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301 S. Main

 

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downtown was the county's shopping center, Hutzel's Ladies Apparel sold upscale women's dresses on the corner from 1916 until 1989, when it was purchased by Selo and Cynthia Shevel, her partner in both life and business. Now 301 S. Main has been sold again, and its next use will doubtless reflect downtown's changing character.

Binder immigrated to Ann Arbor in 1852 at age twenty-one. Discovering there was only one small hotel in town, he built another one by the railroad station. It did well, and with the proceeds he began erecting brick commercial buildings downtown.

When the shopping district expanded south from the courthouse square on N. Main, Binder tore down his home to construct the building that still stands at 301 S. Main. Done in the Commercial Italianate style, with tall windows capped with ornate hoods and brackets at the roofline, it blended well with the other buildings then going up nearby. Binder moved into the second floor with his wife and eleven children. On the taller top floor, he opened a "lager beer and refreshment saloon" that he named Orchestrion Hall after its entertainment system: a sort of giant music box that could imitate the sound of a wind orchestra.

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