Victorian house doubles as classroom for Eastern Michigan's graduate students in historic preservation program

1883 home built by EMU alumna Ellen Mann and husband Daniel

by Pamela Young, Published June 20, 2013

YPSILANTI - Graduate students in Eastern Michigan University's historic preservation program are getting hands-on experience this week in a Victorian house that was built by a graduate of Michigan State Normal School, now Eastern Michigan.

The Mann house, located in the town of Concord, just west of Jackson, Mich., has been turned into a classroom for the student's Documenting Collections course.

The Mann house, located in the town of Concord, just west of Jackson, has been turned into a classroom for the student's Documenting Collections course.

"The EMU course is part of a new partnership between the university and the state that provides unique educational opportunities for the students, and it enhances our stewardship and management of the Mann House," said Sandra Clark, director of the Michigan Historical Center.

The house was built by Daniel and Ellen Mann in 1883.  Ellen Mann and her two daughters, Jessie Ellen and Mary Ida, graduated from EMU, a fact that delights the students.

The students are helping the Michigan Historical Museum staff check inventories and improve storage conditions for the archives. They also are researching numerous objects in the house and producing information for an expanded Mann House webpage, which will provide insights into the past and help modern day visitors understand life in early Michigan.

The late-Victorian building features plaster ceilings, unusual catch-release doorknobs and a marbleized slate fireplace. The eight furnished rooms include pieces dating to the 1840s, when the Manns' parents were furnishing their first homes.

"Historic buildings offer our students a wonderful opportunity to participate in recording and preserving our 19th century historic resources," said Ted Ligibel, director of the historic preservation program at EMU, which is affiliated with the Department of Geography and Geology.

The Mann house is one of 11 nationally accredited museums administered by the Michigan Historical Center, an agency within the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  It is located at 205 Hanover St. in Concord, about 12 miles west of Jackson.

Another recent field school project for the students included historic restoration work on the Campbell-DeYoung farm, located in the Leelanau Peninsula near Suttons Bay (Mich). The property consists of 145 acres and has several intact vintage farming-related structures including a farmhouse and power house. Eastern students also have had a presence in Detroit for years.

Eastern Michigan University's historic preservation program, one of the largest graduate programs of its kind in the nation, has won multiple state and national awards. The program's graduates work in both the public and private sectors, including federal, state and local planning agencies; state historic preservation offices; planning and design firms; historic museums and societies; parks and recreational agencies, and in heritage and sustainable tourism.

For more information, go to the Mann house website at or call 517.524.8943.


Pamela Young

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