Lots 8 and 9, West Liberty Heights

2553 and 2561 West Liberty Street


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 Benjamin J. Steinman and his wife Eleanor C. Steinman lived at 2553 W. Liberty Street.  Mr. Steinman came to Ann Arbor at age 20, in 1909.   By 1912 he was a "McNess Man," a salesman for McNess Products.  He did well enough to be able to "save enough from his earnings to pay for a 15 acre Poultry and Garden Farm 1/2 mile out of the City of Ann Arbor with all new buildings on it." (Excerpt from July, 10, 1919, issue of the Sanitary Salesman).  Mr. Steinman purchased his 15 acres on November 16, 1914.  Had he built the house at 2553 W. Liberty by 1919?  He also sold "Wood to Burn" (see images in the Gallery, link above) and grape wine.  On the inside cover of a notebook in which Mr. Steinman recorded his business expenses, are Ten Secrets of Success and a recipe for Good Egg mash (for the chickens?  horses?):

Good Egg mash
40 part yellow corn meal
30 part bran
10 " middlings
10 " beef scraps
  5 " alfalfa meal
  3 " lime stone
  1 " salt

The Steinman's subdivided and platted the farm in 1925 and recorded the West Liberty Heights Subdivision on August 1, 1925.  By the end of 1931 Lots 1, 2 3, 5, 10 and 31-41 had been sold.   Mr. Steinman built the houses on Lots 5 (770 S. Maple Road) and Lot 11 (2571 West Liberty) in addition to his own.  Houses in the subdivision at that time shared a well, and the pump house is still on Lot 6 (2527 W. Liberty).  The barn that was on Lot 7 (2541 W. Liberty) is gone but some of the foundation remains.  In total, Ben Steinman lived in Ann Arbor for 54 years before his death on December 27, 1963

After Mr. Steinman's death, his son, Glen,  and his wife Ruth, lived at 2553 W. Liberty.  Glen Steinman was an electronic technician for many years.  At one time he repaired two-way radios at Ideal Radio.  He wanted to open a shop at his home, but neighbors objected.  An affidavit of sale, land contract, between Glen Steinman and Freddie Barrett was filed on  April 17, 1974, for Lots 6 to 9 and 12 to 16.  The Barretts ran a ceramics business at 2553 W. Liberty.  They then sold 2553 W. Liberty and the surrounding lots to Robert and Donna Phillips on May 16, 1994.   Mr. Phillips ran a business at that address.  Five years later, on September 17, 1999, Mr. Phillips sold Lots 8 and 9 to Teresa (Hirth) and Robert Caldwell. 

The Phillips retain ownership of lots 6 and 7 but sold the other contiguous lots (12-16) to Habitat for Humanity for $15,000 each on June 14, 1999.  Whereas most of the lots in the subdivision are zoned R1C, these two lots are zoned R4B.  The following excerpt from the Knecht Annexation and Zoning Staff Report, prepared for the March 19, 1996, Planning Commission Meeting, explains:

. . . Lots 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16, and containing a total of 2.2 acres was annexed to the City in 1970 and was zoned R4B in anticipation of redevelopment of the site for senior high-rise housing. The project never materialized due to funding problems. Single-family homes exist on approximately half of the sites in this R4B district, while the rest remain vacant.

The vacant lots are 6, 7 and 9.

Beginning with Mr. Steinman this location has supported home businesses.  The current one is Bodywise Therapeutic Massage.  Take my word for it, the massages are wonderful. 

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