2020 HISTORIC PRESERVATION AWARDS
Accepting Nominations for a Michigan Historic Preservation Award
Application Period Closed for 2020.
Awarded to an outstanding building preservation project completed within the past three years. The project may be restoration or rehabilitation, must include exterior rehabilitation work and may also involve interior work.
The Michigan Historic Preservation Network annually presents awards to outstanding projects, people, and organizations that exemplify historic preservation in Michigan. In 2020 nine awards were presented in five categories. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, presentation of Lifetime Achievement Awards was suspended for 2020.
The Assembly, Detroit. The Assembly was built in 1913 as a warehouse for dry goods wholesalers Edson, Moore & Company. After the company moved to a different location in 1958 the building was used for storage until its purchase in 2016 for conversion into a mixed-use building with an authentic industrial atmosphere. Taking its inspiration from the building’s industrial heritage, the design highlights rather than hides characteristic elements such as original wood floors, brick walls with graffiti, concrete columns and ceilings, and exposed lighting and ductwork. The former industrial warehouse now houses retail and restaurant on Fort Street and facing the railroad tracks, flexible office space on the second and third floors, and fourth floor lofts with panoramic views of the Detroit River and downtown Detroit.
The Public Museum High School, Grand Rapids. An Art Moderne public museum is now home to over 300 high school students in this unusual adaptive reuse project. Built in 1940, the Grand Rapids Public Museum served the downtown for over 50 years. In 2015 the City of Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids Public Museum, and Grand Rapids Public Schools conceived an ambitious plan to create a new school within the former museum. The building’s core organization and key historic features were retained and restored, while the galleries were converted to classrooms, offices, and dining. New skylights bring natural light into the building’s deep floor plate, avoiding the need to punch new windows through the historic exterior. The curriculum is as innovative as the design, as students have access to the museum’s archives to aid in their studies
The Legacy (Crapo Building), Bay City. The 1890 Romanesque style brick and sandstone Crapo Building has undergone several dramatic transformations in its lifetime. Converted to a bank in 1921, its exterior was “modernized” with new storefronts and a metal screen in the 1960s. Using historic tax credits, the original upper level exterior was exposed and restored, and historically compatible storefronts reconstructed. The interior houses first floor retail and a restaurant with the upper floors converted to twenty-six residential units that incorporate elements of the historic offices. The Crapo Building restoration saved a historic building that was foundational to Bay City’s downtown district and brought new life to a long-vacant property. Now called The Legacy, it is attracting residents to downtown Bay City and providing revenue to the city, serving as a reminder that the city’s true wealth is its history, culture, and community.
The Shinola Hotel, Detroit. The Shinola Hotel showcases the restoration of the historic T. B. Rayl Company building at 1400 Woodward, whose Sullivanesque red terra cotta tiles made it one of the most distinctive buildings in downtown Detroit. Two doors north, the 1936 Singer Building is the quiet beauty in the middle of the block. Connecting them are three new buildings designed to complement the historic scale and massing of the block while bridging the various floor levels of the buildings. Using historic tax credits, the Rayl and Singer building exteriors were carefully restored, including the removal of panels that had blocked windows on the lower floors of the Rayl Building for years and the creation of complementary storefronts. Hotel rooms on the upper floors now take full advantage of the views offered through the large round-arched windows. An activated alley behind the building pays homage to Thomas Parker, one of Detroit’s first Black landowners.
Alexander Mixter was honored for his energetic and creative leadership in Saginaw. After spending several years away from his hometown Alex, a professional videographer, moved back to Saginaw in 2017 to create a documentary showing the positive side of the city. In the process, he fell in love with the Lee Mansion, the last lumber mill home in Saginaw. He became a full time advocate for the house, holding media events, working with local officials, and securing a developer to realize his vision of the house as a welcome center and public meeting space for the city that seeks to engage younger people in historic preservation, social justice, and civic engagement. His future plans include investment in other historic buildings, using the Lee Mansion as an illustration of what is possible. By his example he has encouraged and supported others in the Saginaw community, especially young people, to volunteer and to help save historic buildings.
Durand Union Station, Inc., and the Community of Durand were honored for their ongoing stewardship of Durand Union Station. Since 1974 the community of Durand has worked tirelessly to preserve, restore, and protect its crown jewel: The Durand Union Station. The former Grand Trunk Western depot and passenger station, built in 1905, is the icon of the city and the heart of the community. Slated for demolition in 1974, it was saved through the concerted efforts of the citizens and city of Durand. Over the last four decades, Durand Union Station, Inc. and the Durand community have raised funds, held events, and pitched in to restore and maintain the “Queen of the Rails.” Today, it is a community gathering space and the soul of Durand.
The City of Wyandotte, for the rehabilitation of the Wyandotte Central Fire Station. In 1939 the Art Moderne Wyandotte Central Fire Station, designed by local architect Carlton P. Campbell, opened at the corner of Maple and Third Streets. By 2016 the nearly 80-year-old fire station had reached a crossroads. The building had been well-maintained, but the station was in need of critical upgrades to continue to serve the community. The City of Wyandotte commissioned a Restoration Master Plan to evaluate the station’s future needs and viability. The evaluation process convinced city leadership that rehabilitating the building provided the best value for the community. It was estimated that the City saved approximately $1.5 million by pursuing restoration instead of demolition and new construction. After a year-long restoration effort, Wyandotte’s firefighters have a home that retains its historic character and use but with added space and updated amenities that will ensure its continued viability for another fifty years
The Partnership for the Arts and Humanities, Canton, for their revitalization of the Cherry Hill Ford Factory Complex. Since 2012 the Partnership’s signature project has been the Cherry Hill Ford Factory complex, the last and most unique of Henry Ford’s village industries. In the waning years of World War II Henry Ford provided housing, employment, and rehabilitation for disabled veterans at Cherry Hill. The Partnership’s vision for its redevelopment pays tribute to the factory’s origins as a place of healing for veterans while giving it an exciting new future. The Veterans’ Dormitory was rehabilitated to provide housing and a supportive environment for veterans in transition. The former factory building will house a commercial or retail tenant, while an attached warehouse contains a studio, gallery, and retail space for visual artists. The Partnership’s unusual vision for this historic factory complex created a regional destination that will honor its history
Tax Credit Award
The Metropolitan Building, Detroit. The 1925 Gothic Revival palace, informally known as the Jewelers Building, was Detroit’s longest-vacant building, and one of its top ten most endangered. It historically showcased jewelry and watchmaking businesses, and the building’s design revolved around expansive windows, interior storefronts, and elegant décor to display its retail wares. The building closed in 1978, and the toxic materials left over from the manufacture of jewelry and watches were a high barrier to redevelopment. After a two-year rehabilitation campaign, the building reopened in 2018 as the Element Detroit at the Metropolitan, Detroit’s first extended stay hotel. The historic lobby and second floor interior storefronts were restored, 100 hotel rooms built within the triangular footprint of the upper floors, and a lounge and rooftop decks opened at the penthouse level. The Metropolitan Building now offers boutique hospitality in an iconic historic building
The Michigan Historic Preservation Network also recognizes members of the state’s preservation community who passed away since the 2019 awards ceremony:
Michael W. R. Davis, Detroit
Lance Ferraro, Kalamazoo
Betsy Baldwin Garland, Kalamazoo
Jeanne Graham, Bloomfield Hills
Motoko Fujishiro Huthwaite, Pontiac
Joel Landy, Detroit
Dave McMacken, Alma
Eric Means, Detroit
David Miller, Livonia
Kathleen Stiso Mullins, Williamsburg, Virginia
Jeri Pajor, Detroit
Ethel “Eppie” Potts, Ann Arbor
Michael Sweeney, Saugatuck