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House Moving, Ann Arbor style 1987

March 15, 2013

Before Ashley Mews was built at the corner of William and Main streets in downtown Ann Arbor, two Queen Anne Victorian houses occupied that space until nearly 30 years ago. Linkner_house003

One, the so-called Martin Haller house, had been built in 1889. The other, the Jacob Laubengayer House, had been constructed in the mid-1880s.

Despite having been designated historic structures, the city was prepared to demolish them to make way for the mixed-use development that would eventually include retail space, an office building and townhomes.

That is, until Drs. Edward (Lev) Linkner and Dennis Chernin stepped in with a dramatic plan. Buying the homes in 1986, they set plans in motion to move the houses to what would become their new medical complex, the Parkway Center, at 2345 South Huron Parkway. That means the mansions would have to be physically lifted out of their foundations and moved more than five long miles.

Linkner_house002On Sunday, June 21, 1987, the move finally happened.

Streets were shut down, utility lines were either raised or removed and crowds gathered along the route to watch these massive structures slowly make their way down Main Street, Stadium Boulevard, Washtenaw Avenue and Huron Parkway.

The unforgettable event still lives vividly in the memories of many longtime Ann Arbor residents. But very few have seen a replay of that move – until now.

One of Dr. Linkner’s friends videotaped the process. And we at Priceless Photo Preservation recently digitized that 25-year-old VHS tape. With Dr. Linkner’s kind permission, we are sharing an edited version of that video with the rest of the world. Even if you’re not a townie, we are sure you will get a kick out of watching these two huge homes rambling past Michigan Stadium and crossing the recently replaced Stadium Boulevard Bridge.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Carolyn H. permalink
    March 25, 2013 10:29 am

    Very cool. I worked in one of those buildings as a teenager when it was on Main Street. Now I am a patient of Dr. Chernin’s in the same ‘house’ on Huron Parkway!

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