This diva of a house has had a long and eclectic life, beginning as a Gothic Revival sometime in the mid-nineteenth century and ending up as a Queen Anne. “It’s a sampler, quite wonderful—an architectural history lesson by itself,” said Heritage Foundation board member Jane Schmiedeke in a 1986 Ann Arbor News article. From a modest frame structure, built perhaps as early as 1842, the house evolved until the 1890s, when it began to look like it does today.
By 1859 several additions to the house had resulted in steeply pitched gables on all four of its sides. Walter Beach bought the house in 1865 to live in with his wife and their expanding family (they eventually had eight children). Beach soon embellished the house, adding a long veranda with a porte-cochere at the south end, a prominent tower in the northwest corner, and elaborate wooden gingerbread. These alterations represented important nineteenth-century status symbols. The popular Queen Anne Style had peaked and was already in decline by 1893 when Beach sold his highly fashionable house.
The house has had too many owners to list here. A 1936 photo shows a boarded-up house left to rot. It was eventually repaired and lived on as an apartment house and then an EMU fraternity.
Today the house is owned by Eric and Karen Maurer, who live there with their four children. The house was on the tour in 2003, and at the time Eric’s father lived with them in a separate apartment. Walter Maurer has since died and the house is once again a single-family home. The Maurers’ have an impressive new kitchen, with custom-made cabinets. The former apartment space is now an office for Karen, an art studio for Eric, and part of their much-expanded kitchen.
Photo by Lynda Hummel