Ypsilanti Citizen Opinions Los Amigos Mexican Restaurant

Thank you Ypsilanti
By Dan DuChene & Christine Laughren
Jun. 23, 2010   ·   5:07 p.m.

Christine Laughren and Dan DuChene, co-owners of the Ypsilanti Citizen, pose in front of their company's banner at Frenchie's during the Citizen's one-year anniversary party.

The Ypsilanti Citizen was launched in November 2008 to inform the Ypsilanti community about the news and events that were happening in their area.

Since our launch,...read more

Crossroads Summer Festival; rockin’ ladies night
By Dave Heikkinen and Frank Wright
Jun. 23, 2010   ·   4:37 p.m.

Barbara Payton and the Big Boss Trio rock Washington Street.

A special Ladies Night was held Friday at the 2010 Ypsilanti Crossroads Summer Festival in conjunction with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

Just...read more

Crossroads to hold Ladies Night for Relay for Life
By Dave Heikkinen and Frank Wright
Jun. 16, 2010   ·   9:13 a.m.

On June 11, the 2010 Ypsilanti Crossroads Summer Festival featured a rousing opening set from roots and blue grass band Dragon Wagon.

Dragon Wagon was joined on...read more

Electric rail pollution leads to dirty laundry
By Laura Bien
Jun. 15, 2010   ·   11:42 a.m.

From the approximate vantage point of the present-day Materials Unlimited, the interurban car barn and powerhouse on Michigan Avenue loomed large.

Maggie Smith was not looking forward to a forenoon of sewing pleats.

She put down her newest customer’s summer dress. Downstairs, she offered to get potatoes...read more

EMU students in wartime
By Laura Bien
Jun. 1, 2010   ·   10:32 a.m.

The 1942 Aurora yearbook, the 50th
anniversary edition, included images that contrasted modern and
old-time students.

Leroy Grindle was an Ypsilantian soldier who lost his life in WWII. He was a member of the Michigan Normal (EMU) class of ’41, and is memorialized with a black...read more

Police ax 'House of All Nations'

The 'House of All Nations' stood on a
now-vanished stretch of Monroe between Huron and Hamilton streets. The red dot, placed by author Laura Bien, shows its location on this map. Photo by courtesy of the Ypsilanti Archives

The 'House of All Nations' stood on a now-vanished stretch of Monroe between Huron and Hamilton streets. The red dot, placed by author Laura Bien, shows its location on this map.
Bombadill's

To the Archives

By Laura Bien
Apr. 13, 2010    ·    5:46 a.m.


The house had been trouble for months.

326 Monroe was a dingy house on a now-vanished section of Monroe Avenue that used to extend between Hamilton and Huron streets. Today the site is a tidy industrial park.

In late November of 1925, during Prohibition, it was what used to be called a “disorderly house.” Cheap liquor and intimate yet transient company were available. Several police raids over the past few months hadn’t closed it down.

It was known as the “House of All Nations.”

The name wasn’t unique, but shared by a famous Chicago bordello run by the Mafia. There were similar institutions by the same name in New Orleans, New York, Paris and elsewhere—“House of All Nations” was slang for a house of ill fame. The phrase is possibly a sardonic derivation of “God’s House of All Nations,” a name some Christian churches chose for themselves.

Ypsilanti’s House of All Nations bordered the area known as “The Hill” or “Hungry Hill,” which encompassed Monroe, Madison, Jefferson and Watling streets and environs.

“The Hill” was an mix of poor but decent residents, most African American, and an ever-changing stream of drifters.

After a murder there in 1932, William Jones, longtime resident of “The Hill,” singled out “floaters” as the troublesome element. He was quoted in the December 1, 1932 Ypsilanti Daily Press.

“It is hard to know who lives where on ‘the hill’ now, Mr. Jones says. People are doubling up this [Depression] winter, several families moving in together to economize on fuel and share food, clothes, and bedding. Strangers move into the empty houses, coming from nowhere. Then there are those who welcome anyone who comes along, asking no questions, giving and taking what they have or can find or steal in the way of food or clothing.”

This was the neighborhood in which stood the House of All Nations.

Police, approaching the place with axes in hand on the night of Nov. 28, 1925, intended to change that.

The move was part of a massive five-pronged raid that netted 43 suspects who clogged the jail in the basement of the elegant City Hall, formerly the home of Daniel Quirk, at 300 North Huron.

At House of All Nations, the axes swung. Wood splintered and glass broke. The door was kicked in. Fifteen people fled the house and were nabbed by officers.

Meanwhile, the axes kept swinging, smashing holes in walls and chopping into joists. Another window broke in a tinkle of glass. Another blow crashed through the wall, leaving a hole to the outdoors.

The frustration of months of dangerous but fruitless raids boiled over. Finally, when it seemed that the house was in danger of caving in, the policemen stopped.

House of All Nations was wrecked. Broken windows and jagged holes let in the November cold. The front door sagged on one hinge. No one could live there, now that the officers had “left it as nearly wrecked as possible,” noted the Nov. 30 Daily Ypsilantian-Press.

Most of the 15 people caught that night at House of All Nations are not listed in the 1925 city directory. They don’t appear to be longtime residents like William Jones. It may be the directory canvassers overlooked them when making the 1925 guide. It seems more likely that most of those caught were transients.

Among them were Lydia McConnell, Carrie Brown, Mary Williams, Minnie Hendrick, Ola Johnson, Sarah Robinson, Charles Pfeister, Duncan Gilles, Dan Summers and Jule Wright.

“Austen Lucas, Matthew Williams and Frank Julian, taken at this house, are to be charged with violating the prohibition law,” said the Nov. 30 Daily Ypsilantian-Press. “Harold Lucas, also arrested there, is to be returned to Ionia for violating his parole.”

The 15th person was not named in the paper.

The prisoners began filtering through the court system. Some paid $10 fines—the equivalent of $121 today—and slipped away. It looked as though the officers had finally succeeded in shutting down House of All Nations.

“The house was damaged in the raid until officers thought no one would be able to live there,” said the Dec. 2, 1925 Daily Ypsilantian-Press.

The day after the axing, it was occupied.

Police received a tip about activity at the house and re-arrested Ola Johnson, Mary Williams and Frank Julien.

“Deciding that patience had ceased to be a virtue,” said the Dec. 2, 1925 Daily Ypsilantian-Press, “Justice D. Z. Curtiss this morning sentenced two House of All Nations habitués to 90 days in the Detroit House of Corrections.”

That was Ola and Mary, the women headed off to prison. Julien was charged with possession of liquor.

“If Julien is not convicted on the liquor charge,” said the paper, “Justice Curtiss announced his intention of bringing him into court on the second disorderly charge resulting from his arrest last night.”

The police had had enough. “Chief of Police John Connors this morning announced his intention to ask for a padlock order.”

Finally, the saga was over. It was the end of trouble at House of All Nations. It was not the end of trouble on “The Hill”—but that’s a story for another time.



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