Giving Back to the Community

Worthy causes have always appealed to Ann Arborites. In 1860 the “ever generous ladies of our city” arranged two “Tableaux Vivants” at Hangsterfer’s Hall to raise money to help purchase the marble statue of Nydia, by famous Ann Arbor artist Randolph Rogers. Though tickets were only 25 cents, their program was so well received they raised $80.

Many, many individuals have been extraordinarily generous to our community. Sedgewick Dean owned a successful fancy grocery store. His daughter Elizabeth Dean bequeathed $1,940,000 to the city to plant and maintain its trees. The promenade along Main Street was the first of many projects her gift made possible.

James and Clarice Foster's House of Art was next to their home at 215 South State Street. Look up under the awning to see the gift shop’s art glass windows, designed in 1913 by UM architecture dean Emil Lorch. After James’s death in 1949, Clarice established a private charitable foundation. Understanding the importance of leveraging funds to attract other contributions, she left the entire principal to help establish the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation.

Eugene Power, a pioneer in microphotography, established University Microfilms in 1938, initially offering microfilm editions of rare books and then of doctoral dissertations, journals, newspapers, out-of-print books, and much more. In 1971 the UM’s Power Center for the Performing Arts was made possible by a gift from Eugene and his family.

Margaret Dow Towsley and her husband, Harry Towsley, head of pediatrics at UM Medical School, supported scores of community projects from the Michigan Theater, to Greenhills School, the Washtenaw County Historical Society’s museum, and the new St. Joseph’s Hospital, to name just a few. An active Republican and the first woman on City Council, Margaret helped found the local Planned Parenthood and the Women’s City Club. One of her favorite projects was UM’s Margaret D. Towsley Football Museum in Schembechler Hall.

Caption 1: Dean & Co. at 214 South Main Street was famous for its peanuts and gourmet coffee, which were specially roasted right in the store.

Caption 2: Harry & Margaret Towsley in 1969 at the dedication of the UM Towsley Center for Continuing Medical Education, a project dear to Harry’s heart. Margaret’s brother, Midland architect Alden Dow, designed the building.

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