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Kempf House Museum

The Kempf House Museum is a living museum interpreting the early history of Ann Arbor, Michigan’s Victorian lifestyle architecture, interior decoration, and landscapes from 1850 to 1910. Built in 1853, for Henry D. Bennett, the house is an excellent example of the Greek Revival-style of architecture. The house, similar to the temples of ancient Greece, is symmetrical with a triangular pediment above the square columns. Delicate cast iron grilles in an ancient Greek floral motif highlight the frieze of the house. The first occupants of the house were Bennett, secretary and steward of the University of Michigan, and Mary Bennett. The Bennett family occupied the house till 1890, when they moved to Pasadena, California. After that, it became the home and studio of local musicians Reuben H. Kempf and Pauline Widenmann Kempf, prominent Ann Arbor musicians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were the key persons who elevated Ann Arbor to a world-class music site. Trained in Germany, Mr. Kempf came to Ann Arbor with his wife and three children to teach piano and organ. They lived here through the early part of the 20th century and enriched the city’s cultural life with music, lessons, concerts, and entertainments. During that period, several internationally known musicians visited the house. The city of Ann Arbor purchased the house from the Kempf family in 1969, and in 1983, it became the Kempf House Center for Local History and serves the functions of a local historical society for the city. Trained guides are available to lead visitors through the restored rooms, including the music studio where the 1877 Steinway concert grand piano remains as it has for more than 100 years.