A Full Dance Card: Ann Arbor's Chequamegon Band & Orchestra

It was a crisp Tuesday evening, the last week of April 1884. Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Ann Arbor. Outside a new brick building, near the corner of Ashley & Huron Streets, they waited for the city's first roller rink to open its doors. By the end of the night, roughly 700 people had enjoyed roller skating to the marvelous music performed by the Chequamegons. During intermissions, starstruck women approached the handsomely suited musicians, hoping to find a skating partner. The Chequamegons were in constant demand. Their performances always guaranteed a crowd. The Rink, as it was known, would eventually disappear into Ann Arbor's past. The Chequamegons may not sound familiar to you either, but this talented group of students laid the groundwork for University of Michigan bands and orchestras, and were shining stars in Ann Arbor's music history.


Chequamegon Orchestra, 1888. Back row, left to right: William D. Ball, Rollin E. Drake, Meade Vestal, Eli Moore, William W. Tidd, Ernest B. Perry, Carl Warden, Frank G. Plain. Front row, left to right: Henry M. Young, A. Ward Copley, Edward N. Bilbie, Lew H. Clement, Walter L. Moore. Courtesy Of The University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library