Civic leader Silas Douglas, dean of the UM medical faculty and twice mayor of Ann Arbor, lived in this home at 502 East Huron Street from 1848 until 1902. His three daughters, Kate, Marie, and Louise, shown here around 1890, enjoyed the luxuries of privileged America. Kate wrote in her reminiscenses, "Ann Arbor society was unusually good for a small place.... There were many tea parties where both gentlemen and ladies were invited. They sat around little tables enjoying the good supper and pleasant talk.... They often had dances in private homes.... There were many tableaux too, which we had in our bay window." In contrast, Harriet Noble recalled that when she arrived from New York State in late 1824, "there were six or seven log huts occupied by as many inmates as could crawl into them."
Publisher, school board member, and later UM regent Junius Beal lived with his family in this fifteen-room mansion, built by his father in the 1860s on the northeast corner of South Fifth Avenue and William Street. Beal was an avid bicycle enthusiast. His many civic and business connections brought a wide variety of people to his home, described as "the center of true social life and hospitality."
A guest in Beal's home in the 1890s would have been surrounded by books, pictures, bric-a-brac, tasseled draperies, ornate furniture,
and one of the first home telephones in town. Large rooms were illuminated by floor-to-ceiling lace-curtained windows during the day or kerosene lamps and overhead chandeliers in the evening. The house was demolished in 1957 to make way for the public library.
Sponsored by McKinley
Photos courtesy of Betts Chisholm and the Bentley Historical Library