Ypsilanti has many faces, and Erica Hampton wants to share a few of them with you.
Over the past year, Hampton created the The Ypsi Project, a series of portraits...read more
It was a fun Friday night for those who attended the auction held to benefit the restoration of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse, but also successful for organizers.
With approximately 225 well-dressed people in the audience eating and drinking food and drink from local providers, all bidding on items from a private lunch at Beezy's Cafe to an African safari in Zululand, the event raised more than $45,000.
The goal for the event, held at the Michigan Firehouse Museum on Cross Street, was $25,000.
Phase one of the construction began last month and is expected to be completed by the end of May. The work includes repairs to the structure's foundation, stabilizing the walls and constructing a new roof. Work in phase two, expected to run from June through August, will include masonry work, soffit and eave repairs as well as work on the decking, including the construction of a new west decking that was present in the original 1878 structure.
Both phase one and two of construction utilize funding from a $500,000 federal stimulus grant the building received last year and a challenge grant from the Ann Arbor Area Community Fund, which would match $25,000 raised by the Friends of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse.
The event Friday night was held to raise this $25,000.
Candace Pinaud, who chaired the auction, said any money raised above the $25,000 goal would be used as seed funding for phase three of construction, which would install bathrooms, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and fire suppressing to bring the building up to code to be allow it to be used for large events, as it had before the building's doors were shuttered for safety concerns five years ago.
The first two phases of construction will stabilize the building and open the cafe on the south end of the structure, but not allow the rest of the building to be used by the community, according to FOYF volunteer Greg Marker.
Many community members from the area were in attendance Friday night, but the region's U.S. congressperson, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., may have been one of the more distinguished guests. Dingell said he was part of the reason the Freighthouse received federal stimulus money last year, which is why he was there with other local and regional politicians to deliver the check.
“I support the Freightouse,” Dingell said Friday.
“I do my best,” he said. “It feels good.”
Dingell, 83, had to leave the event early, but said his wife, Debbie, would be in charge making bids on items during the silent auction.
After refreshments and the silent auction upstairs, people congregated to the main floor to watch and participate in the live auction, ran by auctioneer Steve Gross, of Premier Auction Services. Gross peppered auctioning off 21 different prizes with occasional jokes and stories between rapidly calling out bids and a little badgering to fuel bid wars among members of the audience.
Peggy and Danny Carroll, of Ann Arbor, were the winning bidders on a trip to Florida's Anastasia Island for $1,300 Friday night. This, however, didn't keep the couple from getting into bidding contests over a South African safari trip or a 1975 vintage collectible Ford Ranchero.
While encouraging a bidding contest between Danny Carroll and another member of the audience for the vehicle, Gross was able to coax Peggy into a trip to the restroom. Then prompting a higher bid from Danny Carroll, Gross quickly labeled the experience as “the greatest moment in an auctioneer's life."
The Carrolls not only didn't mind Gross' auctioneer methods, but enjoyed the entertainment and were impressed by his abilities.
“He's very good,” Peggy Carroll said.
“He was the best auctioneer I've ever seen,” she said. “Outstanding.”
Gross proved his auctioneer skills at the end of the night by selling a $50 bill to an audience member for $150.
Kieth Bragg, who owns Aachen Auto, was the person who purchased the $50. He said he had donated some items to both the live and silent auction and had won a leather jacket in the silent auction. He had the $50 bill he purchased signed by those who volunteered at the event, as he was a fan of their a work.
“It's great,” Bragg said of the auction. “One more thing to help Ypsi.”
Governor presents 'big' check for Ypsi Freighthouse