Maybe you’re visiting Ann Arbor for the university, maybe to cheer for the Wolverines in person, or maybe you’re on a business or personal trip to Ann Arbor. Whatever the case may you, you may find yourself wanting to take a tour of the city while you have downtime. One of the best ways to get to know a new city is to look at the history preserved there. Ann Arbor is a historic city with preserved historic architecture, homes, and other landmarks. If you’re interested in exploring the historic side of Ann Arbor, here are a few steps you’ll want to hit.
St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church
The splendid building that houses St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church was built in 1897, designed in the stately Richardsonian Romanesque style. However, the history of the church goes back as far as 1831, when Father Patrick O’Kelly arrived in Ann Arbor to minister to Irish settlers. St. Thomas is the third building that housed this congregation, beginning in a private residence, then with the building of a small church, and finally the structure you see today, built from local rough-cut granite. It seats as many as a thousand and is home to a statue of St. Thomas that former pastor, Father Command, ordered on his way to the Vatican.
Cobblestone Farm is a beautiful historic home first built-in 1845. It was shared by brothers Benajah and Heman Ticknor and their respective families. The barn on the property is three stories tall and made of oak that’s stood the test of time. It’s frequently a venue for weddings and special events now. The house has been made into a museum where you can learn more about life in Ann Arbor in the mid-nineteenth century as well as take tours.
Burton Memorial Tower
If you visit the University of Michigan campus or even drive past it, you’re hard-pressed to miss the Burton Memorial Tower. This is intentional. The imposing clocktower, made of the pale, elegant campanile, was built in 1935 at the request of the University of Michigan President, Marion Leroy Burton. The purpose was to honor the lives of the University of Michigan alumni who fought and died in World War I. Today, it serves as a memorial to Burton, as well, and many of the bright minds who have passed through the University of Michigan’s campus.
Graffiti Alley may not have a long history, but it rounds out the historic tour of the city by showing you a piece of history in the making. It was originally painted in 1999 as an art piece called “Infinite Possibilities.” It was painted over not long after that, but today it’s a welcome place for graffiti artists to share their work. Imagine historians hundreds of years from now looking at the graffiti found here and get a glimpse of the diverse culture of Ann Arbor at the time.
Looking for a place to stay while you visit Ann Arbor? The University Inn currently offers 10% off to students and parents visiting the University of Michigan campus, as well as parents of UM or EMU student-athletes. Contact us today to book your stay.