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Posted on Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Former Moveable Feast home on Ann Arbor's West Liberty to be renovated after sale

By Lizzy Alfs

073113_ 326_W_Liberty_Street _CS-1.jpg

The historic house at 326 W. Liberty St. was sold in July and the building is being converted to offices.

Courtney Sacco |

A year and a half after Joe Lambert founded Ann Arbor tech startup Sequoia Applied Solutions, the company became too large for its makeshift office inside Lambert’s home.

The solution, he decided, was to purchase the historic house at 326 W. Liberty St., just west of downtown, and convert it to office space.

“It’s a gorgeous house, built in the 1860s,” Lambert said. “It has a lot of history.”

City records show Lambert purchased the building in July for $550,000 from former owner Gary Clark. Lambert recently moved his seven-person company to the building and is in the process of renovating the structure to create rentable office suites.

“One of our thoughts here is to try and create some space for other companies that are in similar situations to what we were,” Lambert explained. “Young companies, growing companies, people with good energy. People who are just starting companies and want to occupy some of this space.”

After leaving his former employer, Lambert, a University of Michigan alum, founded Sequoia Applied Solutions — which provides technical consulting, mechanical analysis, and design services to clients in aerospace, defense and commercial industries.

“This business sort of started accidentally,” Lambert explained. “I had left the old company planning on taking a break. Within a week of leaving, I had customers calling and I did some small consulting just to help. …Within two weeks of that, the contracts kept growing and growing and I had to hire some more people.”

Built as a single-family home in the 1860s, 326 W. Liberty St. was later occupied by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and then the Moveable Feast restaurant. Identity Salon & Spa opened in a portion of the building in 2008, but that business has since closed.

The building was listed for sale with Bela Sipos of Reinhart Commercial. It has an assessed value of $363,000 for the 2013 taxable year.

“The house is close to downtown, so we get to be a part of the downtown community,” Lambert said. “Being here and being a part of the community and meeting people is really valuable.”

Sequoia Applied Solutions’ office occupies a small portion of the building on the first floor. As the company grows, Lambert said it could expand room by room.

In the meantime, Lambert is creating separate office suites in different parts of the house that companies can rent, along with a shared conference room, kitchenettes and bathrooms. The building will also have a common receptionist near the entrance.

Lambert plans to recreate the building’s original porch and possibly add a second floor to a block structure located behind the main house.

“These are unique spaces, not just the cookie-cutter office cubicle,” Lambert said.

“We’re kind of bullish on Ann Arbor. We think this is a great town. There’s a lot of talent coming out of U-M and a lot of interesting startup companies that we pair well with. …I like being around good, creative energy and we’re going to try and make that possible.”

Lambert hopes to have three office suites ready to lease by mid to late August.

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Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at


Kellie Woodhouse

Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

Sounds like Joe has some nice plans for the property. This historic building has so much potential. Ever since I moved to the West Side I've been hoping someone with vision would take advantage of the opportunity.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 1:53 a.m.

Big whoop.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 1:13 a.m.

I've been watching and waiting to see what happens with this place. Seems like a good fit, and great spot to be for the people who will be working there. Welcome to the neighborhood!

Tim Hornton

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 1:54 a.m.

Let us hope this corporation pays its fair share in taxes and embraces obama care for its workers along with union membership, pensions, and benefits for their gay employees soul mates. If not then they are not in my opinion embracing what Ann Arbor is all about.

Tim Hornton

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 12:33 a.m.

I say tear it down for some gov. Assisted section 8 to promote more diversity in the city. Diversity is what makes our city so great.

Wystan Stevens

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 5:15 p.m.

Historic indeed: not only as a specimen of Second Empire architecture, but as the home of Peter Brehm, German immigrant owner of the Western Brewery on Fourth Street (next to the present Bach School) -- a suicide in 1873. (Brehm shot himself in the head, in an upper room of this house, after an hour's wandering downtown without a coat, in the snows of February. He may have been despondent over money troubles, in the great financial Panic of that year.)

Lizzy Alfs

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

Thanks for posting, @Wystan Stevens. Concentrate Media mentioned that in this article on the property:

Tim Hornton

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 2:02 a.m.

Even more important to historical character of this home is that it was thought to have had many hippies smoke pot and do other mind opening drugs in the 1960's there which was important to Ann Arbor's image at the time.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 12:19 a.m.

Ann Arbor has so much history that has gone by the wayside. I'm very glad to see this old house will not follow suit, but will remain for another 50 to 100 years. They really built homes in those days, something builder's don't do anymore. By the way, glad to see Mr. Stevens is still in town. Mae, 8/10/'13.

Linda Peck

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 7:52 p.m.

Very interesting. Thank you for this history.


Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 3:26 p.m.

Deleted. Really? The interior doors of the large room on the first floor had locks on the inside and peepholes from the days of the secret society. There was also a cool shadow cast by the ancient glass in the SE room on the second floor. It was a gaping skull and gave us the creeps so long ago.


Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 5:05 p.m.

It used to belong to a secret society? I want to hear more.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

Just curious: if Arboriginal's comment was "removed in error", where is it now?

Kyle Mattson

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 11:57 p.m.

Sorry about that Arbor, that comment was removed in error. Thanks for adding that point, very interesting!


Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

Thank goodness, someone is moving into this great old house. This is the saddest picture heading this article. It looks like Detroit!


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

Wow. "Liz" don't get to Detroit much if she thinks this looks anything like it.


Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

Could you please explain what you mean by "It looks like Detroit!"?


Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

Does this house actually have historic district protection, or is it a historic house in name only? I am glad to hear they are going to replace the porch.

Lizzy Alfs

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 12:24 p.m.

It's in the Old West Side Historic District.

Linda Peck

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

I want to wish Joe Lambert all the best. I love this building, who doesn't? I look forward to seeing it properly cared for and occupied. I think whoever works there is very lucky.

Lizzy Alfs

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 12:22 p.m.

I love this building, too., I live very close to it, and always admire it on my walk to work and downtown!

pooh bear

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

I hope they restore the interior shutters that used to be there. So classy. I was told they are in the basement.