They Worked at Annis Furs

Workers at Annis Furs in Downtown Detroit. Taken in the 1920’s.  My great grandmother, Jennie Virginia Allen Turner is in the second row, far left. Her daughter Alice is next to her. Skip the next woman and her daughter Daisy is there, 4th from the left.  The three of them got jobs at Annis Furs soon after moving to Detroit from Montgomery, Alabama in 1922.  I remember a little teddy bear Daisy made for my younger cousin Marilyn Elkins out of scraps of real fur. To read more about my Great Grandmother Turner, click Jennie Virginia Allen Turner.

Above is a photograph from the Burton collection at the Detroit Public Library.  The Annis Fur Company is in the corner building. Although this was taken in 1917 I think the area looked pretty much the same 7 years later.  To see a photograph of the Woodward Ave in 1910 click at Shorpy. You can see Annis Fur Post and Grinell Bros Pianos on the left, looking down the crowded street, past the Eureka Vacuum sign.

For more photos of crowds of women and other fascinating subjects, click Sepia Saturday.

15 thoughts on “They Worked at Annis Furs

  1. Once again, I cannot believe the quality of your pictures. What incredible artifacts you have!

  2. Agree with Kathy Reed, your photos are outstanding. Someone highly prized them and took VERY good care of them. How totally wonderful!

  3. Those are a well dressed group of ladies, and it's an interesting look at fashions of the period. A lot more variety in the clothing than I might have expected, but most of the hairstyles are very similar. Not much fur around, though.

    Those Shorpy images are incredible for the amount of detail they have. I am always hesitant about heading there for a visit, because I know I'm going to be distracted for hours. There is another Annis Furs Cold Storage sign way up high, but I can't work out what animal the sign is shaped to represent.

  4. Kristin said…
    I just went and looked at that sign and, I don't know if it's the sign on the next building that says "Hippo.." or not, but it looks like it shaped like a hippo to me. Which makes no sense unless the Hippo store was there first and left their hippo shaped sign when they moved next door. It sure doesn't look like any fur bearing animal unless it's prehistoric.

    October 7, 2011 11:20 PM

    1. Kristin-

      There was some money that belonged to the employees of Annis Furs in Detroit but I can’t verify it without gathering the correct address for the building. I tried 1274 Liberty St. in Detroit and 181 S. Old Woodward Ave. in Birmingham, but neither of those were a match.

      The company began in the late 1800’s by a gentlemen by the name of Newton Annis. They were in the Annis Furs building from 1932-1983. The address I’m looking for is either before or (more than likely) after that time period.

      The employees had an ERISA (Employment Retirement Income Security Act) that was lost and my colleagues and I are trying to put those funds back into the correct sets of hands.

      If you can recall an address or any contact individuals or ANY information that might help us, please contact me as soon as possible.

      Mark Miller

  5. Yes, that's what I tought too, but then I thought perhaps I was mistaken – didn't notice the sign on the next building … duh 🙂

  6. Great photos. I must pay more attention to the buildings the next time I'm in Detroit.

  7. The thing that amazes me about this time in history is the sheer number of furriers who thrived. There is another furrier on the same block – just a few doors down.

    The photo is in remarkably good shape. You are very fortunate to have such a fine collection.

  8. That first photo of all the women is just great! I remember when I was a child it was always a big deal to go to Detroit…we lived about 99 miles away…and it was for me the biggest city I'd been in…..great take on the theme as well! Thanks!

  9. Very interesting post! I love the part where they could all work together and spend time with each other throughout the day, and the story about the teddy bear.

    Thanks so much,

    Kathy M.

  10. Beautiful, beautiful photographs! I find it interesting that, with the exception of the two much older ladies on the far right, all of the women in the photo are sporting the same or similar hairstyles. Is that usual for the time period, or does this say something about this particular group of women? Thanks for sharing!

  11. Oh that first picture has to be clicked and enlarged – it is magnificent. So much detail – and I suppose, so much life. Fabulous stuff.

  12. There sure are a lot of seamstresses there. I imagine not many are needed nowadays.

    I see a nice sign shaped like a man on the corner of the building, but I can't find a hippo.

  13. A terrific post and wonderful photos. My grandmother, a Maryland country girl, found work as a seamstress around this same time in Washington DC where she eventually met my grandfather. All the department stores and specialty fashion shops provided employment for thousands of skilled women in this era. Alterations and custom work served an important service when people were always well dressed.

  14. we once had a thriving fur district, but given the incorrectness of this industry and the pressure from various animal rights groups, it has dwindle over the last 20 years. Some survived to this day, still in the same area, always in grand buildings.

    as usual, remarkable photos. they look like a distinguished lot.

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