Ann Arbor / Washtenaw County - History

Thomas E. Dewey Visits His Alma Mater

thomas e. dewey

Crusading district attorney, governor of New York and two-time Republican nominee for president Thomas E. Dewey was a 1923 graduate of the University of Michigan with a soft spot in his heart for his alma mater. In July 1947, Dewey came with his wife Frances Hutt Dewey, and their two sons, Tom Jr. and John, to visit the campus and town. It was the year before his second run the presidency in 1948. Dewey suggested that the trip was to show his school to his 14-year-old Tom Jr., "a prospective student." He and his family met with UM President Alexander Ruthven, received a tour of the campus, including the Student Union, the office of the Michigan Daily and marveled at the growth of the school and town since he was an undergraduate.

At Michigan, Dewey was active on campus. He was editor of the Michigan Daily and performed in the campus choir. A photo from 1921 shows Dewey dressed as leprechaun for campus production of "Top of the Mornin'". He gave up a career in music for the law, attending Columbia University Law School. In 1956, Dewey returned again to UM campus to attend a meeting of Ann Arbor Republicans, meet with campus Young Republicans and promote the campaign of incumbent GOP President Dwight Eisenhower. Dewey was the first UM graduate to run for president of the United States. He was nominated in 1944 to run against incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt and in 1948 to run against incumbent Harry Truman. In 1958 the UM Board of Regents gave Dewey an award for Outstanding Achievement. Dewey was a native of Owosso, Mich.

Jimmy Hoffa Found At Willow Run Airport

Jimmy Hoffa

Old News has unearthed some photos from Jimmy Hoffa's triumphant return to Michigan following his election as President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in October, 1957. Over a thousand Michigan Teamsters lined up to welcome 'Jimmy' back home.

Willow Run Airport was awash in cars and semis. An honor guard preceded Hoffa onto the stage where he delighted the crowd with his homecoming speech. The Teamsters presented Jimmy with a Native American headdress to symbolize his new leadership role.

Hoffa had delivered a fiery speech at the convention decrying the McClellan Committee investigation and anti-labor legislation pending in Congress. Mr. Hoffa disappeared on July 30, 1975 three years after his tenure as President of the Teamsters ended.

All Aboard the Freedom Train

Freedom Train

On August 18, 1948, the Freedom Train pulled into Ann Arbor at Ferry Field. This traveling museum of the most important documents in American history gave people a rare opportunity to view and learn about America's founding documents, historic events and guiding principles. Washtenaw County decided to celebrate the exhibit in a very big way with a week of parades and events leading up to the train's arrival.

There was a Veteran's Parade, a Children's Parade, a Community Organization's Parade, a Voter Registration Day, parties and speeches throughout the County. The Ann Arbor News covered the events extensively and put out a special Freedom Train edition. Old News has published the photos the Ann Arbor News photographers took -- not just the few that made it into the paper. There were floats galore, bands aplenty, excited kids, a sea of bikes, long lines at Ferry Field and in the Exhibit.

An interesting part of the special edition were the ads by local merchants tailored to the exhibit. Each ad highlighted an important freedom like trial by jury and unlawful search and seizure, or a civic duty like voting and volunteering. The focus of many of the ads and speeches were those running for office, exhorting them to be fully educated to our Constitution, Bill of Rights and civil liberties. 1948 was a Presidential Election year and the Freedom Train's travels throughout the 48 states surely had an impact on candidates and voters.

AADL 20th Anniversary Exhibit

Local voters approved a millage to establish a new District Library for Ann Arbor in 1996.

Take a journey back through twenty years of the Ann Arbor District Library with this exhibit of text, panels and object highlighting the past two decades.

A lot has occurred in twenty years! State, local and national awards, new services, new technologies, new branches, author, celebrity and event highlights and more will be featured in this look at the past twenty years.

Happy 95th Anniversary Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor

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On May 13, 1921, the Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor was founded. Old News has published hundreds of photos and articles chronicling the history of one of Ann Arbor's oldest and most generous organizations. Only a few of these great photos made it into the Ann Arbor News and we hope Kiwanians enjoy this expanded look back at their history.

The Kiwanis have donated time, money, expertise and compassion to such a wide variety of needs that it's impossible to name them all. First and foremost is the Kiwanis long association with University Hospital (later Mott) Children's ward. In the 1920s the Kiwanis realized that polio was consigning hundreds of Michigan children to years of hospitalization and determined they would make life as normal and enjoyable as possible for the kids. They funded a school, a therapeutic pool, arts and crafts rooms, a professional staff, and a bright atmosphere to counter the effects of polio. How did they do it? In 1927, the Kiwanis launched the most famous Rummage Salein Ann Arbor. The Kiwanis paper sale began in 1932 and ran for more than 30 years.

The Kiwanis sponsored 4-H Club picnics, rang bells for the Salvation Army, built Boy Scout cabins and a Juvenile Center play shelter. Schools, the YWCA's Camp Takona, the Public Library, area high schools and nursery schools, the County Farm Bureau, city parks, the Police Department, the Special Olympics, the Y, whatever the need, the Kiwanis stepped up.

The Kiwanis took time to have fun with card parties, club picnics, meetings and conventions, baseball, and one a very cool road trip . Happy Anniversary Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor, here's to 95 more.

View all Kiwanis photos
Read all Kiwanis articles

60th Anniversary of 'New' Ann Arbor High School, April 1956

Hallway

This week marks the 60th anniversary of the opening of the 'New' Ann Arbor High School in April 1956. Old News has published the photos and articles that tell the story from students campaigning for new digs in February, 1953 to the first commencement in June, 1956. Voters had barely passed the bond when the earth movers starting clearing the old Stadium Hills Golf Course to make way for the new high school. There are great shots of the construction and the various buildings that make up the complex. A cornerstone ceremony was held in December, 1954, led by the AAHS Marching Band. By May, 1955, the building was ready for a Student Council inspection and in November, 1995, the School Board sponsored a public tour that brought a real crowd to the site.

Moving-in started in earnest in February, 1956. On March 30th an army of student volunteers turned out to help AAHS staff to fight the mud and get the school ready for opening day, April 9, 1956. Students filled the halls, tested the equipment, hit the books and had some fun at the not-quite-finished school. Check out the lunch room. While the new school filled up, 'Old' Ann Arbor High School at State & Huron emptied out and silent hallways awaited remodeling by the University of Michigan as the Frieze Building.

The official public tour of the new high school was held on April 15, 1956 and thousands turned out. Guests were welcomed at the door, toured a sleek new lobby, and attended a formal dedication. You can view the original Dedication Program on Old News.

On June 14, 1956, the first Commencement was held at the new high school, featuring both an 1891 graduate and an engagement. Many of the photos we've published on Old News never appeared in the Ann Arbor News so be on the lookout for townies you know.

Oldnews posts articles, letters to the editor and photos on the history of the Pall-Gelman dioxane groundwater contamination

Editorial Cartoon, 1992

The Pall-Gelman 1,4 dioxane groundwater contamination has a long and troubled past in Ann Arbor history.

AADL Archives staff, with the assistance of Scio township resident Roger Rayle, founder and leader of Scio Residents for Safe Water, has posted over 1,000 historical articles, editorials, letters to the editor and photos from the Ann Arbor News covering the history of the Pall-Gelman dioxane groundwater contamination cleanup from the late 1960s, when Gelman Sciences (now the Pall Corp.) pumped contaminated water into a holding pond at their 600 S. Wagner facility, through the close of the first iteration of the Ann Arbor News in 2009. Coverage includes not only attention-grabbing headlines but considerable detail about the company's earnings, personnel changes, and related environmental concerns at the state and local level throughout this period.

The discovery of the 1,4 dioxane in water wells in the 1980s caused a public outcry and set off much finger-pointing and several legal battles between the Pall-Gelman Corporation; Scio township residents; the city of Ann Arbor; and the state of Michigan concerning responsibility for the cleanup that's now stretched over three decades. Former Ann Arbor News assistant metro editor Lynn Monson has written a special feature story for Oldnews to bring readers up to date as the dioxane plume continues to spread toward the Huron River.

Old News Way Back Day: January 29, 1951

This month Old News travels back 65 years to January 29, 1951 and the grand opening of Eberwhite School. We found a wealth of material on Eberwhite so we've posted over 200 articles and photos all the way back to the original land swap with the University of Michigan, the laying of the cornerstone in 1950, construction, and the hundreds of events and milestones throughout the years. Many of the photos we've posted were never published in the Ann Arbor News so we don't have names to go with the faces. We'd love to hear from the alumni, faculty and families of Eberwhite to make the history more complete.

There was plenty of other local news reported on the 29th. Fire destroyed the Riverside Bar and Bowling Alley in Ypsilanti. The Ann Arbor Public Schools announced the first annual Bands In Review program featuring bands from Ann Arbor High School and Slauson and Tappan Junior Highs. On the sports front, Dave Dingman dominated the All-City Skating Meet at Burns Park. The University of Michigan opened its track season with a meet that featured a mysterious missing lap in a medley relay. While the Kiwanis thanked city residents for their generous support of the fundraising Rummage Sale, an Ann Arbor News editorial wondered why the citizens of Washtenaw county were failing to support the Polio Drive. Weddings and births were announced, plays produced and movies promoted. Television replaced radio as the mainstay of home entertainment with shows like Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Milton Berle and Studio One. Our favorite advertisement of the day was the Modern Appliance Co. display ad for the amazing Spindrier that featured several ladies dancing, celebrating and hugging the appliance.

Building Matters: Kahn Arbor

Albert Kahn is one of the most famous and prolific architects ever to be based out of Detroit.

Known internationally for his radically modernizing approach to industrial architecture, Kahn’s Ann Arbor buildings continue to define the city almost a century after they were built.

Learn about some of his well-known (and not so well-known) Ann Arbor buildings. If you’re already a Kahn fan, feel free to bring up your own.

Jessica A.S. Letaw enjoys working on, thinking over, and telling stories about architecture. Her past day jobs included design/build and construction firms. She lives in Ann Arbor with her rescue hound, Henry, and keeps herself out of trouble by volunteering for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival and other local events. She enjoys reading, gardening, and well-made White Russians.

Old News Way Back Day: December 17, 1935

This month Old News travels back 80 years to December 17, 1935. Local news dominated the front page that day with the major announcement of the merger of three banks, Ann Arbor Savings Bank, the Farmers and Mechanics Bank, and First National Bank and Trust Co. The merger, in the middle of the Great Depression, was seen as reassuring move in an otherwise shaky banking industry. Economic conditions dominated other local news as the Ann Arbor Public School announced federal funding for nursery schools and adult education. The WPA plan for a "practice house" where girls from relief families would be trained as housemaids was also unveiled. Even the Letters to the Editor were concerned with the Depression as a citizen called on neighbors to drop their opposition to a home for orphan children in the 7th ward. Perhaps related to the dire economic conditions (or not), the Courts took up the case of the stolen hog.

Many of the holiday traditions familiar to Ann Arborites took center stage in 1935. A front page article predicted that thousands would listen to the University Choral Union's Messiah at Hill Auditorium. The Community Sing, begun in 1931, was promoted with a full-page display complete with lyrics to all the favorite Christmas songs for the expected 10,000 carolers. The University of Michigan's Subscription Dance was becoming so popular organizers had to limit ticket sales. The local schools were not to be outdone with the Tappan School students putting on a production of Dicken's Christmas Carol. Check out the list of players and you may recognize a Townie. The annual Yule Lighting Contest deadline was extended to give citizens plenty of time to decorate their yards.

Amateur sports were big, really big, in 1935. Amateur boxing nights at the Armory drew big crowds and prominent coverage in the News. Mill Marsh, the News sports columnist, mused on the growing popularity of Wolverine hockey and basketball. Intrepid wrestling coach Cliff Keen regaled the Ann Arbor Kiwanis with a description of the drama of Big Ten conference matches.

So what kind of routine news would you find in the Ann Arbor Daily News in 1935? Plenty. Birthdays were celebrated, marriage license announced, deaths noted, weather data recorded, and the ever-present promotional contests, with readers competing for prizes with funny verses. Readers looked to the radio listings for their favorite programs and the theater ads for the latest films from Hollywood.

Much has changed in Ann Arbor in 80 years but it's amazing to note how many business are still around. Moe Sport Shop, celebrating 100 years in 2015, had a gorgeous display ad to tempt holiday shoppers. Kroger Co. gave cooks a list of the most-needed holiday items. Arbor Springs reminded readers to stock up on water for the holiday dinners. Stay tuned to Old News for more Way Back Days.

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