Michigan Historic Preservation Network


2023 MHPN Annual Statewide Preservation Conference


How Heritage Tourism Balances Profitability and Authenticity

Wednesday, May 10 – Saturday, May 13, 2023

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Registration opens last week of February


We are pleased to announce the keynote speaker for the 2023 MHPN Annual Statewide Historic Preservation Conference – Sandra Sageser Clark. Ms. Clark is the Director of the Michigan History Center and a long-time friend of MHPN.
Sandra grew up in Manhattan, Kansas, where her father was a history professor at Kansas State University. Her B.A. and M.A. in history are from Michigan State University. She has a taught history, been an editor and speechwriter for the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Sandra returned to Michigan as editor of Michigan History Magazine in 1979. She was deputy director of Travel Michigan for three years before she became director of the Michigan History Center in September 1991. She has been president of the American Association for State and Local History, the Michigan Museums Association, and the Automobile National Heritage Area. Her awards have included the 2009 Michigan Historic Preservation Network Leadership Award and the 2019 AASLH Award of Distinction.

We may come from a small town with a striking Carnegie Library, a rural area with a photogenic sweep of historic farmsteads, or an inviting shoreline community with an artists’ enclave, a music conservatory, or its original fishing shanties and docks. Perhaps we’re from a mid-sized community with a traditional 19th-century downtown surrounded by historic neighborhoods, or a large urban area with historic theaters and churches amidst internationally-acclaimed Mid-Century Modern office buildings. No matter which, we know these precious survivors from our past are points of pride for residents. More and more often, they also are what make a community a distinctive destination that attracts visitors.

It was in May, 2007, that we last were on Mackinac Island. The conference that year was the first time we’d focused on historic preservation’s role in tourism. “Heritage Tourism” was exciting because – while not new – it was beginning to reveal its full potential to Michigan’s preservation community. Now 16 years later, the stunning value of heritage tourism to Michigan’s economy is proven. With the celebration of our historic resources, however, we can see that with popularity come the pressures of over-development and popularity’s wear-and-tear.

We’re going to look at what this means. We ask ourselves: what fragile balance must we achieve to assure that the earnings attracted by our historic resources do not compromise our efforts to conserve their authenticity? What better time to ask this question than in 2023 as Mackinac Island plays host to the MHPN’s 43rd annual conference. What is shared can apply directly to where YOU live!

Speakers and participants will be experiencing Mackinac Island, one of Michigan’s most successful destinations for heritage tourism. Against this backdrop, we seek a wide array of abstracts for our three program tracks. The basic conference program is organized into tracks so that participants have a better idea of each session’s content. (No abstracts are sought for the workshops on Wednesday afternoon and Saturday morning because they cover special topics developed by the MHPN. Similarly, the tours familiarize participants with the host community and are developed by the 2023 Conference Planning Group.)

This track focuses on the conference theme of “A Fragile Balance: How Heritage Tourism Balances Profitability and Authenticity.” The track is for individuals, people in business and manufacturing, preservation professionals, craftspeople and tradespeople, elected and appointed officials, and government staff – anyone who needs to advocate for preservation and a sensible and well-balanced approach to heritage tourism. Some session ideas might include:

• Considering the tools used to spur heritage tourism, economic revitalization, a sense of place, the reclamation of traditional downtowns and neighborhoods, and the skills of diplomacy needed to bring groups together.

• Discussing the tools used to convince the public that while promoting heritage tourism, they can also safeguard their cultural resources – including buildings, structures, sites, objects, features, natural open spaces, and human-made landscapes, either alone or as cultural ensembles.

The track is for those who need to know more about the laws, policies, and designations; the programs of assistance, tax incentives, and economic benefits; and the best practices and educational programs that provide support for heritage tourism efforts. Session topics could include:

• Studying the various programs of tax credits and loans, assistance, easements, etc., used by those whose wheelhouses include the ability to negotiate financial packages that make heritage tourism projects a reality.

• Discussing the laws, policies, codes, and procedures that are the tools used by people who proactively and successfully advocate for heritage tourism.

The track is for individual property owners, professionals doing design and hands-on work, and community officials who need to know more about the special design needs of historic buildings, traditional trades, and current building and development practices–the tools for effective heritage tourism efforts. Ideas might include:

• Presenting case studies of historic buildings that are saved from demolition, adaptively reused, and returned to inventive new uses that jump-start heritage tourism.

• Showcasing people doing hands-on work with historic resources, both trade professionals and do-it-yourselfers, and considering the tools they used to overcome obstacles.

An abstract includes the following component parts.  Find the form on the MHPN’s website, complete it, and submit it via the email address provided on the form’s last page.   

  • Session Title for the Brochure:  Provide a title that will capture a participant’s attention.
  • Topic Statement:  A topic statement of 50 words or less becomes the description in the conference brochure – if your abstract is selected – meant to engage the participant’s interest so they attend your session.
  • Summary for Promotional Use:  In 300 words or less, describe the session.  This summary allows the selection committee to understand what you propose to achieve.  The MHPN endorses the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and, if appropriate to your topic, asks that you describe your adherence to them in this summary.
  • Learning Objectives:  Provide at least four (4) brief learning objectives fulfilled by your proposed session.  These help secure continuing education credits from the American Institute of Architects, American Institute of Certified Planners, etc.  
  • Program Track:  Tell us which of the three Program Tracks might be best for your session.  Do know that if chosen, however, your session may be assigned to a different track based on how it fits into the overall program. 
  • Time Needed:  Tell us how much time might be best for your session.  You may be requested to adjust your time pending other submissions and timeslot availability.  
  • Type of Presentation:  Help us anticipate your tech and AV needs.  
  • OPTIONAL: Photos or Illustrations:   If there are visuals that can help the Selection Committee review your session, please upload them with credits and an indication of whether you have permission to use them.  
  • Speaker’s Contact Information:  For each speaker provide:
    • Name as it would appear in the conference brochure if the session is chosen.  (For a panel, the first speaker on the form should be the best one to contact with questions or requests.)
    • Any suffixes to the name – i.e. Ph.D., AIA, Esq., CPA, etc.  We do not use prefixes in the brochure. 
    • Title
    • Affiliation
    • Mailing address including address, city, state, and zip code
    • Best phone for contact
    • Cell phone
    • E-mail address
    • (If you are unavailable on Thursday, May 11, or Friday, May 12, 2023, please let the Conference Manager know.)
  • Biography:  150 words or less for each speaker, covering such things as education, relevant experience, role in a project, role in the session, etc.

Your abstract is due on or before Sunday, September 25, 2022, by 11:59 PM.  Submit it using the email address on the last page of the form.   Receipt of the abstract will be acknowledged.  Conference Manager Janet Kreger, can respond to e-mailed questions about preparing your abstract – kregerj1981@att.net .  Sample abstracts are available on request

The Selection Committee will notify selected speakers on or before Sunday, November 6, 2022.  Declines will also be acknowledged and those abstracts archived. 

If a speaker is selected, the MHPN hosts them on the day he or she speaks, including registration fee, food and beverages, tours, and evening activities.  In return, the speaker agrees to present during the assigned time slot without compensation, reimbursement for travel or overnight costs, or an honorarium.  If a speaker remains at the conference beyond the day on which they present, the MHPN offers registration fees reduced by 50% as a small means by which we can say thank you. 

Although speakers are not remunerated, their names and affiliations are included in a conference brochure with a distribution of almost 10,000 copies in Michigan, the Midwest, and around the country.  Their participation is noted on preservation-related websites, social media sites, and in e-blasts.  They are featured at a well-respected conference that draws 375-400 participants.    

Thank you for submitting your abstract for a great session!

Dear Friend of Historic Preservation:

The Michigan Historic Preservation Network is reaching out across the state in search of great items for the silent auction that is a highlight of our statewide preservation conference. This year, we’re in Holly, MI from May 11-14 with the theme for this 42nd annual gathering being, “Our Town: Preserving Places Together.” Whether you’ve provided an auction item in the past or would consider doing so for the first time, we welcome your contribution! If you have something in mind, please know that the deadline for items is Friday, April 29.

We seek donations of all types in all price ranges so that we offer something for everyone. Popular ideas include tours of historic places, overnight stays in historic hotels or B&B’s, tickets for both high-brow and low-brow entertainment, books and prints, works of art and antiques, architectural artifacts, and gift certificates of all kinds. In addition to individual items, we’re always looking for creative theme packages that you pull together or that we can create.

As an auction item donor, you’ll receive recognition in the evening’s program, on the item’s bid sheet, and in the MHPN’s annual report. Your donation may be tax deductible because the MHPN is a 501(c)3 organization. We’ve enclosed a donation form in case you’d like to help! The form provides details about the auction, but you should feel free to contact the MHPN office with any questions you have.

The MHPN is THE membership organization in Michigan dedicated to recognizing and preserving the state’s architectural and cultural heritage. Your item, when auctioned, provides financial assistance for our statewide efforts. To learn more about our 2022 conference and catch up on what’s new at the MHPN, visit us at www.mhpn.org.

Many thanks for your support of historic preservation in Michigan!


2022 Conference Auction Co-Chairs


When giving online, choose Annual Conference as the “Designation” and,
when checking out, add your chosen Sponsorship Opportunity in the “Order Notes.”

Before the conference, your business is recognized in our 10,000 brochures, on the MHPN website and Facebook page, in social media, and on the conference’s landing page which everyone sees during on-line registration. Your business is recognized during the conference on signage and in power points, and when sponsors are thanked at the sessions and special events they support.

As benefits, your booth price is reduced at the Vendors’ Showcase, and, because it’s proven to be so popular, the Virtual Vendors’ Showcase is available to you at no price. You’ll be listed in the MHPN’s Annual Report, you may have complimentary registrations, and you are hosted at a VIP gathering. But hands down, the greatest return on your investment is that the conference inspires and educates buyers for the services, products, and properties you offer. They take note that you support the MHPN.

2022-06-07 - Message from Gary Wilson about the 2022 conference in Holly, Michigan
Vendor Showcase and Market Place, Holland, 2019
VIP Reception, Holland, 2019
VIP Reception, Lansing, 2018
Tour, East Lansing, 2018

Conference Brochures

Holly, 2022
Held Virtually in May, 2020
2020 Conference Brochure - Preservation on the Frontline_Page_01
Held Virtually in September 2020
Holland, 2019
East Lansing, 2018
Emmet County, 2017
Detroit, 2016
Midland, 2015
Jackson, 2014

MHPN Conference History