The Hermes of Burns Park

By Hazel & John Byers


The Hermes of Burns Park?  What the heck?  Why did we name our newspaper the Hermes of Burns Park?  We are studying mythology, and we know that Hermes is the messenger for the Greek gods.  Why not call it Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, when we live so close to Minerva Road?  Well, we’re just kids, so we don’t really have enough wisdom to compare ourselves to Minerva.  But we do know things about our street and we’re learning things about our neighborhood.  And we wanted to share them with you, our neighbors.  We hope you enjoy our paper.

 Hazel & John Byers




A Long, Long Time Ago, In a Park Very Close By

by John Byers     Hermes of Burns Park” | September 4th, 2011


Have you ever wondered why Magic Mountain is there? Have you ever wondered why trees grow in an oval ring in the middle of Burns Park? Have you ever wondered how Burns Park came to be? Let me tell you!

Burns Park was named after George P. Burns in 1910. It was named for him particularly because he donated a lot of land to make Longshore Park, and the city wanted to honor him. He was also a botany professor at University of Michigan. Burns Park is named after him.

Before that Burns Park was the county fairgrounds. There were horse races at the fairgrounds, and the oval ring of trees in the middle of the park marks the original horse racing track. To make the track they needed to move a lot of dirt, and that dirt became what we call Magic Mountain. We tried to Aind out why it is called Magic Mountain, but we couldn’t Aigure it out. Something happened to magically change the name from the Big Hill to Magic Mountain after the late 1980s. (If you know, please tell us:

The race horses were kept in a barn. In 1911 the barn was struck by lightning. The horses were okay, but the barn burned to the ground. They built a new barn in 1912. By 1920 there were no longer horse races in Burns Park, and they had no reason to have horses so they turned the barn into the Senior Center. Some people still call it the Barn, so if you hear anybody saying “I’m going to go to the Barn today,” they mean they’re going to the Senior Center!

From 1926-­‐1950 Burns Park had a caretaker. His name was Claude Wyman. He lived in the groom’s quarters of the barn with his wife and his dog. He kept a jug of drinking water on his front porch for kids to drink. When he died, people placed a drinking fountain in his memory. This is a picture of the plaque above it:

It says: “This fountain was provided by friends of Claude L. Wyman long time caretaker of Burns Park in grateful memory of the many nice things he did for the children.” It is on the warming hut.


The Real Story of Why the Rock Rocks!

by Hazel Byers   “Hermes of Burns Park” | September 4th, 2011


The rock is famous in Ann Arbor. Many people walk or drive by the rock, but most of us don’t know what the rock really was meant to be or how it came to be there.

Eli Gallup, Ann Arbor Parks Superintendent, found the rock in a landAill. It was limestone, and he liked it because it was huge and because of its glacial scratches. He thought it was beautiful, and he wanted everyone to see it. George Washington’s 200th birthday was coming up, so Gallup asked local artist Carlton Angell to make a plaque to go next to the rock to commemorate Washington’s birthday. The plaque read, “To George Washington this memorial erected in celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of his birth, 1932.” Along with the plaque, Gallup also buried a time capsule containing interesting things from 1932. I bet he never thought the rock would become what it is now!

People began to paint the rock in the mid-­‐1950s after someone painted MSU on it before a football game. Then all kinds of people began to paint it constantly. It gets painted so often now that the paint never dries.

The last time the plaque commemorating Washington’s birthday was seen was in 1982, 250 years after Washington was born. It was chipped away by Brian Durrance. It took him two days to get the paint off!


Take a Drive Through Burns Park’s History

by John Byers   “Hermes of Burns Park” | September 4th, 2011


Did you ever wonder why your street has the name it has or where the name came from? Do you think it always had that name? The Hermes of Burns Park has investigated, and you can Aind out the history of street names in Burns Park in this article!

In 1848, J.D. Baldwin bought 154 acres of land and started a fruit and berry farm on what eventually became the Burns Park neighborhood. Israel and Olivia Hall bought his house and a lot of his land. Baldwin Avenue is named after J.D. Baldwin.

In 1890 Washtenaw County Agricultural and Horticultural Society held horse races and a county fair, but they lost a lot of money on the fair. Olivia Hall thought horse racing was a bad inAluence so she wanted the races moved to the edge of town. She bought the Society’s land and gave them some of her land that was at the edge of town. The land she gave them was our Burns Park. Olivia Avenue is named for her. She was also a suffragette and was a friend of Susan B. Anthony.

Wells Street was named after Ebenezer Wells. He was a physician, a mayor, and was President of the First National Bank. He lived from 1815-­‐1882.

Cambridge had three different names. Between Forest and Lincoln it was called Israel Avenue after Olivia Hall’s husband Israel Hall. Between Lincoln and Baldwin it was called Hubbard St. East of Washtenaw it was called New Jersey Avenue. By 1914 all of these streets were known as Cambridge Avenue.

The area that became Forest Avenue was originally a stand of trees behind a huge house owned by Chauncey Millen. When it became a street it was also known as White Forest, and eventually it became just Forest.

There’s a lot of history in these streets a long time ago, and even right now! Some day people will look back at our time and say the same thing.



No Bus, No Fuss! Street Cars in Ann Arbor

by Hazel Byers   “Hermes of Burns Park” | September 4th, 2011


Many people don’t even know that there were street cars in Ann Arbor, let alone in Burns Park. There were! One of the major lines went down Lincoln, so our neighborhood was a big part of traveling by street car.

The street car track was laid in Ann Arbor in 1840. In 1894 the barn that held the street cars burned down, and the new barn was rebuilt in Burns Park.

The cars traveled all over town, and sometimes people rode them for entertainment. One of the most entertaining things riders encountered was two famous employees who lived in the Burns Park neighborhood. James Love lived on Wells and Marion Darling lived on Olivia. They had a little joke: when the engine was ready to start up, James Love would call out, “Ready, darling?” And Marion Darling would answer, “Yes, love.”

In 1925 another Aire burned down the barn that held the street cars. The city was already talking about switching to buses, and the Aire made the switch happen faster. On the last day the street cars ran there was a big parade for them. Some had posters on them that said, “Good-­‐bye, folks. The scrap heap for me!” In one of the buses a band played funeral songs.

I like the idea of having street cars in our neighborhood. I wish I could have seen them.


Berried Away

by John Byers   “Hermes of Burns Park” | July 16th, 2011


Have you ever noticed purple splotches on the ground around trees when you are biking or walking in Ann Arbor? Have you ever wondered what they come from? Da da da DA – they’re mulberries!

Two types of mulberry trees grow in Michigan: red mulberries, which are native to Michigan, and white mulberries, which were introduced into the United States from China on a failed attempt to make a silk industry.

You can use a field guide, such as Trees of Michigan, to exactly identify mulberries. The way I tend to find them is by finding the messy purple dots on the sidewalk and looking for the fruit.

Now this leads us to serviceberries! Da da da Da da Da! Serviceberries are na+ve to Michigan. Native American people used serviceberries for beverages, medicines, paints, and also just for plain old food.

When serviceberry fruit is young it’s bright pink; when it’s ripe it looks a liGle darker than a ripe blueberry. My mom and I made a pie that used mulberries and serviceberries. The recipe is:

Serviceberry and Mulberry Pie

Pastry for 2 crust pie
4 c. fresh mulberries and serviceberries 1 c. sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tbsp. bu>er

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Line a 9-­‐inch pie plate with pastry. Combine sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and cinnamon. Gently mix in berries.
3. Pour berry mixture into pastry lined pie plate. Dot with bu>er. Cover with top crust which has had slits cut in to release steam.
4. Bake until crust is nicely browned and juice begins to bubble (35 to 45 min) 

Serviceberries are done for the year, and mulberries are almost done too. But black raspberries are just becoming ripe! Yum!


Bag It!

by Hazel Byers   “Hermes of Burns Park” | July 16th, 2011


In the US alone we use more than 12 million barrels of oil in one year to make plastic bags. Some of these bags come to the streets of Burns Park around newspapers. Newspaper bags are made of Linear Low-­‐density Polyethylene (LLPE). This is a material that does not biodegrade in the landfill, but it can be recycled. Even better than recycling bags is reusing them. Here are some ways you can reuse your plastic newspaper bags:

  • Pick up animal waste. (Thanks for not leaving it in the park!)
  • Wear inside your boots or shoes to keep your feet dry.
  • Put a wet umbrella inside one before puZng it in your bag or purse or car.
  • Dirty diapers.
  • Packing your shoes when you travel.
  • Wet bathing suits.




Sources: Bentley Historical Library, Ann Arbor Public Library, Ann Arbor Observer, City of Ann Arbor documents, Ann Arbor Public Schools and especially articles by Grace Shackman and Don Callard.