Panels at parking structure to celebrate history of Lower Town


The University of Michigan will celebrate the history and stories of Ann Arbor’s Lower Town community with the installation of eight historical panels at the Wall Street parking structure.

U-M created the panels in collaboration with local historians and the neighborhood residents. They are located on the pedestrian walkways around the university’s newest parking structure.

“This is a unique opportunity for the university to honor the history of one of Ann Arbor’s oldest neighborhoods,” said Sue Gott, university planner. “It is a wonderful collaboration with the community.”

To celebrate the installation of the historical panels, the university will host a dedication event at the Wall Street parking structure at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Lower Town begins at the foot of Broadway where the Native-American Potawatomi Trail crossed the Huron River. It was one of the earliest settled neighborhoods in Ann Arbor and still contains some of the city’s oldest structures.

One of the panels focuses on schools in Lower Town. The first public schoolhouse was built about 1837 on Maiden Lane. In 1838, students were taught at a private school in a small church meeting house on Wall Street.

By late 1841, a second public school was located on Traver Road, which is the oldest school building still standing in Ann Arbor. The two school districts combined in 1855 to become the Union School on Wall Street.

In 1976, U-M opened the Turner Memorial Clinic on Wall Street, which was to be devoted to the study of gerontology. The clinic established the university’s permanent presence in the Wall Street area, which has grown to become an important extension of the U-M Health System.

The clinic now serves patients at the East Ann Arbor Health and Geriatrics Center. For many years, the Department of Psychiatry had a presence on Wall Street as well, which was relocated to the Rachel Upjohn Building on the East Medical Campus.

Another important development was the opening of the Kellogg Eye Center in 1985. The center was consolidated under one roof, bringing together the ophthalmology clinics and labs that had been scattered among seven buildings throughout the medical campus.

The Kellogg Eye Center now stands on the site of the former Wall Street school. Continued advancements in research and patient care led to the construction of Brehm Tower, completed in 2010, adjoining the Kellogg Eye Center. The combined Kellogg-Brehm facility is one of the largest and most comprehensive eye centers in the Midwest.

Speakers at Wednesday’s dedication include Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor, First Ward City Council Member Sabra Briere and historical panel coordinator Ray Detter. ¬†University officials include University Planner Sue Gott, Community Relations Director Jim Kosteva, Bentley Historical Library Director Terry McDonald, and Dr. Jonathan Trobe, Kellogg Eye Center ophthalmologist.

The Wall Street parking structure opened in July 2014.



  1. Mary Beth Westin
    on May 5, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Befure Turnder Geriatric was on Wall St. there were many ophthalmology services in Parkview (which the Turner building adjoined). So, Turner was’t the clinic that “established the university’s permanent presence in the Wall Street area… Just sayin’.

  2. G Kopmanis
    on May 6, 2015 at 11:17 am

    I’ve lived in Ann Arbor since 1984. I’ve heard of ‘the old west side’ and ‘Burn’s Park and I know what areas those generally represent… but I’ve never hear the term “lower town” before. When did that become a thing and where is it?

  3. susan wineberg
    on May 7, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    The term Lower Town has been in use since the first settlements appeared across the river on Broadway. This is what the neighborhood called itself and what it continued to be called even after it became part of the City of Ann Arbor. For years it was the equivalent of the “wrong side of the tracks’ to some people. No major investments were made there after 1900 and it became a forgotten place. Check out t he history panels at the parking structure and learn more about this forgotten neighborhood…forgotten no more.

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