Washtenaw Co. Courthouse, Ann Arbor, MI 1910

Bob Fox

Ypsilanti, United States

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This image is of the magnificent 1878 Washtenaw County Court House, Ann Arbor, Michigan. It is a 1910 view from the SW corner of Huron and Main Streets.

Built in 1878, the second County Courthouse was downtown Ann Arbor’s major architectural landmark. The Courthouse featured a seven-story clock tower and was situated in a park-like setting.

Village founders John Allen and Elisha Rumsey laid out the county courthouse block in 1824. The courthouse block was a spacious town square surrounded by commercial blocks. For over a century, the Courthouse Square was the focus of Ann Arbor civic and business life. The broad green lawns were a frequent gather place for parades, public speeches, political rallies, band concerts, and community events.

Many of Ann Arbor’s most prominent businesses: hotels, entertainment venues, banks, restaurants, saloons, and small retail and service businesses surrounded the Courthouse Square. Postal, telegraph, and newspaper offices were also located there.

The Courthouse Square had a magnificent presence. It was the seat of Washtenaw County government and courts. The grand structure was the symbol of the area’s vitality and importance as the commercial, civic, and cultural center of the region.

By the 1950s, building decay and vigorous campaign for a more space and a modern facility, led the County to replace the 1878 structure with the third County courthouse located on the same site today. Then-mayor William Brown personified the assumptions of the day stating: “The present courthouse was built before the turn of the century. Need I say more?”

Artwork Comments

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