In 1867 The First Unitarian Society of Ann Arbor purchased and dedicated the old Methodist Church on the southwest corner of 5th and Ann Streets. In the Fall of 1882 the society moved into the Romanesque building they constructed on the corner of State and Huron, now occupied by Hobbs and Black Architects.
In 1946 the congregation purchased the Dr. Dean Myers family home and moved to the stone chalet (built in 1916) located at 1917 Washtenaw Ave, now serving as the Stone Chalet B&B. The congregation added a large addition to that church, designed by member and University of Michigan architecture professor George B. Brigham, in 1956.
Two of our buildings, the Hobbs and Black building and 1917 Washtenaw, are registered historic buildings.
We held our first service in our 4001 Ann Arbor - Saline Road location January 24, 1999. Our Religious Education Wing was dedicated November 14, 2004.
View a slide show of our State Street and Washtenaw Avenue Church Buildings
1866 - 1882 -- Fifth & Ann -- Our first church building had been a Methodist Church on the corner of 5th and Ann, later known as the "Unity Block". It was purchased shortly after our first minister, Charles Henry Brigham arrived in Ann Arbor. The buildings on this block no longer exist; they were demolished in the 1930s.
AADL photo of Ann Arbor in 1861
1882 - 1946 -- 100 N. State Street -- Jabez T. Sunderland, our minister from 1878 to 1898 raised money to build the lovely Romanesque church on the corner of State and Huron Streets that was completed in 1882. In 1884 a parsonage was built next door for the Sunderland family. Over the years the building had to be repaired and renovated numerous times until 1946 the diminished congregation could no longer afford to keep the building up and sold the building to the Grace Bible Church. When Grace Bible Church moved out in 1975 the building stood abandoned for some years and for a time the City of Ann Arbor used it for a basketball court! In 1985 the building was purchased by D. B. Associates Ltd who renovated it to become the offices for Hobbs & Black Architects.
This Tiffany window was donated to the church by Mrs. Francis Crane Lillie as a memorial to a young congregant's child who died at birth in 1896. The window is copyrighted 1900. It shows a life size angel in the guise of a lovely young woman cradling an infant in her arms.
When the congregation moved out hastily in 1946, they turned the building over to the new owners without remembering the memorial window. Minister Ed Redman found out about it too late to retrieve the window from the new owners. Later after the building fell into disrepair, the window was boxed over and forgotten about. The owners of the Hobbs and Black company that purchased the church in 1985 were pleasantly surprised to uncover this treasure during their renovations.
Click on the YouTube video below to see a very interesting video recounting the Hobbs and Black renovation of our historic State Street Church, now reconfigured for their offices.
A bust of Ralph Waldo Emerson sculpted by Dr. Sidney Morse held a prominent place in the entryway of the State Street church. The bust also had an honored place in "The Emerson Room" in the 1917 Washtenaw Church until it took an unfortunate fall and could not be repaired. Sidney Morse spoke at the Unity Club in Oct, 1894 while a visiting professor at the University of Michigan.
The 1894 Ann Arbor Argus article at the right describes the acquisition.
1946 - 1999 -- 1917 Washtenaw Ave -- After leaving the State Street Church our congregation purchased the Dean Myers home. Soon after the move, the congregation began to grow quickly and an addition was added in 1956, designed by member and architect George B. Brigham.