Passing the Torch
The bible of local architecture is now in its third edition.
by Grace Shackman
From the August, 2014 issue
First published in 1977, Historic Buildings: Ann Arbor, Michigan was initially written by Marjorie Reade as an outgrowth of the city's 1974 sesquicentennial celebration. The slim ninety-eight-page book grew out of the work of a committee assigned to identify significant historic structures in the city.
By 1992 Reade's book was in need of updating and expansion. Not only had more historic research on the initial buildings become available, but the city had created eleven new historic districts, all of which had buildings worthy of inclusion. Reade updated her original write-ups and recruited Susan Wineberg, who had worked on the report that formed the basis for creation of the Old Fourth Ward Historic District, to write new entries. "Marge taught me how to research buildings using assessor's cards and information at the title company," Wineberg recalls. "I was using city directories for most of my research before that." At 232 pages, the new book was more than double the length of the original.
As the twenty-year anniversary of the second edition neared, there was talk that another update was needed. Reade died in 2010, so for the new edition Wineberg took on her role, updating the 1992 listings using copious notes she had kept since the book's original publication. For the new entries, she joined forces with Patrick McCauley, an American history major (U-M 2000) who had honed his skills researching his own homes (he moved several times, always to older houses) and doing his family's genealogy.
McCauley had worked in his family's painting business since age six ("I don't think I was much help, but it was easier than getting a babysitter"), so he grew up very aware of houses. While attending college, he often spent time between classes walking around the Old Fourth Ward, near Central Campus. When he came across Wineberg and Reade's book and looked up the houses he was familiar with, he recalls, "I was surprised. I didn't realize we had houses that old. It
piqued my interest." Their combined efforts yielded the biggest edition yet: now titled Historic Ann Arbor: An Architectural Guide, it has 460 pages.
The new entries are divided between U-M buildings--not listed in the earlier editions--and buildings that were still young in 1977 but are now old enough to qualify as historic. Working from a list created by Nancy Deromedi of the group A2 Modern, Wineberg and McCauley selected more than a dozen "mid-century modern" buildings to add, including the homes of two local modernist pioneers, architects George Brigham and Bob Metcalf.
[Originally published in August, 2014.]
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