By Kelly Davenport
News producer & copy editor, AnnArbor.com
A downtown Ann Arbor building has a new look befitting its 1800s-era heritage.
Detroit Cornice & Slate recently finished a project to restore the facade of the former Kline’s Department Store, 301 S. Main St., featuring a new cornice modeled on the historic structure’s original look.
Kline’s had installed porcelain panels over the front of the building, which were removed in 1994 when the store closed, damaging some of the original cornice.
Owner Ed Shaffran said crews had their work cut out for them.
“Once we peeled back what remained of the original facade, which was the sheet metal or tin that was up there, which had been up there since 1896, we discovered a very weakened parapet,” he said.
Workers stabilized the wall and repaired the mortar, which had deteriorated.
Because of engineering needs, the project cost about $10,000 more than an initial estimate of $50,000, Shaffran said. The work was completed in February at the site, which houses Le Dog and Washington Street Gallery, among others, as well as nine loft apartments. Its formal name is the Pratt Block.
The project was approved by the city’s Historic District Commission in September. Photographs from the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan offered documentation of the structure’s original look.
The building’s roots resonated even for Marc Hesse of the longtime family-run Detroit Cornice & Slate, Shaffran said. Hesse told him, “I’ll bet you my great-grandfather did the original work.” View more photos.