Historic buggy finds new home in downtown Ann Arbor
Lisa Carolin | For AnnArbor.com
Downtown Home and Garden, located on South Ashley Street in downtown Ann Arbor, received a new tenant of sorts today.
On Saturday afternoon, Holly and John Porter transported a 19th century buggy via truck from their Bridgewater Township barn to the downtown store, where it will be displayed.
"It's been hanging in the rafters since we bought the place in 1977," said Holly Porter. "I did research to find out where it came from and am just thrilled that it's part of history."
In a sense, the buggy is returning home. It was manufactured at Walker's Carriage Factory at 117 W. Liberty, which is now the home of the Ann Arbor Art Center, said Ray Detter, coordinator of the Downtown Historical Street Exhibit Program, a series of permanent sidewalk exhibits at 16 landmark sites throughout downtown Ann Arbor.
Marsha Chamberlin, president and CEO of the Ann Arbor Art Center, was on hand when the buggy arrived at Downtown Home and Garden at 210 S. Ashley.
"It's fun to make the connection that the Art Center was the home of Walker's, which made luxury carriages," said Chamberlin. "I think it's wonderful that Ann Arbor makes an effort to tell and preserve its history."
Housing the buggy at nearby Downtown Home and Garden is fitting because it occupies another historic building.
"The building was formerly Hertlers, a business whose history is tied to horses, buggies and early transportation and agriculture in our region," said Detter.
Mark Hodesh, owner of Downtown Home and Garden, bought the building from the Hertlers and says he is pleased that he has the space to house the buggy.
"This building is an old horse barn that had many Walker Carriages in it," said Hodesh. "We're planning to suspend it from the ceiling in the back. People can come see it whenever we're open."
The Downtown HIstorical Street Exhibit Program paid the Porters $300 for the buggy, which Detter estimates was built in the 1890s.
"We're going to give the buggy to the Washtenaw County Historical Society," said Louisa Pieper, who serves on the advisory board of the Downtown Historical Street Exhibit Program.
Images of Walker's Carriage Works and Hertlers are displayed in the wall image "Germans on South Ashley," located near the corner of West Liberty and West Washington Streets as part of the Downtown Historical Street Exhibit Program.