Ann Arbor History

Nickels Arcade Celebrates 100 Years

Photographs, maps, and ephemera from Nickels Arcade and AADL

Nickels Arcade was constructed in downtown Ann Arbor in 1917. AADL is pleased to host a special exhibit in celebration of its centennial year. The AADL exhibit will feature a collection of architectural photography, historic photographs, maps, and objects from this beloved Ann Arbor landmark.

This exhibit runs in conjunction with a companion exhibit at the Nickels Arcade as well as within the businesses that call the Arcade home.

Ann Arbor News Photographs from Spring & Summer in Ann Arbor, 1937

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To find out more about the photographs in the slideshow and for dozens more from 80 years ago, check out our Spring in Ann Arbor, 1937 and Summer in Ann Arbor, 1937 collections.

Rotary Club of Ann Arbor: Celebrating 100 Years

The Rotary Club of Ann Arbor invites you to celebrate their 100th anniversary through this Downtown Library exhibit.

Founded in 1916, the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor (RCAA) has played a significant role in the life and activities of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, and the world. Often identified as a town and gown club, the original group of 15 Charter members was comprised of citizens from the town and the University of Michigan. Currently, RCAA has 320 members, the largest Rotary Club in the state of Michigan. This current exhibit showcases its activities over the years, its growth of programs and membership, and highlights the universal access playground to be built in Gallup Park in 2017—a gift to the city of Ann Arbor in honor of RCAA’s 100-year celebration.

Ypsilanti Murder Still Unsolved After 70 Years

On March 8, 1935, the frozen body of seven-year-old Richard Streicher Jr. was found under a bridge in Island Park in Ypsilanti by another youngster, Buck Holt. The brutal murder remains unsolved to this day. Local law enforcement quickly developed a profile of the killer and the lurid headlines of follow-up articles left nothing to conjecture on the part of readers. The Mayor of Ypsilanti went so far as to warn parents to keep their children indoors with a "maniac" on the loose. Richard's parents and relatives were brought in for questioning and the Michigan State Police were called in by Governor Fitzgerald to assist in the investigation.

Lead after lead went dry, suspects were interrogated and released, and new clues failed to develop. In August, Circuit Court Judge George W. Sample took the unusual step of convening a one-man grand jury to air all the evidence thus far to put an end to the "intense feeling and suspicion within the community" regarding the investigation. The grand jury stretched to three weeks as local law enforcement officials were grilled and reluctant witnesses held in contempt but in November, 1937, proceedings were indefinitely suspended. Leads in 1938 and 1939 proved fruitless as well.

Although Ann Arbor News coverage of the Streicher case all but ended in 1939, interest in the case continued in the county. A 2007 article in Ypsilanti Gleanings asked readers for any information they might have on the case.

Recently, an obituary appeared on MLive announcing a formal graveside service and that funds had been raised to provide for a beautiful headstone for young Richard Streicher Jr.

Sneak Peek at Performance Network at its Dawn

The Performance Network, formerly an Ann Arbor professional theater group, enters Old News in 1982 with the article Their corner of the world’s a stage. “Our immediate aim is to be studio or work space,” explained David Bernstein, one of Performance Network’s co-founders. For the first two years, Performance Network was a place for directors, playwrights, actors and stage crew to develop their professional skills. A unique feature was the “Works-in-Progress” series, stage readings of plays followed by a discussion with the playwright. Among them was Rachelle Urist, a reporter for the Ann Arbor News, who had her play, "Just Friends,” stage read and later developed into a full production. Opening their doors was the play, "We Won’t Pay, We Won’t Pay,” which heralded the era of Performance Network. Stay tuned for additional articles, photographs, programs, and more, from Performance Network's long history.

Summer Is Here And So Are The Fireworks

independence blvd

Independence Day, the Fourth of July, or July 4th, however you wish to refer to the nation’s official founding day, it is the one and only big summer holiday. It rings in the country’s separation from the British Empire (a sort of Brexit of our own), and, for some, the start of summer. With BBQ’s, picnics, fairs, parades, and fireworks, fireworks, fireworks being sold and shot off all around town, now is a great time to look back on our own history of Fourths’ gone by. There's no better place to see some great pictures as well as articles from the historic Ann Arbor News than the library’s very own Oldnews site. If you remember a guy who dressed up as a clown nurse or another who brought a skunk to the parade, you can see them on Oldnews.

Wonder what fireworks were available back in 1961? See them on display here. Remember the Buhr Park fireworks? Relive a moment in time from one of those events in 1963 or read the article about it. And of course there are plenty of parades. You can see the Ypsilanti High School's Girls Drum & Bugle Corps or the Boy Scouts, Troop 88 float in different Ypsilanti parades. But by far the favorite is the Greenbriar Subdivision kid’s parade. But if enjoying the beach is more your speed, Groome's Beach circa 1963 may give you ideas for celebrating the Fourth in a more relaxed manner.

Any way you celebrate, enjoy a safe and happy holiday!

The University of Michigan Zoo

Wolverine

If you were in Ann Arbor between 1929 and 1962, you had the opportunity to visit the University of Michigan Zoo. On October 11, 1929, an article in the Michigan Daily said the zoo would open “in about three weeks” and would boast a weather vane by famed UM sculptor Carleton Angell. A December 11, 1929 Michigan Daily article reports animals moved in "last week". The tiny zoo enclosure was constructed behind the Alexander G. Ruthven Museums Building, what most of us think of as U of M's Natural History Museum. (The giant pumas that guard the front doors of the Natural History Museum were sculpted by Carleton Angell too!)

Inside today's museum is a memorial to the zoo which explains "...In 1929, a University of Michigan alumnus anonymously offered a collection of live native Michigan animals. It was the donor's hope that the animals could be enjoyed by children staying in the hospital then located across the street. A circular animal house and pond known as the "Museum Zoological Park" were constructed behind the Museums Building." Old news articles and photos show zoo residents like badgers, a bobcat, red foxes, skunks, otters, raccoons, several pairs of black bears throughout the years, and a wolverine named Biff. At some point a "reptile pit" was added, which included snakes and turtles.

In 1938, elaborate plans surfaced for a forty acre zoological garden to be located near the University of Michigan hospital. A WPA grant was "expected to provide the finances" for a wildlife utopia, where animals of the tiny U of M Zoo would be turned loose to live with no cages. The location of this dream zoo, which never came to fruition, seems to be the edge of what is now Nichols Arboretum.

Despite the popularity of the U of M Zoo, it was torn down in 1962 to make room for an addition to the Ruthven Museums Building. A few Ann Arbor City Council members, as well as many Ann Arbor townspeople, appealed to the University Board of Regents to save and/or relocate the beloved 30something year old zoo, but eventually the animals were relocated and the zoo became a memory. By today's zoological standards, the animals of Ann Arbor lived in fairly terrible, tiny, cramped quarters. The "Animal House", as it came to be called, never grew to be a wildlife utopia, but certainly provided countless Ann Arbor children and their families the opportunity to appreciate Michigan wildlife up close.

Memorial Days Of The Past

Memorial Day Dad

Who doesn’t love a parade? And Memorial Day certainly is full of them. Ann Arbor is no exception either. Whether it is the Ann Arbor High Marching Band or Brownie Scouts or just groups of kids watching the parade, we have gathered some wonderful articles and photos. In addition to parades there are other commemorations for this holiday and for Armed Forces Day as celebrated in Ann Arbor. You can find them all here.

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.

Anything Goes in A2

This fourth annual exhibition at the Mallets Creek Library features thirty-five square paintings from the Painting Section members of the University of Michigan’s Faculty Women’s Club (FWC) covering a large variety of styles and media.

The group started in 1929. The artists learn from each other at weekly paint gatherings in their homes. Shows of their works have been displayed for the past 45 years at venues in the greater Ann Arbor area, including art fairs, UM art galleries, banks, churches, libraries, and more.

The members of this group strive to enrich the cultural life of the Ann Arbor area by raising awareness of and encouraging active participation in the visual arts.

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