Self-Guided Walking Tour of City of Adrian Historic District
Introduction To The Dennis And State Street Historic District (For more information: CLICK HERE)
Originally known as "Berry's Southern Addition," this district was platted in 1844 by Langford and Ambrose Berry on land that they purchased from the estate of 1826 pioneers Adeline and Elias Dennis. Several of the homes in the neighborhood date to the 1840s, when Adrian was linked by railroad to Toledo (1836), Tecumseh (1838), Monroe (1840), and Hudson (1843), and became the sixth largest city in Michigan. Because of the neighborhood's ideal location—within walking distance to Adrian's commercial center, churches, and social orders, as well as its factories and rail lines—over time many early homes were either redecorated or torn down and replaced with homes of newer, more fashionable styles.
This neighborhood is worth exploring first and foremost because it contains many beautifully maintained homes that were built in a broad range of popular nineteenth- and early twentieth-century architectural styles. The main features of these styles are touched upon in this tour and elaborated on elsewhere within this website. The district is also worth exploring because it is an extremely compact area easily walked and pleasantly secluded from heavy automobile traffic—the result of the city truncating Dennis Street to make more room for its "modern" city hall in 1971 (demolished in 2010). Within a half mile of the Lenawee County Historical Museum, one can find homes built in both the Octagon and Foursquare forms as well as buildings in the Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Italian Villa, Second Empire, Queen Anne, Richardsonian Romanesque, Shingle, Colonial Revival, Classical Revival, Craftsman, and Modern styles.
Finally, the neighborhood is worth exploring since several well-known figures once called this neighborhood home. Among them are:
The inventor Thomas Edison, who worked briefly in 1864 as the telegraph operator in the city's railroad depot. He boarded at the Chittenden House at 322 State Street, where the Queen Anne-style Metcalf-Shierson House stands today.
Henry Ford's brother-in-law Samuel W. Raymond, who owned Raymond Ford Garage at 215 North Main Street and lived at 449 State Street.
J. Wallace Page, the inventor of woven wire fence and owner of Page Woven Wire Fence Company, who lived at 510 State Street.
W. H. Burnham, President of Lamb Fence Company, who lived at 204 East Church Street. This home was also, earlier, the residence of banker W. H. Waldby and, even earlier, of clothing merchant George L. Bidwell, who had the home built during the Civil War.
Ollie E. Mott, owner of Nu-Way Stretch suspender factory, who lived at 312 State Street.
Isabella and William Cocker, who were beneficiaries of Elihu L. Clark's estate estimated to be worth three quarters of a million dollars when Clark died in 1880. They lived at 312 Dennis Street for just one year after which, Isabella’s older brother DeWitt Clark, his wife, and his mother-in-law took up residence here.
Three generations of the Stevenson family, dealers in lumber and coal on Division Street, including Archimedes Stevenson who lived at 305 Dennis Street, his son Frank A. Stevenson who lived at 327 Dennis Street, and Frank's son William H. Stevenson who lived at 311 Dennis Street.
Both owners of Hart & Shaw Drugstore, which was located on the southwest corner of Main and Maumee streets, including Byron Shaw, who lived at 304 Dennis Street, and Samuel Hart who lived at 430 Dennis Street before moving to 417 State Street.
J. H. Champion, Editor of the Adrian Watchtower newspaper, who lived at 523 Winter Street.