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Posted on Sat, Apr 20, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

Downtown Home and Garden looks forward during historical tour

By Lisa Carolin

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Mark Hodesh (right,) owner of Downtown Home and Garden, offered tours today of his historic building.

Lisa Carolin I For AnnArbor.com

Downtown Home and Garden owner Mark Hodesh is "celebrating the neighborhood." Hodesh, who has owned the more than a century-old building since 1975, wants to share its history and offered tours Saturday morning to do just that.

"We are a product of where and what we are, and the history of this building comes out of the pores," said Hodesh. "The farmers are gone. Now our customers are urban gardeners and gourmet cooks. We've even taking on clothing lines for this coming fall."

The building was constructed in the mid-1890s and first named the Mann and Zeeb Elevator, which supplied field seed for farmers and grain for the poultry many residents on the West Side kept. Some of the original shelves and wood floors are still there along with an old grain elevator.

The barn was built in 1906 and used as a livery stable where people coming downtown could park for the day. A reminder of that time period is the buggy that hangs there. It was manufactured at Walker's Carriage Factory on Liberty, which is now the home of the Ann Arbor Art Center. The buggy was purchased by the Washtenaw County Historical Society and is estimated to have been built in the 1890s.

The Hertlers bought the building in 1906 and renamed it Hertler Bros.

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This photo called "Farmers Day 1933" was taken in what is now Downtown Home and Garden and features members of the Hertler family, who formerly owned the building.

Lisa Carolin I For AnnArbor.com

"It is incumbent on me to keep up with modern times but not to change things too much," Hodesh told the tour group.

Hodesh still refers to the wide open space in the building as the barn, and the remaining part of Downtown Home and Garden as "the store."

Only part of the building has a basement where several horse stalls still exist. Hodesh uses the space to store Christmas trees and potatoes. He says that when he bought the building, there were seven layers of doors leading to the basement.

There also is an upstairs, which Hodesh says people have told him was a hangout for neighborhood kids. It's used to store seasonal items, and also houses his wife's art studio as well as Hodesh's office, which he refers to as "world headquarters."

Hodesh says that his mother still refers to the building as "Hertler's."

"I'm keeping an eye on the past while adapting to the future," said Hodesh, referring to Mark's Carts, which opened two years ago in the courtyard on Washington Street between First and Ashley, and to Bill's Beer Garden, which opened last year in the courtyard of Downtown Home and Garden.

"It is a labor of love and a joy to adapt this old mercantile model," he said.

Comments

mady

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.

I love DHG! Hi Lewis! kitty-kitty-kitty!

Xena

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 12:20 a.m.

I LOVE the DHG staff. They are so friendly and knowledgeable and always help me find the item I'm looking for. Sometimes I drop in just to say hi. They make me feel like I'm part of their family.

Comment

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

I miss Hertler Brothers, sorry Y'all.

Linda Diane Feldt

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

I'm puzzled by the two comments about unfriendly staff. I look for reasons to shop at DHG partly to support a great downtown store, but also because the staff is so helpful, friendly, kind and generous. And a few are truly funny as well. The atmosphere is welcoming, community oriented, and I always look forward to stopping by. Just wanted to be on record - you may have had a few negative experiences, but I offer up a couple hundred entirely positive visits to counter that impression!

Mallory

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

In addition to friendly and helpful staff, you can't beat a store that has Lewis, the cat that tolerates and seems to almost enjoy toddlers.

aes

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

Double ditto!!

Steve Bean

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Ditto.

Carole

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

Marvelous - a great place.

MMS

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:54 a.m.

I too enjoy the store but have noticed an obvious change in the nature of the sales staff. Certainly not as friendly and welcoming as years past.

Jack Gladney

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 1:19 a.m.

Maybe they aren't happy with their employee benefits package. Where does the ownership of DHG stand on ACA? Are they cutting hours to avoid paying the ACA penalty? This is important to know before we buy from them.

JRW

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:59 a.m.

Totally agree. It's a nice store with interesting items for sale, so an unfriendly atmosphere doesn't help sales.

JRW

Sat, Apr 20, 2013 : 11:39 p.m.

We've always liked the H&G building and store. However, on the last couple visits, the clerks were less than friendly. Hope it's not a trend. Browsing should be encouraged (without glaring looks from staff), since purchases usually come from feeling welcome to look around.

Goofus

Sat, Apr 20, 2013 : 9:24 p.m.

I'm usually a sour puss but I have nothing but good vibes and good things to say about good old Downtown Home and Garden. Ok...one thing: Please stock a affordable charcoal/hardwood. The one that you have for the Green Egg is way too expensive. Get a mid shelf brand for the rest of us.

Linda Peck

Sat, Apr 20, 2013 : 8 p.m.

This is a fun article. It is good to know about the history of this fine old brick building. I would like to know more about Ann Arbor's old buildings. I am happy that Mr. Hodesh has kept the feeling of the building alive.