Thursday, May 16, 2024

At Last

            We have found our next place to live, after about a year of fairly intense looking. It’s a co-op in Ann Arbor called Hildene Manor. More on that place later . . ..


            Our goal was and is to find a place for when we get old. The amount of work required to maintain our home, woods and garden is significant, and we have some health issues that are not likely to improve. So we have been looking for a condo

            Our process included a daily second cup of coffee looking at listings in the Traverse City area, Gainesville, Atlanta, as well as Howell, Milford, and a number of towns in Southeast Michigan. We were discouraged by the rather generic look of most condos, suggesting cheap construction paired with high prices. We did make offers on five places, and four times we forwarded substantial earnest money to seal the deal, only to have it fall apart. The most painful was when we realized some problems after signing off on the contractor’s inspection contingency, a mistake that cost us our earnest money when the owner would not refund it – or even half of it. In response, I put a curse on the property, which is working because it’s still on the market.


            Hildene Manor is a co-op, which means that we will be 1/8th owner of the building and property. It was constructed as an apartment building in 1925. Most of the current residents, I believe, are active or retired professors from the University of Michigan, so we will drag the academic level down. I will learn more about the place from a resident who is researching the place, and I would like to work with her to write a piece about it for The Ann Arbor Observer for its 100th anniversary. Here’s a photo:




            Why do we want to live there? Here’s a letter we submitted with our offer:


Hildene Manor Cooperative


            We are both from Ann Arbor, and we miss it!


            I had a 30+ year career teaching English at Ann Arbor Huron, where I would ride my bike to work from my home on Brockman Blvd. When I retired we moved around as snowbirds for about 15 years, chasing kids and grandkids between Saline and Gainesville, Florida, and now we are living in a cottage on Torch Lake. We love it on Torch, but we miss our many Ann Arbor friends and the distinctive Ann Arbor vibe. I’m a writer, and I published a number of articles in The Ann Arbor Observer, mainly about the Ann Arbor Art Fair, where Kim helped select the featured artists.


            For the last nine months we would spend an hour or more every morning, looking online for a place to live in the city we love. We wanted a place with character, which usually meant an older home with quality carpentry and design. Our Saline house was a charming 1927 craftsman bungalow, a place I wrote about for American Bungalow magazine. We love the craftsman details in Hildene Manor, we love how well taken care of it is by people who care, and we love what we have heard about your sense of community. Every other house we have looked at, online or in person, made us think what we would have to renovate, but here we love it just the way it is.


            We plan to keep our summer cottage for a couple of years, to see how it goes as we are getting older, and then move to Ann Arbor full time. We feel like we belong at Hildene Manor Cooperative.


            We are thinking that when we sell our Bark House we will ask prospective buyers what they like about it, and what their plans are. We have been discussing when we might want to sell our home and move to Ann Arbor full time. We have not reached a conclusion, but this morning’s beautiful sunrise over Torch Lake makes it hard to leave.


            One of the interesting features of buying into a co-op is that we have to be approved – not simply that we can come up with the money, but approved as members of the small co-op community. We were asked to submit two support letters – like what I used to write for my students applying to colleges. We are also to be interviewed, a process that we are doing with a Zoom Meeting because we live 5 or 6 hours away. Wouldn’t it be nice to be selective about your neighbors?


            Closing is tentatively set for mid-July, provided, of course, that we are judged to be acceptable.




  1. You made a great decision. The co-op will love both of you. Congrats & “We’ll be Seeing You”, one of my favorite jazz tunes by Sarah Vaughan.

  2. I changed the title of the jazz tune from I’ll to We’ll.

  3. It'll be good to have you back in A2, Dave!