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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or unless you rely on this web site as your primary news source, then you should know by now the fight over who owns the Tiffany window that once rested in the Ladies Library on North Huron Street in Ypsilanti but now resides in the Ypsilanti Historic Museum just up the street.
The City claims to own it. The Historical Museum claimed to own it. Doug Winters, owner of the Ladies Library located at 130 North Huron Street claims to own it. Now, I am officially putting my claim of ownership on it.
Before we analyze these claims of ownership, let me first say that one day after solving all the City’s problems over a few specially-priced happy hour sized beverages, the end result of this soap opera should be this: The window should be restored and returned to its rightful place in the Ladies Library. Doug Winters would be required pay for installing, insuring, and protecting the window. Under contract, ownership would remain with its rightful owner and this contract would guarantee that if Doug Winters sold the property the building’s new owner would not be able to lay claim to the window. The only problem is just who owns the window?
Doug Winters’ claim is easy to dismiss because the window was never in the building when he purchased it. He’s a lawyer. He knows this. It would be like the previous owner of my house claiming he owned my new dishwasher.
The museum’s ownership is almost as easy to dismiss. Even though the building is owned by the City of Ypsilanti, the museum is correct in saying they own all of artifacts. The onus would be on them to prove the the window is indeed an artifact in their collection or an artifact on loan from the City. If the museum could actually prove ownership, we wouldn’t be having this debate.
With those two eliminated, it comes down to either the City or me. To simplify things, we’ll say we are both right.
It’s fair to say the City has been around a lot longer than I have. At one time, they owned the the Ladies Library. They removed the window and moved it to the Historical Museum — another building they own. It would seem they hold all the cards, and the case of ownership was cut and dry. Not so fast.
I say that because the City owns these buildings and they are assets belonging to the City, they belong to everyone and therefore belong to me.
Because the window is an asset of the City, if someone were to collect enough signatures on a petition, that person could force a question on the ballot of whether or not the City must sell the window. Let’s face it, the City is in financial trouble. They are already thinking about selling the Historical Museum to the Historic Society. Simply put, they need the cash. If they could get fifty grand for the thing, maybe the City could put off some tough personnel decisions for another year. If we can be perfectly honest, the City is the worst possible owner you could have for the window.
Again, let’s be perfectly honest, the City doesn’t have any money to restore the window to its former glory. The window continues to deteriorate in the Historical Museum because if the Historical Society doesn’t own the thing, they aren’t going to spend the money required to restore it. The window is in an undignified state of limbo, and will stay in limbo until I take proper ownership of this precious artifact.
I would go door to door gathering the necessary signatures, but it’s been rather cold outside lately, so I’m looking for someone interested in helping make my dream of owning the window a reality. If you are interested in collecting said signatures for me, drop me a line and I’ll get you the petition forms.
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