210 West Cross

Cross Street Village

Cross Street Village, formerly Old Ypsilanti High School, was designed by Ypsilanti architect R. S. Gerganoff. The neoclassical building was constructed in three stages. The 1917 three-story southwest wing is a tapestry-brick classroom building. The southeast wing, added in 1929, includes a central entry with a clock tower; its classroom wing closely matches the style of the 1917 structure, creating the appearance of a single building. The simple Art Deco-style two-story 1950s northwest wing, built to house industrial arts classrooms, features steel, factory-style windows.

After a new high school opened in 1972, the school district used Old Ypsilanti High School for adult education classes. In 1995 the district closed the building, which sat vacant until a collaborative community process led to its purchase several years ago by American Community Builders for conversion to moderate income housing for senior citizens.

Cross Street Village’s 104 apartments, which include eighteen different floor plans created by Ypsilanti restoration architect Elisabeth Knibbe, are occupied by many retired Ypsilantians (a quarter of the residents attended high school in the building). As much as possible, original details of the building have been preserved, including the wonderful Pewabic tiles in the beautifully furnished hallways.

Tourgoers will see several apartments today, including Martha Walton’s on the second floor of the west wing. A long-time city resident, Walton collects antiques and old postcards. Another dyed-in-the-wool Ypsilantian, Lou Bunting, displays her generations of family photos (including some that predate the Civil War) on the walls of her corner third-floor apartment in the east wing.

The superb restoration/adaptation of the Old Ypsilanti High School is a terrific example of how small communities can work together to preserve their public landmark buildings. The Ypsilanti Public Schools, City Council, Historic District Commission, and city administration worked along with local volunteers from many organizations to save this architecturally and historically important building in the heart of Michigan’s second-largest historic district. Cross Street Village

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