Street Area Art Fair started in 1968. It was a juried fair from the beginning, and run directly by the merchants' association. "You see more of the merchants. They are right on the street," explains Kathy Krick, the fair's director. In fact, the merchants take up all the available space on State Street itself, leaving display space for the artists on nearby blocks of Liberty, Maynard, and William.

The Summer Art Fair's origins date to 1970. The counterculture was in full swing, and some younger people were calling the established fairs elitist. "I remember a meeting in the basement of the bank at South U and East U when a young man came and asked that they let students in," Brunvand recalls. "The little old ladies answered, 'This is our art fair, and we're not going to let students in.' "

The students responded by starting their own alternative fair on the Diag. Called the Free Fair, it was a very laid-back affair with no space assignments. Furtado, who displayed in the Free Fair before joining the Street Art Fair, recalls, "We'd just set up our paintings against the trees. Once a dog peed on one of them."

The university soon decided it didn't want anything sold on the Diag, and the fair moved to South University between State and East University. But the participants' attitudes didn't change. "We'd sit on the grass and talk," Furtado recalls. "If anyone looked interested [in our art], we'd glare at them. Later in the day, one of us would watch about six booths and the rest would go to Dominick's for the afternoon."

Gradually the Free Fair became more organized. In 1973 the fair's sponsors organized into the University Artists and Craftsmen Guild, opening an office on the fourth floor of the Michigan Union. In the early 1980s the Guild left the U-M to become the nonprofit Michigan Guild of Artists and Artisans. The fair moved around the corner to State Street in front of the Michigan Union, and a downtown section was added after the Main Street merchants invited Guild members to display there as well.

As soon as the fairs began drawing big crowds, political activists and street performers began showing up. They added to the ambience but also to the space crunch, and eventually were limited to certain locations. The university helped by letting nonprofit groups use the space in front of the Engineering Arch. "Every cause was there, sometimes opposing ones right next to each other," laughs Brunvand. In 1989 the nonprofits moved to the block of Liberty between Division and Fifth, linking all three fairs in a continuous pathway.

A little farther north on East U (which today is a mall), the Graceful Arch tent in front of the Physics and Astronomy Building provided a dramatic setting for a performance stage. Designed by Kent Hubbell's U-M architecture class, the arch sheltered such popular local talent as the Chenille Sisters and the Cadillac Cowboys.

"The Art Fairs were supportive, but they were also always afraid the music would overwhelm the Art Fairs," recalls local music impresario Joe Tiboni. "But it's part of the Art Fair, an oasis, a hangout, a place to recuperate."

In 2001 a fourth fair, Art Fair Village, was set up on Church Street. It was sponsored by South University merchants, who for several years had been engaged in a financial and philosophical spat with the Street Art Fair. This year the new fair, now called Ann Arbor's South University Art Fair, will take over the South University area, while the original Street Art Fair will take over Ingalls Mall and surrounding streets, circling Burton Memorial Tower on Washington, Thayer, and North University.

Most visitors don't realize that what appears to be one seamless fair is actually four separate ones, each with its own history and flavor. Despite disagreements along the way, the organizers have kept the same hours and operate in adjacent (and even overlapping) locations. They've also agreed on keeping high artistic standards. "We walked a tightrope to satisfy what was wanted, to not be too restrictive, but to say no when necessary to keep the sense of it," Brunvand recalls.

The result is a unique, popular, and prestigious event. It attracts more than 1,000 artists from around the nation and hordes of visitors from all over the Midwest. The fairs are consistently ranked among the best in North America. "This is a small town to provide an event like this," says Shary Brown, longtime director of the Street Art Fair.

It may have started out as a lark, but Ann Arbor's July arts gathering has become a juggernaut.

[Photo caption from original print edition]: In the early years, it was a radical concept to put art on the streets. Like many fruits of the 1960s, the fairs soon became commercialized.

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The Pumas

Grace Shackman

Carleton Angell's beloved sculptures return to the Natural History Museum

The two pumas that guarded the Ruthven Museums Building on North University for sixty-six years are missing. Generations of kids had clam­bered over the stylized black cats, and countless museum visitors had posed for pictures standing in front of them. But last July, a hole was noticed in the head of one of the pumas.

Officials first sus­pected vandalism. "They've been hit with paintballs. They were once trimmed with masking tape to look like zebras. And they've been painted green (probably in deference to a certain Big Ten ri­val)," writes museum employee Dan Madaj. But a more careful look made it clear that the real culprit was years of exposure to the ele­ments. The big cats were removed for restoration and replace­ment—the first time they'd left their perches since museum sculptor Carleton Watson Angell put them there in 1940.

A farm boy from Belding, in west Michi­gan, Angell overcame great obstacles to build a career as an artist. Born in 1887, he got his first art lessons as a child from a customer on his father's milk route. But then his father died, and his mother moved back to her hometown of Hion, New York, where Angell worked for seven years to save up for art school. He finally enrolled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1909, at age twenty-two. Afterward he worked at the American Terra Cotta Company in nearby Crystal Lake, making decorative panels for building facades but lost that job dur­ing an economic downturn. He returned to Illinois, worked in his brother's grocery store, and married Gladys Thayer.

But Angell continued sculpting and drawing, and in 1922, when he was thirty-five, his persistence finally paid off: he got an offer from the U-M to be a half-time instructor at the College of Architecture and Design. By then he and Gladys had three children, so to supplement his income, they ran a boardinghouse at 1438 Washington Heights (about where the new School of Public Health building is today). Their daughter, Jennett Angell Hamilton, re­members watching her dad strip the sheets from the beds and bring them down for her mother to wash.

In 1926 Angell was offered additional work at the U-M Museum of Natural His­tory, which was preparing to move from State Street to North U. Celebrated indus­trial architect Albert Kahn designed the V-­shaped building, but Angell contributed many decorative details, including the bronze front doors and the limestone bas-reliefs of animals and naturalists on the facade. And even after the building opened in 1928, he continued to produce busts of important people connected with the museum, both living and dead. They were placed in alcoves around the rotunda as he finished them during the 1930s.

The pumas were his last major contri­bution to the decoration. In an article in the August 17, 1940, Michigan Alumnus, Angell explained that although lions are often chosen to guard public buildings, he preferred Michigan's native cats. After building scale models to check the propor­tions, he constructed full-size figures of wood, wire, plaster of Paris, and clay. From these he created plaster molds, which were used to cast the final versions in terrazzo, a stone aggregate. Sixty-six years later, the terrazzo finally began to show its age.

Angell's main job was to make mod­els for dioramas, miniature re­creations of natural and historic scenes. He worked with scientists to mod­el extinct animals from fossil skeletons, and with anthropologists to show how people in different cultures lived. He often depicted American Indians, whom he typi­cally showed at work—making pottery, drilling, carrying things.

None of Angell's Indian dioramas are still on display, but it's interesting to wonder how he would have reacted to the recent protest by art students who charged that the museum's current repre­sentations of Native Americans are racist. Angell worked hard to create accurate de­pictions. Jennett Hamilton recalls how the family traveled to a reservation in Missaukee County, where her father spent nine hours sculpting an Ottawa chief named Henri. When the chief died soon afterward, the Angell family went back north for the funeral.

His work at the museum led to com­missions from other university depart­ments, community groups, and individu­als. Angell eventually completed hundreds of local projects, including a bronze bas-relief of philanthropist Horace Rackham in the Rackham Building and a plaque at An­gell School depicting the school's name­sake, U-M president James B. Angell (the two Angells were believed to be distant relatives).

By 1936 Carleton Angell was earning, enough that he and his family were able to leave the boardinghouse. They lived at 933 South State Street and 1217 Lutz before building a home at 3125 Hilltop in the early 1950s. Angell created Arborcrest Memorial Park's Four Chaplains monu­ment in the family room at the Hilltop home. It depicts four clergymen—two Protestants, a Roman Catholic, and a Jew—who died after giving up their life jackets to others when their ship was tor­pedoed during World War II. He complet­ed another commission—relief panels for the Washtenaw County Courthouse depict­ing local life—in the home's garage. Daughter Jennett remembers how when he was done her father enlisted her husband and brothers, along with every other able-bodied relative and friend he could find, to help him deliver the massive artwork.

Angell died in 1962 from a massive heart attack. Though he was seventy-four, granddaughter Barbara Gilson says that his death came as a shock, since he seemed in good health and was by then taking care of Gladys, who had suffered a stroke. Dariel Keeney recalls, "The last thing my grandfather said to me on my last visit to him in the hospital, hours be­fore he died, was 'Take care of your grandmother. She is so precious to me.'"

Since their installation, Angell's pumas have served as symbols of the museum, standing out in all weather. Over the years various small repairs were made, but last July's discovery made it clear that the time had come for a com­plete overhaul.

This time the museum is taking a twor pronged approach. The Fine Arts Sculp­ture Centre in Clarkston made molds from the original figures and then cast replicas in bronze. The Venus Bronze Works in Detroit has added a black finish to the bronzes, and also has restored the original terrazzo figures.

The pumas are expected back around the middle of May. The bronze cats will take over the plinths outside the doors, while the terrazzo originals will be placed in a yet-to-be-determined location inside the museum. On June 2, the museum will celebrate their return with a Puma Party, including a display of Carleton Angell's work in the rotunda.

[Photo caption from original print edition]: Farm-boy-turned-artist Carleton Angell created much of the ornamental detail on the Ruthven Museums Building, including the ornate bronze doors and the bas-relief sculptures on the facade. The two pumas guarding the entrance were the final touch—Angell chose Michigan's native cats instead of the customary lions.

[Photo caption from original print edition]: Bronze replicas of the pumas were cast at the Fine Arts Sculpture Center in Clarkston. The Venus Bronze Works in Detroit has since added a black finish to match the terrazzo originals.

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Osias Zwerdling's Art Deco Sign

Grace Shackman

From 1915 to 1943, Osias Zwerdling ran a fur store at 215-211 East Liberty. Sometime in the 1920s, he had an Art Deco sign—a twi­light scene of a wolf baying at the moon—painted on an ex­terior wall. Zwerdling always took pride in the fact that the sign was painted by a profes­sional artist, and its "painterly quality," says architectural conservator Ron Koenig, is probably the reason no one ever painted over it. But the main reason a group of peo­ple recently raised $12,000 to restore it is Zwerdling's role as patriarch of Ann Arbor's Jewish community.

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Foster's Art House

Grace Shackman and Susan Wineberg

State Street’s hidden “Venetian palace”

"The prettiest building in town” is the way Elizabeth Dusseau remembers Foster’s Art House at 213 and 215 South State. Today the two original buildings are thoroughly obscured by later additions, and few passersby ever notice that lurking behind the slate-roofed first floor are a Prairie-style storefront on the north and an Italianate house on the south.

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Grace Shackman and Susan Wineberg

The Rock

Grace Shackman

Layers of paint conceal Eli Gallup's monument to George Washington

"The Rock" at Washtenaw and Hill was placed there sixty years ago by Eli Gallup, the parks superintendent who virtually created the city's parks system during his forty-five-year tenure (1919-1964). Gallup had a love of interesting rocks and a highly developed scavenging instinct.

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Walker Carriage Co./Ann Arbor Art Association

Grace Shackman and Mary Hunt

In the nineteenth century, when industry was on a much smaller, more local scale, a good-sized county seat like Ann Arbor could be expected to have at least one carriage factory, probably more. Ann Arbor had several. The biggest was Walker and Company's Ann Arbor Carriage Works, whose legacy is the handsome red brick building on West Liberty now occupied by the Ann Arbor Art Association.

Walker and Company catered to the high-class end of the carriage trade. U-M regent and publisher Junius Beal would have nothing but a Walker carriage, and Ann Arbor Mayor Samuel Beakes, eager

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Frank Lloyd Wright in Ann Arbor

Grace Shackman

Design for Living
Thanks to Frank Lloyd Wright, Bill and Mary Palmer raised their family in a work of art.

On a Saturday morning a little over a year ago, a group that included prominent local architect Larry Brink; Doug Kelbaugh, dean of the U-M’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning; builder Bruce Niethammer; and George Colone, a heating specialist from Hutzel Plumbing & Heating, met to discuss a failing radiant heat system beneath the concrete floor of a fifty-year-old house. If it had been just any house, the solution would have been obvious: jackhammer the concrete and replace the pipes. But on hearing that suggestion, owner Mary Palmer recalls, “I nearly fainted. It wasn’t acceptable.” The reason so many people shared her concern was that the floor in question was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The group worked out a solution that would preserve the part of the radiant system that still worked, about a third of the total. Hutzel would install a new boiler and radiators to heat the rest of the house--but would hide all the new components behind couches, inside cabinets, and under beds.

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