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drawing of the Building Matters logo with the clocktower inside

Building Matters

Jessica Letaw wants to get people excited about buildings.

by James Leonard

From the October, 2019 issue

When Jessica Letaw moved to Ann Arbor ten years ago to study architecture, she looked for an organization to connect her to the local architectural community, and found there weren't any.

That didn't stop Letaw. "I craved that community and talking about building," she says, "so I made it happen."

A few years ago, she held architectural workshops at the Ann Arbor District Library under the name Building Matters. Now it's an official nonprofit and preparing to launch a series of architectural tours.

The idea came from Letaw's five-member board: two architects and three financers. One of the latter is Peter Schork, cofounder and president of Ann Arbor State Bank (which in August was acquired by Level One Bank). Schork is "an enormous fan of the architecture tours in Chicago," Letaw says, "and wanted something like that in Ann Arbor."

The tours will be led by Theresa Leslie-Robinson, formerly of the Motown Museum and the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. Leslie-Robinson emails that the first walking tours, of the Kerrytown neighborhood, will highlight "homes, work, and worship spaces with an emphasis on immigrant contributions to 19th century Ann Arbor." In September they were still finalizing hours and prices but plan to run between four and twenty tours per week and hope for twenty to thirty people per tour. (They can be reached at (734) 249-8226 or

"The tours will support the mission," Letaw says. "But the deeper goal is to get people excited about buildings and how it reflects who we are as a community--architecture and historical trends, immigration trends, or woman's rights."     (end of article)

[Originally published in October, 2019.]


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