Detroit Street – A Brief History
From mills and factories in the 1880’s, to churches and gift shops in 2022, this street is no stranger to reinvention.
The brick pavers of Detroit street in Kerrytown give shoppers a glimpse into its historic past; it’s not hard to imagine it in 1882, bustling with carriage traffic. Two particular buildings on the street have continued to evolve since then.
529 Detroit Street
Up until recently, Treasure Mart at 529 Detroit Street was a well known destination for antiques and collectibles. Demaris Cash opened the store in 1960 as a way to support her family, having no idea it would become a staple of the Kerrytown shopping district until it closed in August 2020. Redeemer Ann Arbor, a local non-denominational church, purchased the property for $2,080,000, according to tax records, last summer and will usher the building into its next phase of life.
529 Detroit Street – Future home of Redeemer Ann Arbor, formerly Treasure Mart.
Redeemer Ann Arbor had outgrown their current space at 611 ½ East William Street and were looking to expand.
“It was a wonderful opportunity for us. Our goal is to be within walking distance of central campus and there are very few options in terms of real estate that fit that criteria,” said Pastor Bart Bryant.
The building itself originated in 1869 as a steam powered planing mill (an earlier mill on the site had previously burned down). With all the growth in the area, there was a need for trim, shutters, and doors for homes. Herman Krapf became proprietor in 1876 and ran it as the Detroit Planing Mill until 1905.
Bird’s Eye view of Ann Arbor in 1880 by A. Ruger, J. J Stoner, and Beck & Pauli.
On the map pictured above (Ann Arbor, 1880), the original building (labeled ‘40’) is present with the smaller miller’s house to the left. Krapf lived in this house with his family while running the mill. Once he retired in 1905, the property went through a string of businesses, including a vacuum manufacturer, a furniture store, and a fruit warehouse before becoming Treasure Mart.
Over the years, the building has been transformed to meet the needs of whoever owned it – barn doors became windows or were boarded up. At some point a carport was added. Redeemer Ann Arbor plans to restore it to some of its former 1800’s originality. As part of the Old Fourth Ward Historic District, renovation plans have been approved by the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission.
“We have passed the historic preservation hurdle and are now in the middle of working with the planning committee. There is some structural work that needs to be addressed,” Bryant said.
The plan is to keep its historical appearance and modernize some things to make it more contemporary. Redeemer Ann Arbor is hoping to begin construction in the third quarter of this year. Construction should take a year.
417 Detroit Street
Coincidentally, Treasure Mart also had a connection to another historic property up the street at 417 in the small triangular block between Detroit and Fifth (across from Zingerman’s) . An orange-red Italian-style brick building, small and tucked in between two others, it is easy to ignore.
Originally built somewhere between the late 1850s/early 1860s, it was an apple-packing warehouse. Later a Mr. Moses Rogers started a successful farm implementation business in the building at the ripe age of 61. Fast forward to 1963 when Treasure Mart leased it for storage space for its second hand clothing store (which was located next door at 419 Detroit). Starting in 1970, the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor used the space for 31 years. Its current occupant is Catching Fireflies, a local gift store and gallery.
417 Detroit Street – currently the home of gift shop and gallery, Catching Fireflies.
“People in the neighborhood take great care in preserving history and making it functional in the present day. It’s an important stewardship,” said Bryant.
That dedication to the safekeeping of these historic buildings hopefully means another 150 years on Detroit Street.